Tony Cruz will try to convince Peniaphobia’s owner Huang Kai-wen to take the sprinter back to Dubai for a third tilt at the Al Quoz Sprint after a surprise win in Monday’s Group Two Centenary Sprint Cup.
Peniaphobia has placed in Dubai’s US$1 million straight race for the past two years but after going winless through the first five runs of this season, Huang was reluctant to head abroad again.
An all-the-way victory under a picture-perfect, front-running ride by Neil Callan may change the owner’s mind though.
“I’ve entered him for the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai but it’s up to the owner whether he goes, so we’ll talk and see what he wants to do,” Cruz said.
Cruz now faces the question of whether to stretch Peniaphobia to the 1,400m of the Group One Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup in just under four weeks or wait until March 25 to contest the race in Dubai.
The US$1 million Al Quoz has been changed from 1,000m back to Sunday’s distance of 1,200m and Cruz seems to be leaning towards that option as the horse’s next start.
“He is a true sprinter and I don’t think he gets 1,400m, but we will make a decision when we have to,” he said.
After the three-quarter length win, Peniaphobia now has a record of nine victories from 29 starts for Cruz and has collected more than HK$39 million in prizemoney.
Callan was gifted the lead on the speedy six-year-old and after whispering some soothing words into the sprinter’s ears upon settling, kicked the gelding into gear in the straight.
“Tony told me ‘No handbrake man’, he wanted me to keep him moving and in rhythm,” Callan said.
“He just told me to throw the reins at him after I jumped and promised me he would settle, and then he told me ‘no whip in the straight’ and I was thinking, ‘is there anything else you had forgotten to throw in there?’.
“But Tony was right. I was just talking in his ears, he slowed right down, I looked back at them and there was nobody challenging me. I just flicked him down the shoulder a few times and he was away.”
Callan also backed Cruz’s assessment that Peniaphobia will be contained to 1,200m or less, despite a HK$5 million bonus on offer if the horse can win the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup and the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize later in the season.
Should he make the trip to Dubai, Peniaphobia is likely to have some company in the form of the three horses finishing behind him, with Lucky Bubbles, Amazing Kids and Not Listenin’tome each holding an entry for the world’s richest race night.
Aerovelocity was the disappointment of the race, finishing last and eased down by jockey Zac Purton while a post-race veterinary inspection showed no abnormalities.