Racing fans in the Western Hemisphere might have an extra reason to pop the bubbly on New Year’s Eve: unbeaten sprint legend Black Caviar will be represented by her first runner when her two-year-old Oscietra debuts at Flemington Saturday night at 9:35 p.m. (ET).
Expectations would be high enough for the princess, as Black Caviar’s first foal by top Australian sire Exceed and Excel, but Oscietra is doing her part to fan the flames. Indeed, the shrewdly named juvenile (whose name refers to a type of caviar) is on course to be quite a luxury item herself.
Trained by the partnership of David Hayes, his son Ben and nephew Tom Dabernig, Oscietra has passed the post first in both of her preparatory “jump-outs” over the course. The first came on December 9, when she broke like a shot and led throughout on the bridle. She learned from that experience in her follow-up December 23, this time vying early before easing ahead late, and in a much faster time.
Oscietra is accordingly garnering favoritism for her first real taste of combat in Flemington’s 1ST race on Sunday’s card, an about five-furlong dash for juvenile fillies dubbed the New Year Plate. She hopes to get her career started the same way as her illustrious dam – Black Caviar dominated first time out over the same track and trip on April 18, 2009.
David Hayes spoke of the impending debut to the Australian media, in a video available on racing.com.
“When she showed me she was pretty good,” Hayes said, “and we were looking at the program where to run her, I thought, ‘well, maybe lightning will strike twice,’ and we decided to run where Mum stepped off. No better track than Flemington to launch a good horse.”
Although Oscietra is smaller than Black Caviar, Hayes sees echoes of the dam’s speed, unflappable temperament, and professionalism. He didn’t train Black Caviar (that distinction went to Peter Moody, who’s no longer in the training business), but Hayes was a close enough observer of the great mare.
“Every little step and test I’ve given her, she’s done it herself, which is very Mum-like. We never really saw Mum get under much pressure, ever, except at Ascot (when sustaining pulled muscles in the 2012 Diamond Jubilee [G1]). And every little gallop I’ve given her, she’s done it under her own steam, never had to ask her, and she’s always had the partners she’s been working with covered.
“She sort of looks like she’s got that family high cruising speed and a big stride.”
Hayes added that no one can be properly compared to Black Caviar, but Oscietra “compares very favorably to a lot of good horses I’ve trained in the past.”
Still, Hayes is taking nothing for granted, and admitting to a bit of “performance anxiety” in advance of raceday.
“I’d hate her to flop, and I don’t think she will. There’s a lot of horses don’t win on debut, but we’re hoping she can.
“I’d love to see them all gradually come off the bit following her like they did against Mum, but look, I’ll be just happy if she scrambles home.”
Speaking to racingandsports.com.au, Hayes critiqued Oscietra’s skimpy odds ($1.50) on offer by the bookmakers.
“I hope they’re right, but I am a little bit surprised. I don’t think that’s very good value at all.
“Her mother was in Group 1s at that price and she’s in her first race and we don’t know how good the opposition are.”
Oscietra’s 11 rivals include Tony McEvoy’s Miss Wahoo, third in her unveiling in the listed Inglis Debutant S. at Caulfield; Limestone, a close third in her debut at Moonee Valley for Darren Weir; a minor winner in Carusmatic, who’d been drubbed in her Ottawa (G3) debut at Flemington; and several other firsters, including stablemate Outboard Motors (who wants further, Hayes believes), the Mick Price-trained Royal Disguise, and Miss Vixen, first in her barrier trial at Cranbourne.
Should Oscietra prevail, Hayes is hunting for black-type next, already mentioning a Blue Diamond Prelude (G3) as a logical step.
Thus begins a whole new chapter in the Black Caviar tale. But there remains continuity, not only in the genes, but in the saddle too. Oscietra’s rider is none other than Luke Nolen, the regular pilot of Black Caviar.
You can watch, and wager on, Oscietra’s race live on TwinSpires.com.