It was a quiet day at the track by the standards of some seasons for the Cruz family, but Tony kept his season ticking over with a win while brother Derek continued to improve his scoreline as Operation Secret turned around some recent ill-luck.
The win by Operation Secret (Olivier Doleuze) gave Derek Cruz (pictured) some particular pleasure as he had gone to New Zealand to ride the horse as a lightly raced youngster and recommended him as an ideal Private Purchase for owner, Dr Chan Ho-ming, a long time client.
'I liked him then and I still like him,' Derek said. 'He hasn't had a lot of luck this season but he also hasn't had a lot of racing yet either and that's the second win. Even though he'll be five in August, I'm hopeful that he will get stronger next season and has not hit his peak yet.'
Cruz has had a lean year, with yesterday's victory taking him to double figures but his form line has been on the improve and Doleuze echoed his views on Operation Secret.
'I gave him a bit quieter ride today and I like how he found the line,' the Frenchman said. 'I like him and he looks to have some upside next season.'
Owner Chau Cham-son and his wife have had a few horses in the Tony Cruz yard in the past with moderate success, most recently with Zerubbabel and Mystic Force, but the trainer has significantly higher hopes for Terrific Brethren, who gave stable apprentice Marco Chui Kwan-lai a double in the eighth.
'Terrific Brethren's only a three-year-old and that's three wins now,' Cruz said. 'I'm sure he'll be a stronger horse next season and the best is certainly yet to come. I think he'll turn out the best horse these owners have had.'
The trainer's major concern going into the Austin Handicap yesterday was in drawing the second-outside of the field but he needn't have worried as rivals took the decision not to contest the front with Terrific Brethren and he crossed over at the first bend to take up the running.
As a result of the slow tempo that ensured, the first four placegetters were in the first four positions throughout the race and run-on horses never got a look in.
'If he had drawn an inside barrier, I would have been very confident Terrific Brethren would win,' Cruz said. 'From the outside draw I thought his odds were a bit short but Marco gave him a great ride and the others let him get away with an easy lead. He was always going to be tough to run down with a light weight.'