Champion Juvenile Be Bee, with blinkers off and helped by a fast pace, stormed home to capture the $250,000 Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint over 1,200m at Kranji yesterday.
In what was one of the most open first leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge series, the Shane Baertschiger-trained New Zealand-bred did give his connections a bit of a scare when racing worse than midfield instead of his usual on-the pace style.
But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as he saved enough petrol to explode in the final 200m to win going away by one-and-a-quarter lengths in 1min 09.89sec on a yielding track.
There was a scrimmage for the minor placings. Last-start winner Mr Clint flashed home to beat Captain Jamie by a short head for second, with a similar margin to the circuit's highest-rated three-year-old Augustano. A neck away came runaway debut winner and $15 favourite Mister Yeoh.
It was quite a training feat by Baertschiger to remove the blinkers and ease down the speed work on last term's Auric Stable-owned Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe winner and Champion 2YO.
Yesterday's hotly contested race started with a bunch of horses vying for the lead. The Michael Clements-trained Yabadabadoo, a winner of three of his five starts, assumed the rabbit's role on settling down. Mister Yeoh hounded him, closely followed by Safeer, Filibuster and Nowyousee. Be Bee was further back, a bit wide.
Yabadabadoo tired shortly after straightening. Safeer loomed up on the inside. On the outside, jockey Michael Rodd pumped up Mister Yeoh to hit the front at the 300m mark. But, once out into the clear, jockey John Powell stoked up Be Bee and the $25 second favourite produced an explosive run to score his fourth success in eight starts.
Grinning, Baertschiger said: "Well, this is the main objective, you know. I had him back (from a brief spell) quite early in December and he won first-up. He then was a little bit unlucky. He got run off the track and he got cannoned into.
"I tried a few things with him, had the blinkers on, but it didn't do a lot for him, so I took it off and went back to basics with him. When he won the Aushorse championship, his last gallop I went even time with him, as I thought I might have trained him too hard. So he had a good gallop last week and, this week, he only went 45, went evens.
"It was a great ride by Johnny. I didn't think he would be that far back. I was panicking a bit, but Johnny knew what he was doing. I knew there would be a lot of speed but I still thought he might be in midfield but not fourth-last. But it was a great win. The horse has done a great job and we will go on to the second leg."
The second leg - the $500,000 Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic over 1,400m - will be on April 22.
Powell reckoned the 1,400m trip will be right down Be Bee's alley, if ridden quietly.
"I think he'll maybe get further if we ride him off the speed. I think if you push him up into a position, he just doesn't finish off strongly, so maybe 1,400m is suitable, as long as there's good speed," he said.
"Look, he has been a nice horse. He was probably a little bit unlucky in his last couple of starts. He raced against older horses and I reckon we rode him too close. I think he's a better horse when settled back. Today, luckily, they went pretty quick and I sat back. When he went to the outside, he picked up really well."
Friday's South Africa results
1st 5 Tashunca ($9-$7)
1st 11 Profs Pet ($9-$5.10)
3rd 4 Samurai Dragon ($34)
4th 13 Katalyka
Place Forecast (5-11) $6, (4-5) $24, (4-11) $46
Tierce (5-11-4) $291, (11-5-4) $583
Quartet No winner ($1,754 jackpot carried forward to next race)
Scratchings: 3 No Fly Zone, 9 Seattle Lily, 12 Mexican Aster, 15 Miss Evolution
1st 4 Chinkapin ($28-$10)
2nd 1 Widow's Lamp ($5.10)
3rd 5 Searching ($14)
4th 6 Summer Moon
Place Forecast (1-4) $5, (4-5) $13, (1-5) $9
Tierce $117 Trio $22
Quartet $447 Quadro $17
1st 9 Fools Garden ($14-$7)
2nd 5 State Capture ($6)
3rd 4 Mahir ($19)
4th 10 Wahi
Place Forecast (5-9) $7, (4-9) $18, (4-5) $20
Tierce $176 Trio $46
Quartet No winner ($322 carried forward)
Scratching: 2 Tombodi
1st 9 Warrior Poet ($52-$19)
2nd 2 I Will Be ($10)
3rd 10 Winter Trade ($10)
4th 8 Suave
Place Forecast (2-9) $28, (9-10) $17, (2-10) $9
Quartet No winner ($508 carried forward)
Scratchings: 16 Chestnut Wild, 18 Stir It Up
1st 10 Altitude ($15-$8)
2nd 5 Blue Rhone Sky ($20)
3rd 3 Bring Me More ($8)
4th 15 Diamond Dynasty
Place Forecast (5-10) $22, (3-10) $5, (3-5) $27
Quartet No winner ($582 carried forward)
Scratching: 17 Saint - Lazare
1st 5 Sabbatical ($36-$10)
2nd 9 What A Player ($12)
3rd 1 Kimberley Star ($7)
4th 8 Queen Forever
Place Forecast (5-9) $16, (1-5) $15, (1-9) $17
Quartet No winner ($946 carried forward)
Result of Race 7 was not available at press time. Log on to www.turfclub.com.sg for the results.