Barakey’s unbeaten record remains in tact, but it didn’t come in the manner connections had hoped for with the star Western Australian playing no part in a sensational Sportingbet Oakleigh Plate won by Mrs Onassis.
The Jim Taylor-trained gelding, who has won all 11 of his starts, was scratched at the barrier in a race that revived memories of the infamous 2007 Caulfield Cup, when hot favourite Maldivian was withdrawn at the starting stalls.
Second favourite Shamal Wind, who was also unbeaten, sat down in the stalls moments before the starter was set to release the field, which caused a delay that saw Barakey try to burrow under the gates. He was backed out and ruled unfit to start on vet’s advice.
That paved the way for the Gerald Ryan-trained Mrs Onassis to maintain her phenomenal record over 1100 metres.
The five-year-old daughter of General Nediym registered her seventh win from 12 starts over the trip when she overcame a wide draw to claim the Melbourne Racing Club’s premier sprint race.
It was a big thrill for Ryan, who only contemplated an Oakleigh Plate start a fortnight ago and was encouraged to persist with a start by owner Gerry Harvey.
“Two weeks ago when we got that wet weather in Sydney and a couple of her gallops were below par I thought she just might be fit enough to come here,” Ryan said.
“She worked the reverse way at Rosehill last Friday and her work was OK, nothing good, but I spoke to Claire (Bird, Harvey’s racing manager) Sunday morning about not coming and she spoke to Gerry and he said not to give up so easily.
“But she worked that well on Tuesday morning we thought we’d give her a go.”
The $16 chance scored by a length from Facile Tigre ($15), who had trouble obtaining a run early in the straight, while Spirit of Boom ($11), who was ridden for luck and had to search for runs along the inside, got up for third, three quarters of a length away.
Winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy conceded their job was made easier when Barakey came out but said it was an impressive win from Mrs Onassis.
“She’s still a pretty worthy winner,” McEvoy said. “Obviously we got a bit of luck with the Perth horse coming out, but she has got a nice sprint on her. It was a good win.”
Despite today’s victory which took Mrs Onassis to a share of the equal lead in the G1 Sprint Championship, she is now likely to return to Sydney for The Galaxy, which is run over her pet trip, while the Barakey team will try and regroup ahead of the $1 million Lexus Newmarket Handicap.
Story by Brad Bishop