Pacific Emperor doubles the dose
Bypassing Singapore Guineas for softer option pays off for Clements’ new find
A decision to sidestep the Group 2 Singapore Guineas in favour of the less lofty $50,000 Class 4 Division 2 race (1,200m) proved to be a clever move for Pacific Emperor on Saturday.
Following the Caravaggio three-year-old’s smashing debut win in a similar Class 4 Polytrack event on April 29, the mile leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge might spring to mind as a legitimate next target.
Except that such a pathway at that early stage of his budding career was a bit of a long shot.
With Pacific Emperor typecast as a sprinter, tackling such a tough mile race second-up would not quite be textbook material.
Even after the Singapore Guineas was postponed by a week, the extra leeway would not help much.
Besides, the Pacific Stable already had Pacific Warrior and Pacific Star as confirmed starters.
Clements also had second-leg (Classic) winner Coin Toss and Takanini (who was eventually scratched) in the mix.
Nonetheless, Clements and the owners could not rule it out completely, especially with the oft-quoted “you turn three only once” rationale. They still entered Pacific Emperor on standby.
However, when Pacific Emperor stepped out for a grass gallop on Monday, some wondered if it was a giveaway clue he would run in the Guineas after all.
All speculation was put to rest later in the afternoon when the final handicaps came out.
Pacific Emperor was not thrown in at the deep end.
Clements said the Monday hit-out was no red herring, but just to shed some extra low-down on the gelding, moving forward.
At his short racing career as Smax in Australia, where he was trained by Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr, Pacific Emperor brought up a record of one win at Ballarat on the synthetic track and one third at Cranbourne.
“We did enter him in the Guineas, but as he is by a sprinting stallion, it was logical to keep him at sprints in the end,” said the Zimbabwe-born handler.
“I gave him a grass gallop on Monday to find out how he would handle the turf, and he handled it very well.
“But we had already made up our minds we would skip the Guineas, mainly because of the distance.
“He also started his preparation late and he has not been here long.
“I didn’t want to bump him up to the mile against smart horses, it was unknown territory. I elected to go for the 1,200m race on Polytrack instead.”
Clements’ divide-and-conquer strategy paid handsome dividends. He eventually won the Singapore Guineas as well with Coin Toss.
It would be premature to predict whether Pacific Emperor would climb to the same heights one day.
But, from his two grandstand wins by aggregate margins of more than eight lengths, he sure is not without a motor.
He did have old stager Flak Jacket (Mohd Zaki) serving it up to him from the start, but still looked full of running when he swung for home.
The moment jockey Wong Chin Chuen gave him a slight squeeze, he was off and gone.
Outsider Southern Speed (Manoel Nunes) did pull some ground off him late, but was still relegated to second place by 4½ lengths.
Flak Jacket hung on bravely for third, another 3/4 lengths away.
The winning time was 1min 11.57sec for the Polytrack 1,200m.
“He has come on from his first race. Ability-wise, he is not a Class 4 horse, he will end up against Class 3 horses now,” said Clements.
“I’ll keep him to sprints for now, but eventually, he should get the mile, especially on his dam side.
“Later on his preparation, we may look at the sprint features like the Rocket Man Sprint or Merlion Trophy if he keeps going through his grades.”