abel tasman the ccao 2a

Abel Tasman has now won three successive G1 races

Abel Tasman moved a step closer to measuring herself against some of the very best American fillies of the last decade when posting her third successive G1 win in the USD300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga in the United States early this morning.

The victory saw the Bob Baffert trained filly eclipse the G1 tallies of recent Eclipse Award winning fillies Stellar Wins (2015), Questing (2012), Royal Delta (2011) and Proud Spell (2008), equal the mark of Blind Luck (2010) and move to within range of the truly exceptional Songbird (2015), Untappable (2014) and Rags to Riches (2007) who collected four majors each in their classic season. Hall of Famers Rachel Alexandra (2009) and Beholder (2013) set the mark of five G1s in their classic seasons.

“We don’t want to measure Abel Tasman against some of the superstars of recent US racing just yet, there is plenty of time to do that once her racing career has come to a close,” said Michael Wallace, Head of Bloodstock and Racing for the China Horse Club.

“But there is no escaping that she is assembling a wonderful record and, just as importantly, that she is demonstrating her versatility with every start she has under Mike Smith.

“She has now won from the front and won from the back. She has won when come inside horse and won from coming outside horses. She has won in the wet and in the dry and she has won over a variety of courses on the east coast and the west coast.

“She is just a very good filly and it is a pleasure to be a part of this filly with a wonderful group of owners in Clearsky Farm and China Horse Club, with Mike Smith and with Bob Baffert and his stable.”

Abel Tasman’s victory in the Coaching Club American Oaks was not without incident as the celebration of connections was delayed by a stewards’ inquiry into the final stages of the event. However, after closer inspection, it was judged that champion jockey Mike Smith had not unfairly hampered his rival Jose Ortiz on runner-up Elate and the result stood.

It was a heady performance from Abel Tasman as Smith asked the filly to make two runs in the race. With her customary slow start seeing her positioned second last in the early stages of the race, Smith caught his rivals off guard down the back straight when allowing his charge to roll forward to the lead and then starved off the challenges thrown at him over the closing stages.

“There was no pace in the race. Everyone threw the anchor out and went to slow down,” the jockey reported post race.

“[Abel Tasman] got into such a pretty stride and felt so good, I didn’t want to get in the way of it. If I did, I felt like I’d hurt her more than help her. She’s capable of that, and once she gets in that big, beautiful stride, that’s where you want her. It was there. I took it. If I had got beat, it would have been horrible.”

In the home straight Abel Tasman and Elate pulled clear of rivals and on the line Abel Tasman held the advantage by ahead. Explaining the competitive riding over the concluding stages, Smith explained that his mount switches on and off and that he needed to get her back into the contest by drawing her closer to her rival.

“My filly really waits,” Smith said. “Once she was in there, she was engaged. I made sure that I didn’t touch [Jose Ortiz].

“I made it tight, but there’s no rules that say you can’t make it tight. They make it tight on me all the time and I’m too old for that. It’s a questionable move that I would have questioned myself if I got beat. But I didn’t, so I liked it.”

The triumph of Abel Tasman came just 48 hours after an equally significant market was achieved in China by the rugged gelding General Zabeel. The former Australian based performer became the first winner for Inner Mongolia Yitai Desert Star Horse Industries outside of its home base of Ordos.


“The significance of General Zabeel’s win cannot be understated. Yitai Desert Star has great ambitions and this is one of the first performers they have had compete outside of their home circuit and to win is rewarding for all involved,” Wallace added.

“A great deal of credit needs to be extended to our training team in China especially Deon Visser, who oversees General Zabeel’s training, and Liu San Ping who rode with such poise. It would not surprise me at all if we look at back this result in a few years’ time and understand its significance as the impact of Yitai Desert Star grows and grows.”

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