The sprint star no-one is talking about
SANTA Ana Lane will embark on an ambitious international campaign with nothing more to prove to his connections.
With three Group 1 wins last year, it's reasonable to assume that Anthony Freedman's stable star would lead the discussion on who is the best sprinter in the country.
But despite capping a stunning 2018 with the VRC Sprint Classic, following success in The Goodwood and Stradbroke Handicap, Santa Ana Lane has been flying under the radar ahead of a potential return in the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington next Saturday.
Santa Ana Lane won at double-figure odds in all three, and it's not inconceivable to think he'll be similarly underrated in the autumn sprint features.
He is currently rated a $10 chance for the Newmarket and $9.50 for the T.J. Smith Stakes with Ladbrokes.
The six-year-old gelding also won the Group 2 Premiere Stakes last spring in a Randwick 1200m track record.
Freedman's racing manager Brad Taylor was bemused Santa Ana Lane, who also won the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes in 2017, is still being underestimated.
"It really does surprise us," Taylor said.
"He's beaten all the best gallopers. Redzel has been spoken about as the best sprinter at this stage … but the only time Redzel beat him (last prep) was in The Everest on that heavy track.
"We feel he should be right at the top of the markets but we're more than happy for him to go around at double-figure odds.
"I don't think he's got a point to prove. His record last year speaks for itself. We don't need to do that for him.
"He's won four Group 1s. We'll continue to let the horse do the talking."
A decision on a Newmarket start will be made after a jumpout at Balnarring on Wednesday.
He will run in the William Reid Stakes at the Valley before heading to Sydney for the T.J. Smith on April 6.
His overseas itinerary will likely include the Chairman's Sprint Prize (1200m) at Sha Tin on April 28 and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 22.
"He had a nice break after the spring and we've just slowly brought him up this prep," Taylor said.
"He's been in work just before Christmas so he's had a good grounding. All his work has been strong.
"He had a very quiet jumpout the other day at Balnarring and he's taken good benefit from that and he'll certainly benefit as well on Wednesday.
"He's potentially in for a long prep. He doesn't win first-up very often. He'll probably need a race or two to reach his peak.
"We're very happy, we couldn't be more pleased with him."
The July Cup at Newmarket on July 13 hasn't been ruled out and The Everest in the spring was also in the picture.
Taylor is confident Santa Ana Lane will thrive overseas because he's a seasoned traveller in Australia, which has included trips to Perth, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sydney.
The stable was also weighing up the Newmarket for Group 1-winning mare Shoals, who was scratched from the Oakleigh Plate last week after blood tests revealed she wasn't 100 per cent.
She galloped last Saturday morning and will also have a jumpout on Wednesday.
Taylor indicated the William Reid might be a more suitable first-up option for her before the T.J. Smith.
Blue Diamond winner Lyre has pulled up in good order and will have a few days in the paddock before a call is made whether to push on towards the Golden Slipper or spell.