Miss Santorini has proven she's a filly on the rise after impressing in a an all-the-way victory in the Vale Marina Morel Maiden Showcase Handicap at Mudgee on Sunday.
The first race on Central Districts Racing Association country championship qualifier day, the 1400 metre maiden was dominated by the Kris Lees trained three-year-old.
With apprentice hoop Bailey Wheeler on board, Miss Santorini ($21) controlled the early running and then fended off challengers from some of the more highly-fancied rides to win by about a length-and-a-half from Bjorn Baker's Father's Day ($5), which was the top weight carrying 60.5 kilograms.
Both horses in the quinella are more suited to longer distances, and Sam Clinton from the Kris Lees stables in Newcastle said a win like that over 1400m is a promising sign for the young filly.
She's an immature type (horse), she's a bit quirky ... but it was a really positive ride from Bailey. She's starting to put it together.- Sam Clinton from the Kris Lees stables on impressive filly Miss Santorini
"It was a nice, tough, front-running ride. Stepping up further (in distance) will only benefit her," Clinton said.
"She's an immature type (horse), she's a bit quirky ... but it was a really positive ride from Bailey. She's starting to put it together."
Karen Lunn's hope Case Officer ($101) jumped best out of the gates and led the field early from Baker's Irish stayer and one of the early favourites Tycoon Charger ($3.50).
Around the 1000m mark, Miss Santorini forged to the head of the field - where she would stay for the remaining five furlongs - and it looked like there were four clear runners set to vie for three places.
Alongside the eventual winner sat Case Officer, Father's Day and Tycoon Charger, but none of the latter trio would round up Lees' filly.
With a rail's run, Miss Santorini kicked clear on the straight and despite a looming challenge from Baker's four-year-old managed to kick on and win impressively.
Father's Day was a clear second while a photo for third revealed Street Candi ($13) snuck home for the final place ahead of Rodney Northam's Love Rules.
"We had a good start. There's a lot of improvement in this filly, too," Wheeler said post-race.
"From around the 600 (metre-mark), I liked when we straightened and she ran for the line."
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