By Duane Ranger
How fitting it was last night (Saturday) to see Albion Park’s joint track record holder, Cruz, bring up a personal milestone for New South Wales horseman, Craig Cross.
The Cobbitty trainer racked up his 200th win of the season at ‘The Creek’ when Cruz (pictured) won the Garrards’ Horse & Hound Open Pace (Race 3).
The 200 is a personal best. He achieved his double ton from 740 starts and is currently fourth on the national training premiership – 68 wins behind Queensland’s Grant Dixon (three winners Saturday).
Cross has also placed 176 times and netted $3.6m in stakes in 2019-2020. Last year he finished 15th with 110 winners ($1.4m) and the season before he was 14th with 105 victories.
The Cross stable has produced 11 winners at the last five Saturday meetings at Albion Park, with the undoubted highlight being Cruz’s four-metre victory over Queensland’s current Horse-of-the-Year, Colt Thirty One, in the Wondais Open on July 11.
Cruz paced the 1,660m in a track record equalling of 1:53.9 (mile rate 1:50.4). Sectionals: 27.1, 29.2, 27.7, and 26.5.
Driver, Leonard Cain reckons he could have gone faster if pressed.
“Cruz felt awesome that night and just done it all in second gear,” Cain said.
Up until July 11 the Albion Park track record was held by Im Themightyquinn in the 2014 Sunshine Sprint.
Last night Cruz (6) and Chris Geary trailed Maywyns Best for most of the 1,660m mobile and then pounced late to beat him by 1.8m. Cruz was the $1.30 favourite.
The 6-year-old American Ideal – Close To Heaven (Dare You To) gelding stopped the clock in 1:54.3 (mile rate 1:50.8) and his sectionals were 30.2, 30.3, 28.2, and 27.8.
“The 200 wins is an amazing achievement and a credit to Craig and Luke (McCartyhy) and all the team at Cobbitty Equine.
“Praise must also go to Matt Coffee who’s doing a super job with the horses here in Queensland. My job is only small compared to what he’s doing day in day out up here. I’m just so thankful to be a small part of it,” said driver, Geary.
Cruz has now won 26 of his 75 starts and placed in 20 others for just over $260,000.
He has gone quicker than his two 1:50.4 and 1:50.8 mile rates at Albion Park.
Cruz went under the magic 1:50 mark at Tabcorp Park Menangle on March 21 this year.
That evening he and Todd McCarthy paced a 1:49.9 mile rate when defeating Expressionist and Fouroeight in the Menangle Country Club Open Pace.
Cross’s 11 victories at the last five Saturday night meetings at Albion Park have been:
July 4: The Chris Geary trained Love My Sister.
July 11: The Leonard Cain driven Culture King, Cruz, and Roll One Over.
July 18: The Leonard Cain driven Roll One Over, Cruz, Culture King, and Galleons Victory.
July 25: The Chloe Butler driven Culture King.
August 1: The Chris Geary driven Shanway and Cruz.