Already a Breeders’ Cup Challenge winner in the January 6 Paddock (G1) last time out, Oh Susanna rewrote the record book by defeating older males in Saturday’s Sun Met (G1) back at Kenilworth. Drakenstein Stud’s homebred reportedly became the first three-year-old filly to garner the prestigious prize in more than 115 years.
By the much-missed Street Cry, Oh Susanna thus joins Winx and Zenyatta as his history-making daughters.
Taking a good hold early for Grant Van Niekirk, the 6-1 Oh Susanna was perched right behind the leaders. Two-time South African Horse of the Year Legal Eagle, runner-up in the last two editions of the Met, was posted in a virtual no man’s land out wide. The near 3-1 favorite eventually had to work his way forward and took over from front-running Krambambuli in upper stretch. At around the same time, familiar foe Captain America punched through to the inside and Marinaresco rallied on Legal Eagle’s outside.
Legal Eagle appeared in tenuous control, until Oh Susanna deployed her long, raking stride. Surging late, she rolled past Legal Eagle. Then Last Winter, held up near the rear after drawing the far outside post 18, unleashed a barnstorming run. But it was too late, and Oh Susanna had a half-length to spare at the line.
The Justin Snaith trainee negotiated about 1 1/4 miles on the good turf in 2:03.50 to score a rare Met victory for her division. According to @Racing_ItsaRush, no sophomore filly had won this race since Chair Lady in 1902, and that came under different conditions as a mile race in October. Turftalk.co.za went back even further, citing 1888 heroine Maid of Honour as the last. (Update: Later reports indicated that it was actually Black Bess in 1905.) In any event, you’re digging in archives from the Boer Wars era.
That puts Oh Susanna’s weight allowance into perspective. She was receiving 18 pounds from Legal Eagle and the other aged males, 17 from Last Winter and his fellow four-year-olds. (Edit: This running was the first under weight-for-age terms. Even so, her 114-pound impost was reportedly not as favorable as the weight spread she would have received under the race’s former terms.)
Marinaresco edged Legal Eagle for third-place honors, with Captain America and African Night Sky also involved in the tight finish. Krambambuli tired to eighth in the 18-horse field.
Oh Susanna, who earned a Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) spot by defeating older distaffers in the aforementioned Paddock, has American relations. She was produced by Grade 2 heroine Sharp Susan, a Touch Gold half-sister to Grade 1 winners Spring at Last and Sharp Lisa from the family of $2.3 million-earning turf star Bien Bien and outstanding sprinter Caravaggio.
Before Oh Susanna’s Group 1 double, she had finished second to her stablemate, Drakenstein co-owned Snowdance, in the December 2 Cape Fillies Guineas (G1). Snowdance took the Paddock flattery in absentia, but returned triumphant on the Met undercard in the Majorca (G1).
Likewise trained by Snaith and piloted by Van Niekirk, the prohibitive 1-4 favorite struck the front under confident handling, wandered a bit, then kicked on again by a safe 1 1/2-length margin. Star Express completed the Snaith exacta, a neck up on Rose in Bloom.
Snowdance, now four-for-five lifetime, covered the metric mile in 1:38.20. The royally bred daughter of Captain Al is out of the Group 3-winning Joshua Dancer mare Spring Lilac, herself a half-sister to South African champions Bela-Bela and Rabiya. Snowdance is also closely related to champion All Is Secret and Group 1 vixen The Secret Is Out, both by Captain Al and out of Spring Lilac’s multiple Group 2-winning half-sister, Secret of Victoria.
Snaith kicked off his Group 1 triple with Sergeant Hardy in the Cape Flying Championship (G1). Another by Captain Al, the 4-1 favorite was prominent throughout on the inside and pulled 1 1/4 lengths clear of Trip to Heaven, who was second for the second straight year. Sergeant Hardy clocked about five furlongs in :58.74 beneath Bernard Fayd’herbe.
Sergeant Hardy’s previous Group success had come in the 2016 Cape of Good Hope Nursery (G3). He was shortening up here off a third in the Diadem (G2) over an extra panel.
To underscore Oh Susanna’s achievement, note that her Met time was more than two seconds faster than the 2:05.62 recorded by Eyes Wide Open in the Cape Derby (G1) earlier on the card.
The Dynasty colt, who won last winter’s Premiers Champion (G1), was sent off at 9-2 following his warm-up victory in the January 6 Peninsula H. (G2). Ridden by Richard Fourie for trainer Glen Kotzen, Eyes Wide Open stayed on strongly from just off the slow pace and took command inside the final furlong.
Snaith’s Do It Again flashed home to grab second, while Kotzen’s Pack Leader got up for third. The wide-drawn Steel Rose, who briefly established a break in upper stretch, grew leg-weary late in fourth. The 3-1 co-favorites, Tap O’ Noth and White River, could not replicate their one-two result from the Cape Guineas (G1). White River fared the better of the two on the stretch-out, reporting home sixth, and Tap O’ Noth was only 13th of 15.