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After being a gallant pacemaker, Oaxaca Lass fell half a length short of winning the $75,000 NZ Standardbred Breeders Stakes at Addington. She put up a spirited fight, and had it been any other mare than Shortys Girl on he tail, she might well have fought the challenge off.

There had been a moment of brief hope for her supporters at the 250m mark when Shortys Girl almost looked on hold, before setting herself for something extra. And sure enough, 50 metres later Oaxaca Lass was in for it. Shortys Girl powered forward, and such was the purpose of her finish that it was quickly clear which way the cake would be cut. In the end it was decisive, and trainer/driver Allan Beck confirmed how decisive it was by saying the mare could have gone another furlong at the same clip.

On the face of it, Oaxaca Lass deserved to be favourite because she was race fit. Shortys Girl wasn't; she was fresh. Her last start was at the NZ Cup Meeting in late November, where she raced three times in ten days. In the two starts following her third in the Cup behind Gracious Knight and Facta Non Verba, she raced like a horse with the edge off her. Beck was not surprised. "She is bred on the same immediate cross as Stars And Stripes, and both of them seem to race best when they are fresh or first-up. We saw that when Stars And Stripes won the Nobilos in the spring. I worked it with her last year, she won the Wairio Cup in a jog. Then we backed up a week later at Gore and Shania Patron sat parked and beat me. The same thing happened to her at Forbury Park this time last year, in the 4-Year-Old Championship. Admittedly, I didn't drive her that good, but we were beaten by Camero and that was again after racing a week before, at Addington."

Beck was not to be fooled again. To prove it, he had her fresh for the NZ Cup Meeting, where she ran third in the Cup at long odds. And he never gave a thought to racing in the PGG Mares' Prelude, the race Oaxaca Lass won the week before. "I gave her a good trial with Makatai Galahad at home, and they had a good race up the straight and there was only a nose between them. That is all she needed, and I knew she was ready," he said.

Once she settled into the trail behind Oaxaca Lass, where Whanau might have been had she been on her game, Shortys Girl had the best trip of all. Beck could see Oaxaca Lass get softened up a little, by Hot Shoe Shuffle then Swift Mirage, but he was still cautiousas he approached the corner. "From day one, she has always run out. I was waiting for it, and could sense she thought about it. But I was ready. I just waited for her to balance up before sending her," he said.

Shortys Girl won the Breeders' Stakes last year, so joins Blossom Lady as a double winner of the race.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 05Feb03

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