Nicci Garner: Whisky Baron is well on track to run a big race in the R5-million Sun Met on Saturday 28 January, holding form well to win the R400,000 Peninsula Handicap over 1800m at Kenilworth last Saturday.
It was his fourth win in a row since trainer Brett Crawford had him gelded and many experts believe he might have the ability to give Legal Eagle a fright, even though the favourite is weighted to easily win the richest Grade 1 race in South Africa.
Crawford points out that Whisky Baron, who is currently 9-2 third favourite for the Met, is 13 points or 6.50 lengths inferior to Legal Eagle on merit ratings and will be receiving only 2.5kg (2.50 lengths), but says: “He’s improving with each run. Hopefully there is more to come, otherwise he doesn’t have a chance in the Met.”
In the Peninsular Handicap jockey Greg Cheyne had Whisky Baron in midfield as Milton set the pace. He took a while to unwind once the field cornered into the home straight, but once into full stride, he flew on by and found himself in front in a matter of strides. He went away to win impressively by two lengths from the pacemaker, who stayed on well.
“Whisky Baron went into Saturday’s race fit and well and we’ll just keep him ticking over,” said Crawford, who added his Australian-bred charge was likely to have his final big workout at the public gallops on Thursday 19 January. “After that, it’ll be pretty much a case of tiding him over.”
Crawford-trained Captain America and Sail South finished second and third respectively in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate last Saturday, the former running a great prep for the Met in finishing only 2.25 lengths behind Legal Eagle. He is currently a 20-1 chance for the Met with Betting World.
Said Crawford: “Captain America took the run very well and will also have his final workout at the gallops next Thursday.”
Sail South will be rested “because he doesn’t stay”.
Crawford had a second winner on Queen’s Plate Day in the form of Union Jack in a 1600m MR 86 Handicap. The trainer is hoping he will run as well in a similar class race over the same course and distance on Met Day.