Vega One wins the Listed Suez Queensland Day Stakes (Trackside Photography)
Successful breeder/owner, Peter Anastasiou was playing golf in Vietnam on Saturday and, thus, a long way from Doomben racecourse.
However, Anastasiou did at least get to watch his speedy 3YO, Vega One, display a neat turn of hoof in the Listed Suez Queensland Day Stakes over 1350m … in race record time.
It was Vega One’s first black type victory after coming into the Queensland Day on the back of a second in last month’s Listed Mick Dittman Stakes.
However, the breakthrough hasn’t come without the odd heart murmur for connections.
You see, the trouble is that Vega One has a tendency to get his hind leg over the ledge in the stalls, which has resulted in the 3YO being removed from the gate and vet checked before recent starts. As trainer Tony Gollan pointed out on Saturday: “very frustrating, but he can sure gallop”.
Anastasiou agrees: “He (Vega One) is highly intelligent and I reckon he just gets bored standing around in the barrier. Ironically, he can be extremely quick out of gates and when he has all four feet on the ground he shows just what a good horse he is. Trust me, this is a serious horse.
“He’ll next run in the (Group Three) Fred Best 3YO Classic (over 1400m at Eagle Farm) in a fortnight and a win in that will give him exemption for the ($1.5 million Group One) Stradbroke Handicap on 8 June.”
Having his 11th outing on Saturday, Vega One has won two of his 11 starts with a further five placings, but since his shift last year to Queensland’s sunnier climes, his tally reads two wins and two seconds from four races.
A son of Lope de Vega from the Distorted Humor mare, One Funny Honey, Vega One was purchased on Anastasiou’s behalf for $75,000 at the 2017 Adelaide Magic Millions Yearling Sale.
Anastasiou has raced horses for nigh on 30 years – mostly in recent times with close mate, Ken Biddick – and paid the feed bills for some mighty fine gallopers: Abbey Marie, Rinky Dink, Moonovermanhattan, Unchain My Heart and Hattori Hanzo among them, the latter also being raced in partnership with Black Caviar’s breeder, Rick Jamieson.
Indeed, both Anastasiou and Jamieson shuttle the Invincible Spirit stallion, Cable Bay, to Woodside Park in Victoria. With Cable Bay’s first runners off to a flyer in Europe, his initial crop in Australia will be offered at yearling sales in 2020.
Anastasiou has also enjoyed considerable success overseas as the breeder of French Group One winner and twice Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runnerup, Cloth of Stars, along with South African Group winner, Our Mate Art (bred in Australia). However, Anastasiou is well remembered for importing Forty Niner stallion, Distorted Humor, early in the sire’s stud career.
Standing just the two seasons at Anastasiou’s Grandlodge Thoroughbreds (1999-2000), Distorted Humor left Group One winner Rinky Dink and 4-time Group winner, Like It Is, but since returning to the United States, has produced 16 Group One winners including Kentucky Derby/Preakness Stakes hero, Funny Cide and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, Drosselmeyer.
“It will hardly come as any surprise that I’ve bred quite a few horses from Distorted Humor mares, but at sales I also go and have a look at every yearling out of a Distorted Humor mare,” Anastasiou points out.
“Vega One is actually the first runner from a Distorted Humor mare that I’ve purchased as a yearling. Distorted Humor doesn’t stamp a lot of his stock but this bloke really has that Distorted Humor/Forty Niner look about him and he’s running accordingly.”
Bred by Emirates Park Stud, Vega One is a half brother to Group Two Sweet Embrace winner and Group One Flight Stakes fourth, One More Honey, from One Funny Honey: in turn daughter of Flemington Group winner and VRC Oaks runnerup, Lan Kwai Fong.
One Funny Honey produced a Snitzel colt last spring and is in foal to Fastnet Rock.
“We decided to put Vega One through the (2017) Adelaide Magic Millions and, as we weren’t taking a draft to that sale, he went through under the Stockwell Thoroughbreds banner,” Emirates Park’s General Manager Bryan Carlson explains.
“Emirates likes to keep a share in most of the colts we sell (even though Vega One would subsequently be gelded … and is seemingly all the better for it).
“On top of that, the half sister One More Honey had won the Sweet Embrace just before the sale, plus there’s the Lope de Vega factor … he’s doing a terrific job and I know a lot of farms would love to get him back in Australia.”
Standing at Patinack Farm for four seasons (2011-14), Lope de Vega now resides at Ballylinch Stud in Ireland with an €80,000 price tag. Notching up a black type double on Saturday (with Archedemus winning the Listed Newington Farm Members’ Handicap at Doomben), Vega One becomes the 54th stakes winner for Lope de Vega.
Vega One’s victory also continues the great run for one of Australia’s most successful farms with recent Emirates Park runners including last season’s Champion 2YO and Golden Slipper winner, Estijaab, multiple Group Two winner, Shumookh and nifty 2YO (and now Aquis Farm-based sire) Santos.