THE $120,000 PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup was run on Saturday night with New Zealand horse Smolda running a track record to take home the money. Smolda joins a prestigious honour roll which includes the 2014 winner Restrepo, Sting Lika Bee and Shakamaker in recent years, joining the likes of Gammalite, Popular Alm and dual winner Sinbad Bay.
Smolda went into the race as the favourite and it was only the final lunge at the line that put Lennytheshark into second place and Bling It On third. Smolda took 1.5 seconds off 2014 Cup winner Restrepo’s track record for 2710m in returning a mile rate of 1:55.3.
Trainer-driver Mark Purdon said Smolda had been unlucky not to have won one of the bigger races in New Zealand this racing campaign.
“He’s earned his time. He’s a great stayer,” Purdon said. “Lenny was the one to beat tonight, but he was in the right place for me to beat him.”
Purdon settled Smolda three back in the running line early as Metro Mike lead from barrier one, with just over two laps to go Purdon launched Smolda and surged to the front not long after. Smolda burned up the track and had a lot of the field flat a long way from home and it was at that stage, Chris Alford launched the other heavyweight Lennytheshark from back in the field, quickly ending up on Smolda’s wheel a lap out.
Purdon upped the ante down the back straight in 28.6 but Lennytheshark was slowly taking ground off him and the two champions fought it out the length of the Ballarat straight. This year’s win has given Purdon his second Ballarat Pacing Cup victory – the first win was in 2012 with Highview Tommy. Smolda, with Purdon at the reins, will be lining up in Saturday’s group 1 $400,000 Victoria Cup at Melton but said he is unsure whether he will be contesting the group 1 $500,000 Hunter Cup at Melton a week later. Smolda was bred in Australia and sold at the Australian Pacing Gold yearling sale to New Zealand buyers, the stable’s first Australian acquisition.