Usually the winner of the first race at Wodonga on a Monday may not have the media in a scramble, but for small-time, dedicated breeder Susan Zeitz the victory was certainly equivalent in her eyes to a Group 1 triumph.
The Bel Esprit filly, having her third start for recently relocated Albury trainer Mitch Beer, looked like she was having a simple track gallop, coming away with a five-length lead down the straight over the 1200 metre distance.
“When the caller said that you could put the cue away, I was still worried something may happen. The family has shown incredible talent, but through bad luck and heartbreak they have not been able to reach their potential. However, as soon as she crossed the line, I shed a tear, as it has been a long journey,” Zeitz said.
Beautifully bred, the filly is actually a 5/8 relation to Black Caviar, being out of the Distant Music (USA) mare, Scarletta, who’s dam Danavia, is a daughter of the grand matriarch, Scandinavia. Bred by Dorrington Farm’s Rob Crabtree, Scarletta was a $25,000 purchase at the 2010 August Inglis Thoroughbred sale.
“I loved her, and I loved her page, with Black Caviar, Magnus and Wilander proudly displayed in bold. I remember being at the Valley with dear friend and fellow breeder Ruth Frenzel to see Black Caviar win and we both decided then and there that we wanted one like her. This mare is as close as I can get!” Zeitz said.
“When she was knocked down to me, I had to call Ruth and put her on her Inglis tab and then, as her farm was at capacity, I had to called Brent Grayling at Supreme to see if he could take her home. He was less than impressed, as he was the underbidder!”
While Monday’s win brought great joy to Zeitz, it’s fair to say she and Scarletta have been through some tough times.
Scarletta’s first foal Esprit Joy died of a snakebite while spelling. Her second foal, Scarlet Magnolia, slashed a tendon in pre-training and her next foal was stillborn. Scarletta then missed to Helmet.
“It wasn’t a great start, but resilience is a wonderful thing. We went again, this time to Bel Esprit, and Rarer Than Rubies was born healthy and very aptly named,” Zeitz said.
“It can be harrowing being a breeder, and we promised this filly to Mitch (Beer) at birth to train. Mitch is doing a brilliant job, and he has a share himself, so he is probably spending a fair bit on cotton wool at the moment!”
Zeitz’s mares permanently reside at Digger Rest based Stockwell Thoroughbreds run by Mike and Brodie Becker.
“Mike has a share in Rarer Than Rubies too, so we are all finally enjoying some success, and you wouldn’t want your mares cared for by anyone else, they run a wonderful operation,” Zeitz said.
Scarletta currently has a Zoffany colt headed to the breeze up sales in Sydney next month, who Zeitz sold at the Inglis VOBIS Gold Yearling sale earlier this year for $48,000.
“Let’s hope he can find a good home and is given the opportunity to improve the family,” she said.
Currently heavily in foal to Casino Prince, Scarletta has another Casino Prince on the ground, with both being three quarter relations to All Too Hard. Zeitz is still yet to decide on this season’s suitor.
“She is producing such big foals now. The last one was 76kg and this one will be equally as big. She is healthy but I am like an expectant father, so we will see how she comes through the foaling before we decide; she may have the year off,” Zeitz explained.
And while spring racing is on the cards for Rarer than Rubies, including perhaps attracting some black-type for the pedigree, Zeitz is in no rush.
“We have waited so long to enjoy one of Scarletta’s foals racing, so we will make the most of it. She will be much better in the autumn, and hopefully she has a few seasons on the track ahead of her. We certainly won’t be rushing her off to be a broodmare!”