Racing: Surprise improver looks the real deal

By Michael Guerin

Natalie Rasmussen.  Photo / Greg Bowker
Natalie Rasmussen. Photo / Greg Bowker

Best Deal Yet is becoming the greatest surprise of the pacing season.

The Kiwi 3-year-old capped a wonder winter with an effortless victory in the A$100,000 Queensland Derby on Saturday night, leading all the way for Natalie Rasmussen.

There had been plenty of conjecture before the race over whether he could dominate the race but Rasmussen simply took control from the start, letting Best Deal Yet roll off the mobile start to lead, and from there she was hard pressed holding him back to the field

She only really asked him to stride out at the top of the straight and he won without being touched.

The field may have lacked star power but Best Deal Yet's time for the 2680m was 0.1 of a second faster than Ideal Scott's mile rate for the 2700m of the Woodlands Derby at Alexandra Park in March.

The win was trainer Mark Purdon's third Derby success this season, having won the NZ Derby with Fly Like An Eagle and the NSW Derby with Smolda.

But while that pair had huge reputations entering the autumn, Best Deal Yet was considered just a promising lower-grade pacer.

Since then he has won three times in Australia and three times at home for nearly $200,000 in stakes.

"Smolda is still our best 3-year-old but this guy has caught up to the rest of them," said Rasmussen.

Earlier on the night, veteran pacing hero Smoken Up had to settle for third after leading in the Sunshine Sprint, run down by former Kiwi pacer Motu Crusader.

In Auckland, 2-year-old pacer Bit Of A Legend warmed up for next month's Australasian Breeders Crown by beating the older horses at Alexandra Park yesterday.

He will join stablemates Chanelle Bromac and Onlyforyou in Cran Dalgety's team for the rich ABC series, but Sires' Stakes winner Texican will miss the series after his owners decided not to send him.

Other New Zealand-trained juveniles Border Control and Major Star will be hot favourites to win their ABC heats in Victoria tomorrow night, while Northern Oaks winner Twist And Twirl races in a heat on Wednesday night.

- NZ Herald

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