Jim Power quite liked the Kooringal Stud-based stallion, Alert. The Group One winning son of Southern Halo is a flashy grey who, at the time of catching Power’s eye, was gaining some renown for producing great types.
So, Power decided to send his broodmare, Gold Locket, to Alert and was pretty pleased when the resultant foal turned out to be a cracking sort.
He was even more pleased when the colt, now named Power Alert, won handily on debut at Albury as a spring 2YO: and, for intents and purposes, had more than his fair share of ability.
Despite a couple of failures in Sydney and a ‘nothing to write home about’ performance in the Black Opal, Power’s faith was reinforced with a smash and grab victory in the prestigious and much beloved, Wellington Boot.
Power and Wagga trainer, Trevor Sutherland, then decided to keep racing Power Alert around bush tracks, where he’d built up a reasonable CV: four wins and three placings from nine starts.
Unfortunately, Power Alert bled after his run in the 2014 Albury Guineas and this was the second time. Under Australian Rules of Racing, it’s a case of two strikes and you’re out – a lifetime ban – so Power and Sutherland were at a loss as to what to do with the now 3YO gelding.
“Trevor and I sat down to talk it over and really weren’t sure what to do next, apart from the obvious option of retiring the horse,” Power recalls. “Anyway, as it turns out, one of the curators at Wagga racecourse is Michael Lynch, whose brother, Brian, is a trainer in North America.
“Over there they have much better facilities for horses that bleed so we decided to send him to America to race.”
With nearly nine months between races, Power Alert made his North American debut in an Allowance race at Gulfstream and, lo and behold, he won.
Three months off, he won again – this time at black type level in the Silks Run Stakes at Gulfstream. Then a fourth – beaten just over a length – in a Grade Three at Keeeneland.
“We were obviously very excited,” Power adds, “and by that stage Trevor and I had still kept full ownership of the horse.
“Then he came out and won the (Grade Three) Twin Spires Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs and broke the course record in the process.
“After that we sold the majority of the horse and just kept a small share each but he’s now won over $US300,000 in America.”
Since resuming in 2016, Power Alert has won twice at stakes level (making it back to back in the Silks Run), run two black type seconds, a third in the Twin Spires and has over $US150,000 in season earnings.
Needless to say, Power Alert’s new trainer has a big opinion of Australian bred horses: “It was a bit of a gamble taking him on originally, as you don’t know if the (Australian) form was going to hold up,” Lynch told Bloodhorse magazine, “but he had run at a few tracks in a few races I was familiar with, and I consider my brother a good judge of horses. He was adamant that the horse had talent, and I was confident that the Aussie form would stand up. Some of their good sprinters have been competitive in Japan and over at Ascot. So I think their sprint racing is pretty strong.
“In Australia they don’t tend to send them out of the gate as hard, so they learn to settle a bit earlier and finish a bit stronger.
“That certainly plays to Power Alert’s favour, especially in sprint races, because we program them to go gate-to-wire. The races tend to be set up for late-running sprinters.”
According to Power, Power Alert is due to race again in the next couple of weeks and believes the horse that went from a country Boot to a track record in the shade of the Twin Spires, has a few more wins left in him.
But what of Alert, who has spent his last nine seasons at leading Riverina, NSW property, Kooringal Stud?
“He (Alert) is moving up to Scone to sire polo horses,” Kooringal’s Stuart Lamont, explains. “He’ll still cover thoroughbred mares too, but is well suited to the new role. He produces beautiful types and we foaled down Power Alert here at the farm for Jim. He was a terrific foal … really easy to do anything with.
“We’ll miss Alert – he’s a lovely natured horse – but we’ve also got our hands full with four other stallions in Magic Albert, Zariz, Krupt and War Front sire, The Brothers War, and a lot of foals.”
Hopefully another Power Alert among them.