Punters gave him the wide berth because of, well, his wide berth.
Even his trainer didn't think he could win. But, when things fall into place or Lady Luck is with you, anything can happen in racing.
That was what happened to $256 shock all-the-way winner Waialae in the $85,000 Restricted Maiden event over 1,400m on a yielding track in Race 2 at Kranji last night.
Carrying the familiar dark blue-yellow stars-white sleeves of prominent owner Bernard Lee, Waialae was friendless in the betting having drawn the widest gate 16. But he still started from the carpark after taking out a scratching and the second emergency acceptor who failed to secure his place in the capacity field.
To compound the problem, the Lee Freedman-trained three-year-old Australian-bred did not impress in his debut on Feb 27 although his trials were good. At $256 for a win, Waialae was the fifth least-backed runner last night.
But, aloha, those who supported Waialae must be praying hard for a wonderful surprise when the horse named after a place in Hawaii rocketed to the front and secured a cheap sectional.
Jockey Craig Grylls managed to cross in beautifully to lead by two lengths and clock the first 400m in 25.02sec. Zulu Warrior was rushed up on the outside to be less than a length away at the halfway mark. Then came Lady Counsel and Venus De Milo. Cracking Tottie made up ground after a slow start to be fifth on the shortest route home.
Waialae kicked to a two-length lead on straightening. Zulu Warrior was already defeated, leaving Lady Counsel to give chase but to no avail. Jockey Michael Rodd extricated Cracking Tottie from a tight situation on the inside to close in nicely. But the bird had flown. Waialae went on to win by one-and-a-half lengths in 1min 23.65sec.
With his widest draw, Freedman knew there was no choice but to lead and ride for luck on the yielding track. It certainly paid off. The Australian Hall of Fame trainer was also thrilled to saddle his first winner for Lee, who enjoyed great successes with his brother Michael at Kranji, including triple-Group winner Always Certain.
"I said to Craig, you know, we had drawn a bad gate. The only thing we can do is to fire him up and go to the front and, hopefully, the conditions will play into our favour," said Freedman.
"I'm really thrilled with the win. Bernard has been a great client of ours, both in Australia and here with Michael over the years, with Always Certain and those horses.
"I spoke to Bernard we have a bad draw and we will probably go forward and probably can't win from that draw. But, when they ended up and let him run about 25sec for the first two (furlongs/400m), it was pretty much over.
"It was a really big field, you'd expect a bit more trouble but he got an easy lead and Craig got a lovely rest on him, and I'm just thrilled that Bernard won a race for this year. He has won plenty with Michael and now he has won one with me."
Grylls was pleasantly surprised Waialae flew the gates and secured such an easy lead despite having the rest of the field on his inside.
"Lee said to me before the race that he's drawn a bit wide but he has shown a bit of speed in his trials. He was out really fast and I was able to cross in easily and I was able to get a cheap sectional. He was travelling really good and, into the straight, he just kicked on," said the New Zealand rider.
Friday’s South Africa results
1st 10 Horse Haizi ($16-$8)
2nd 3 Pepper Dust ($29)
3rd 1 Seattle Lily ($5.10)
4th 9 Sport Chic Forecast $94
Place Forecast (3-10) $26, (1-10) $5, (1-3) $16 Tierce $474 Trio $53 Quartet No winner ($1,468 jackpot carried forward to next race)
1st 9 Klever Kathy ($35-$11)
2nd 2 Vertical ($8) 3rd 1 Bertina ($7)
4th 3 Watsonia
Forecast $44 Place Forecast (2-9) $10, (1-9) $9, (1-2) $7 Tierce $354
Trio $33 Quartet $542
1st 2 Star Burst Galaxy ($9-$5.10)
2nd 11 Reine Tonnerre ($32)
3rd 9 Anglet ($17) 4th 1 Easy Street
Forecast $71 Place Forecast (2-11) $24, (2-9) $9, (9-11) $135 Tierce $626 Trio $288 Quartet No winner ($358 carried forward)
1st 1 Green Field ($12-$7)
2nd 12 Abramo ($6)
3rd 5 Grey Halo ($24)
4th 7 Rasta Bay
Forecast $12 Place Forecast (1-12) $5, (1-5) $14, (5-12) $32 Tierce $248
Trio $66 Quartet No winner ($612 carried forward)
Scratching: 13 Auf Viedersehen
1st 1 Juan Two Three ($7-$5.10)
2nd 11 Le Grand Rouge ($17)
3rd 3 Omega Onslaught ($11)
4th 9 Isphan
Forecast $28 Place Forecast (1-11) $11, (1-3) $6, (3-11) $37
Tierce $167 Trio $106
Quartet No winner ($1,872 carried forward)
Results of Races 6 and 7 were not available at press time. Log on to www.turfclub.com.sg for the results.