Sweet Orange a juicy pick for thirsty Ferraris stable
Trainer David Ferraris hasn't had too much to look forward to in past seasons after the retirement of champion Vengeance Of Rain in 2008, but he is likely to have some fun with Sweet Orange following a promising debut effort in the Class Three Hong Kong Loving Hearts Handicap (1,200m) last Saturday at Sha Tin.
Sweet Orange raced in the Coolmore colours as Warning Flag under David Wachman and showed plenty in four juvenile starts in Ireland for two handy wins on the synthetic surface over 1,400m, including the listed Star Appeal Stakes, following a debut second over a turf mile at Cork. He ran a solid second to twice unbeaten and classy Dubai Prince in the Group Three Killavullan Stakes over the 1,400m in his final overseas start on October 25. Godolphin's Dubai Prince had been quoted at 14-1 for the Epsom Derby before a training setback with a hairline fracture.
The British import was unwanted at his Sha Tin debut at 27-1, but is likely to be much shorter when he steps out next time out.
Sweet Orange - carrying 133 pounds - was niggled to take up a position three deep ahead of midfield for Weichong Marwing before slotting in one out with cover in midfield at the 800m, rounded the final bend with two wider out, lost some ground when getting squeezed between King Of Reason and Time After Time, who had shifted out, at the 200m before finishing off nicely to run a solid two-length sixth behind King Of Reason.
The American-bred three-year-old is the first starter in Hong Kong for the budding Danzig stallion War Front, four-time winner up to 1,700m, including the Group Two Alfred G Vanderbilt Breeders' Cup Handicap (1,200m) in 2006 on the dirt and heads the 2011 leading second-crop sires list.
His dam is the Unbridled's Song mare Good Vibes, a double 1,400m winner and the dam of four other winners from as many starters over the short courses in North America.
Sweet Orange has a pedigree top to bottom to be a smart one on the dirt up to a mile, but has the versatility to be effective on both surfaces. With more time to acclimatise and mature, he will be heading higher off his current mark of 85.
The Francis Lui kin-wai-trained Smart Touch turned in a much-improved second-up performance to finish a three-quarter length behind Sweet Orange in seventh after having to cover ground three deep throughout from gate 14.
Smart Touch had shown little when coming home a debut 10th behind Mandarin three weeks earlier after a tough trip. This time, he was again three deep trying to tackle for the lead with Blazing Saddles and Bondi Lad under the guidance of Howard Cheng Yu-tin, assumed the front 200m out and only felt the pinch 80m out as the second longest-priced runner at 76-1 odds.
He arrived off a mark of 67 for a 1,000m win on yielding ground at Wyong from two Australian starts. The three-year-old is on the right track and the son of Oratorio and the Canny Lad mare Rainbow Lover should be able to exert his best over a sprint-to-mile trips.