Palentino’s affinity for Flemington has continued with the Darren Weir-trained horse upsetting his stablemate Black Heart Bart in the Group One Makybe Diva Stakes.
Giving Weir the first one-two Group One finish of his training career, Palentino ($9) unleashed a devastating turn of foot in Saturday’s 1600m weight-for-age race to chase down $2.05 favourite Black Heart Bart to win by a length.
The stablemates drew clear, with He Or She ($13) another two lengths away third.
Palentino is yet to be beaten across the line at Flemington from four starts but did lose the CS Hayes Stakes earlier this year on protest.
He has now won two Group Ones at Flemington with his first coming in the Australian Guineas in March.
After Saturday’s victory third-up from a spell, Palentino will now be put on a path to the Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley.
“He’s a genuine superstar,” winning jockey Mark Zahra said.
“You’d love the Cox Plate to be here. The way he settled and found the line, there’s no reason why not to go for it. The only downside is the tighter track and up in trip but he’s getting better with racing.”
Zahra said he knew when Palentino settled well in a midfield position that he would run home strongly, but he just needed to get clear running from the top of the straight which he did.
Black Heart Bart settled fourth and hit the front at the 300m before Palentino emerged on his outside.
“Today his turn of foot was electric,” Zahra said.
Zahra said he thought he could get up to Black Heart Bart in the straight but wasn’t sure if he would get past him.
Weir was thinking the same.
“When he got to the outside of Black Heart Bart, I didn’t know whether he would get past him but I thought he would test him,” Weir said.
“Obviously just having the one extra run this preparation helped him, and the other horse ran great as well.”
Black Heart Bart won the Memsie Stakes first-up and jockey Damien Oliver said he was brave in defeat on Saturday.
“We arrived a little sooner than I wanted to but if I had of come back and waited I would have been checking him to come back,” Oliver said.
“The winner had the last crack at him but he was very brave in defeat.”