Tequila Time wins the Breeders’ Stakes at Morphettville (Atkins Photography)
Adelaide racecaller, Terry McAuliffe, could probably be excused for ramping it up an octave or three as Tequila Time crossed the finishing line in Saturday’s Group Three Dominant Breeders’ Stakes over 1200m at Morphettville.
McAuliffe is a member of the Beer & Skittles group which part-owns the speedy youngster and, while Tequila Time had led his rivals a merry dance throughout, the flashy bay was getting plenty of attention from recent stakes winners, Fundamentalist and Krone, as he neared the wire.
However, the Stratum 2YO held on gamely where it counted and “lick, sip, suck it’s Tequila Time” now has a black-type victory of his own.
Trainer, Leon Macdonald is a tad more laidback and not nearly as vocal, but was no less impressed with the performance.
Macdonald has saddled up many a Group One notable in the past – Gold Guru, Rebel Raider and Umrum among them – and the body language immediately after the race suggested he might have another star in the midst.
Tequila Time’s victory also adds to an impressive tally for his breeder, Willow Grove Stud, whose principal, Ralph Satchell, wisely decided to retain a share in the horse when sold for $170,000 at the 2017 Adelaide Magic Millions: the second highest price for the sale.
First sighted last October when third over 1000m at Morphettville, Tequila Time then ran seven of nine and a decision was made to geld the horse.
“He’s such a lovely type, but was a naughty fellow and had trouble concentrating,” according to Satchell.
“He’s a real professional now though.” Isn’t he what!
Resuming in March, Tequila Time won by nearly four lengths over 1000m at Morphettville and followed it up with an equally emphatic victory over 1100m on 7 April, leading into Saturday’s race.
Satchell understands Tequila Time may be targeting the Group Three SA Sires’ Produce Stakes in a fortnight or the Group Three National Stakes the following week, but Macdonald is clearly looking forward to the Melbourne spring and the rich plums for 3YO sprinters on offer.
The Satchell family has been a major player in the South Australian breeding industry for four decades and sold over 250 winners of nearly 900 races – including 25 stakes horses.
Tequila Time joins other black type winning home breds such as Bargambler, Red Hope, Peleman, Roll On Royce, Astrolante, Bennett’s Green, Allstar and Out of Options, while Group One winning 2YO, Not Related was also sold by Willow Grove.
Situated at Woodside, in South Australia’s Onkaparinga Valley, Willow Grove stands the prolific Hussonet stallion, Host, and the North American Group Two winner, Mint Lane, whose progeny include last month’s stakes winner Willi Willi and boasts an impressive 62% winners to runners strike rate.
“Tequila Time was a standout from day one. An athlete with a terrific attitude,” Satchell recalls.
“He had this really fluent action and definitely caught Leon’s eye at the sale. The eye of a lot of other trainers for that matter.
“Local trainers, and many interstate ones too, know that we’re happy to keep a share in our horses and we’ve currently got shares in around 20, but Tequila Time looks like he has the ability to go all the way.
“Leon said to me after Tequila Time’s first win that he hasn’t ‘declared’ one as capable of Group success since Gold Guru and it turns out he was spot on with the Breeders’ Stakes.
Prior to the race on Saturday, Leon suggested this was Tequila Time’s acid test and if he wins, the sky’s the limit.”
Tequila Time is out of the multiple city winning Encosta de Lago mare, El Milagro, who has produced four winners including God’s Own stakes winner, Inner Warrior, his full brother Concrete Johnny (9 wins) and speedy Mint Lane mare Our Gladiator, winner of a 955 Challenge at Moonee Valley this season.
“She goes so well with the Danehill/Redoute’s Choice line so that’s why I sent her up to Stratum,” Satchell explains.
“She was actually due to go back to Stratum in 2016 and was up there in NSW ready to be covered, but unfortunately the stallion died so she went to Shamus Award instead.
“She’s got a lovely filly from that mating and is currently in foal to Palentino. If either the Shamus Award or the Palentino turn out as good as Tequila Time, I’ll be one happy breeder.”
Tequila Time became the 39th stakes winner for Stratum, who has been represented by an incredible 14 black type winners since he died, including Group One victors such as Takedown, Stratum Star and Miss Wilson, who captured the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes earlier this month.
Widden Stud, which stood Stratum throughout his illustrious career, will be hoping that the dual Group One winning, Stratum Star, can follow in his sire’s hoof-steps after joining the roster last spring and covering 116 mares.