Geoff Woodruff’s Grade 1 Daily News 2000 entry Pagoda arrived at Summerveld on Wednesday night looked to have travelled well. The five-times champion trainer lamented his bad luck with draws in Durban this season and his pair of horses he brought down were the latest to be “drawn out in the bush”.
Mogok gelding Pagoda is currently in 15th place on the Vodacom Durban July log and Woodruff aims to “pop him into the July” with a low weight. He clarified, “The Daily News is always a tough race for the Johannesburg horses because they have just come off a long, hard season and it is more a race to keep the horses going for the July and also to show them the course.”
He reckoned Pagoda was a July type of a horse and the big race had always been his target. He said, “He is small and neat and has a nice turn of foot. If you have a three-year-old coming into the July with 53kg or 54kg you know you are in the hunt.”
Pagoda would, as things currently stand, have to carry 53kg. However, off his 101 merit rating he would be 2kg under sufferance. Last time out in the Grade 1 SA Derby over 2450m on the tough Turffontein Standside track, Pagoda was running close up to the eventual winner Al Sahem midway through the race when an incident caused him to be shuffled right to the back.
Woodruff said, “That was not the plan at all, but Gavin (Lerena) had him on the rail and he became caught in a box behind a slowing horse.” Pagoda then ran on strongly from last to finish a 1,75 length second. Woodruff said realistically Pagoda might have finished closer, but doubted he could have won the race. He also felt realistically Pagoda would not be able to reverse form on Saturday with Al Sahem facing him at level weights again.
As things stand, Pagoda will receive 0,5kg from Al Sahem in the July. However, if the latter converts favouritism on Saturday the weight differential might change significantly.
In his penultimate start Pagoda was reminiscent of one of the best Mogok’s, The Apache, in that he crept up steadily in the straight until the 300m mark and then when Lerena pressed the button he kicked impressively and went away from the field to win by 3,3 lengths. Chase Maujean replaces the now England-based Lerena and will have to negotiate a number ten draw in a twelve horse field.
Mogok has produced Gr1 winners The Apache, Gypsy’s Warning, Wild One and Orbison to date. Look out for more of his progeny at the upcoming KZN Yearling Sale.