After missing out on a start in a Group One race in Queensland, bargain buy Widgee Turf has returned to Melbourne racing with a narrow but impressive win at Moonee Valley.
Bought for $4500 as a weanling, Widgee Turf’s victory in Saturday’s Catanach’s Jewellers Plate (1200m) took the four-year-old gelding’s career earnings past $720,000.
Trainer Patrick Payne said he was going to run Widgee Turf in last Saturday’s $1.5 million Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) at Doomben, won by Santa Ana Lane, but when he was balloted out, attention shifted to Saturday’s race closer to home.
“I’m not sure he’s good enough for a Stradbroke but I just thought with 51 kilos, and he loves heavy ground, that we would give him a chance in it,” Payne said.
“He was heading up there but he didn’t get a run so he came back here.
“He likes it here (at Moonee Valley) and we’ll just quietly sneak through the winter time and maybe find an early race in the spring when it’s soft and the good horses aren’t fit.”
Widgee Turf, who is raced by Gordon and Marlene Mcintosh, has nine wins from 19 starts and has won six times in town this season.
“He’s a tough horse,” Payne said.
With his regular jockey Billy Egan aboard, Widgee Turf settled second last in the field of nine before tracking up strongly on the home turn.
When a gap appeared in the straight, Widgee Turf ($4.80) pounced on the outside of $3.60 favourite Ashlor to beat him by a neck, with Malaise ($8.50) three-quarters of a length away third.
“I think the ride won the race,” Payne said.
“At the handicaps, we didn’t have an inch up our sleeve. He found a resting, peaceful spot, cut the corner and just got there.”
Egan said they were fortunate the runs came when they did but Widgee Turf was able to capitalise.
“This is his time of year with the wet tracks,” Egan said.
Group One winner Bon Aurum, who was having his first start since the 2016 spring carnival after knee problems, was eased out of the race approaching the home turn and finished a long last.
Stewards reported the horse pulled up lame in the near foreleg.