California Spangle will again take aim at Golden Sixty after dismantling the Group Three Celebration Cup (1,400m) field with a performance trainer Tony Cruz labelled the “easiest race he’s ever had”.
Sent off at $1.1, California Spangle went straight to the front of the six-horse contest and never looked troubled, with Zac Purton sitting like a statue as the four-year-old coasted to a two-length victory over Healthy Happy.
“He’s just won the easiest race he’s ever had. Zac took it so easy, it made the race look like he hardly had to push the horse,” Cruz said of California Spangle, who stopped the clock in 1:20.49 – a time .71 of a second inside standard. “He went to the front and he got the rail and at the home turn he could relax.”
California Spangle improved his record to seven wins from 11 starts and now he has saluted over 1,000m, 1,200m, 1,400m and 1,800m, while he was runner-up to Romantic Warrior in the Hong Kong Derby (2,000m) and Golden Sixty in the Group One Champions Mile last season.
Cruz had considered targeting sprinting trips this season but confirmed after Sunday’s rout the Group Two Sha Tin Trophy (1,600m) on October 16 will be his galloper’s next target as he plots a course towards the Group One Hong Kong Mile on international day.
“I think he’s a miler. He’s a real front runner. At the 1,200m it’s hard to get to the front if you’ve drawn wide, but in the 1,600m there’s no fast horses around. I think he will be the fastest one and easily lead the race and have it his own way again,” Cruz said.
“[Zac] said the horse can relax even better now than last season, so there’s been improvement in him. He can relax in a race much better than before and he thinks we need to go a mile race next time.
“He used to be a bit cheeky and fresh, but he seems to have calmed down a lot. He doesn’t seem to play around anymore, and I think he is an improved horse.”
After the Sha Tin Trophy, California Spangle is expected to run into a resuming Golden Sixty in the Group Two Jockey Club Mile on November 20.
Both Golden Sixty and Beauty Generation have springboarded off Celebration Cup success to win the Hong Kong Mile within the past five years, and Cruz is looking forward to seeing how far his rising star can go.
“We will see when it comes to Group Ones because the field was weak today. Come Group Ones at the international races, we will see how good he is,” the trainer said.
Purton has been aboard for four of California Spangle’s wins, including his Classic Cup success last season, and he is confident there’s plenty more to come from the son of Starspangledbanner.
“He settled a lot better today – especially on that speed – and handled it better, which was really, really good. It bodes well for the future. If he keeps racing that kindly, he’s going to help himself,” Purton said of California Spangle, who went inside standard for every sectional except the final 400m.
“They don’t run that time if they’ve got much left. He was at his top.”