By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
The tried and tested is most of the time a safe bet in racing, but trainer Ricardo Le Grange would still like to see Argentinian import Senor Don spread his wings into less proven territory.
The pint-sized chestnut has had three starts on Polytrack at Kranji for one win and one gallant second, both over the mile, the latter behind Super Dynasty in the Group 3 Colonial Chief Stakes in December.
In contrast, he raced four times on grass without placing, though it must be said three of them occurred in Group events, including the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) in which he ran last.
The Senor Candy four-year-old will definitely not feel all at sea in Saturday’s $70,000 Class 3 race on the Polytrack mile, but Le Grange ultimately wants the Chelsea Stable-owned gelding to add another string to his bow.
“I wish he could bring his sand form into grass one day. Polytrack limits you a bit in terms of racing options,” said the South African trainer.
“If he can go well on grass, we can then look at the better races down the road. There’s only the Colonial Chief Stakes (middle-distance feature race) that is run on Polytrack.”
Being four, the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) would be in the mix should he tick the turf box soon, even if its staging or date has not been confirmed yet.
The doors would also open up to other middle-distance feature races like the Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) or Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1800m), and eventually another shot at the Singapore Gold Cup.
Le Grange won’t get too far ahead of himself at this stage given the feature race line-up for 2021 has not been rolled out yet, content to just build Senor Don up for the time being.
Saturday’s event should on paper suit Senor Don better than his last start when up in grade (Class 2) in a 1100m speed scamper on the all-weather. Niggled at by regular partner Krisna Thangamani to stay in touch with the nippy pace, he flattened out in the run to the line to finish a game fifth to Sacred Rebel.
“Given the limited opportunities, we ran him in what we felt would be more of a pipe-opener. It turned out to be a very good run,” said Le Grange.
“He will jump from four after the scratchings, which is okay, but I haven’t really looked at the field, even if I know Vittoria Perfetta, who is a last-start winner, will be one of the main dangers.
“But I’ll just focus on my horse. With luck in the running, I hope he runs well.
“It was only over this course and distance that he was victorious (Class 3 event on November 15). He also ran a gutsy second in the Colonial Chief Stakes.”
Le Grange is sticking with his four-pound claimer Krisna for the ride. Given Senor Don’s early gate speed and from his handy barrier, they may well cut out the early running.
“Krisna gets on well with Senor Don. He’s done nothing wrong on him (in four rides) so far,” said Le Grange.
“He’s won on him and gave him a great ride at his last start.”
The Malaysian apprentice jockey is riding on the crest of a mini wave having booted home his first two 2021 winners in the last two weeks, Grand Fighter and Perfect, but not for his master yet.