BETTOR’S FIRE TOPS $1NZ MILLION AS 11-YEAR-OLD
By Jeff Scott
The tough front-running prowess of veteran former ex-Kentuckiana Lodge peformer Bettor’s Fire has been a nemisis for his rivals in three countries for the last eight years.
Racing as an evergreen 11-year-old, the big-winning Bettor’s Delight-Sparks A Flyin gelding continues to make be a force in North America.
With his charging barrier speed, he was again too tough in front in a $US14,000 pace at Plainridge Park, Maine, on Monday (NZ time), winning by 2 and 1/4 lengths in 1:51.4.
Bettor’s Fire, still co-owned by Perth’s Frank Ranaldi, where he raced successfully for years for the Kyle Harper stable, was exported last year to America, being unbeaten in his first four USA starts.
He’s been a revelation for the Heidi Gibbs stable this year, winning another $US144,470 .
Bettor’s Fire, despite his advanced years, has lowered his mile best to 1:50.1 (fifth) on a five furlongs (1000m) track.
In 23 appearances in 2019, he’s racked up another eight wins, two seconds and five thirds, including wins in a notable early year $US44,000 open pace win at Yonkers on January 30.
Former trainer Cran Dalgety says Bettor’s Fire, in hindsight, was old out of NZ a little prematurely after winning 11 of 30 starts for $79,192.
“He had done a good job but has risen to a tough grade here, where others were just better than him, so we sold him to Perth,” said former trainer, Cran Dalgety.
“We probably should have held on on to him a bit longer. He’s done better than we expected.”
Bettor’s Fire, after making his way quickly through the grades, was solid in both starts at the 2012 NZ Cup meeting.
He ran sixth both times in races won by superstar stablemate and subsequent Miracle Mile and Australasian Grand Circuit champ Christen Me (1:49.1, 42 wins & $2.7 million), and subsequent Inter Dominion Final and Hunter Cup champ Smolda 1:50.6, 32 wins, $2.4 million).
Bettor’s Fire added grade wins at Rangiora and Blenheim, before running fifth in Franco Ledger’s Invercargill Cup, and wound up his NZ racing with a fourth behind Jason Rulz and then stablemate Donegal Delight in an Ashburton mile in February, 2013, being race-timed in 1:54.9.
Bettor’s Fire relished being a front-runner in Perth, winning eight of his first 10 starts there from August until December 7 in 2013, including Group wins in a Navy Cup, Mount Eden Sprint, Village Kid Sprint and the Bunbury Cup.
In January 2014, he ran second to another NZ-bred in Washington VC gelding Im Victorious in the Group One Fremantle Cup, then added another five wins that year including another Bunbury Cup victory plus another Group win in the Parliamentarians Cup.
He added another 16 WA wins in 2015-18, including the 2017 Group Two Village Kid Pace.
Bettor’s Fire also had a crack at the 2016 Perth Inter Dominions, opening strongly by winning the opening heat, leading and holding eventual Final winner Smolda (parked) at Gloucester Park Heat over 2130m (1:54.7 rate).
He had to settle for sixth in Smolda’s $1.1 million Grand Final after failing to cross to the front from a wide front gate, then getting shuffled to the rear.
He left West Australia having taken his NZ and WA earnings to just over $A815,000 with 29 Australian wins, before heading Stateside.
This remarkable veteran his now a winner of 52 races from 129 starts in three countries. He prefers to win, having been 18 times second, and 13 times third.
Bettor’s Fire becomes latest millionaire pacer to be developed from humble beginnings at Kentuckiana Lodge.
After his strong USA year, his career earnings have risen to the equivalent of $NZ1,038,537.
His dam, the 2001 Australasian Breeders Crown 3YO Fillies champion, Sparks A Flyin (1:52, 21 win & $627,218), also previously trained by Cran Dalgety for former long-time stable owners, Jim and Susan Wakefield, died four years ago.
But her progeny continue to strengthen the family.
Bettor’s Fire has been joined in the USA by half-brother (My) Alpha Rock (1:49.5, Aust), the big seven-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding.
Alpha Rock, who had a similar strong start to his career at Kentuckiana Lodge, winning eight of 29 starts for $59,589. advanced his record with another nine wins in Australia for the Shane and Lauren Tritton stable, taking his earnings to $A240,614.
He won his first four straight at Menangle, and became a multiple Group Australian winner for the Trittons’, with Menangle wins in the Group 3 Australian Pacing MO in 1:50.6, Vic Frost Cup in 1:50.9, Club Menangle FFA and King Of Arthur FFA (1:50.3).
His last Menangle start was a luckless sixth after being left parked in Spankem’s 1:47.7 $1 million Miracle Mile on March 2, earning $40,000.
Alpha Rock has joined fellow ex-Kiwi and good Australian winner Celestial Arden (also by Rock N Roll Heaven) in the Ohio stable of Ned Hodkinson.
Celestial Arden, a now 7YO from Arden’s Darlin (Bettor’s Delight-Achieve A Dream), caused an upset on Little Brown Jug day at Delaware, Ohio, last weekend, outfinishing front-running former superstar free-for-aller, Wiggle It Jiggleit, in a $5250 pace, in 1:51.2, on the half-mile track.
Celestial Arden was above-average when trained in Canterbury by Grant Payne, winning five of 31 starts for $37,561.
He strengthened during his New South Wales racing, taking a 1:52.3 mark at Menangle with nine wins, including a Group Three win in the JD Watt Memorial last June.
Alpha Rock, meanwhile, has arrived in the USA the fastest to race from Sparks A Flyin, from six individual winners from six to race. It is the intention to prepare him to race on the mile Meadowlands track (the Big M ), which will suit, towards the end of the year.
The remaining winners from Sparks A Flyin have also reached double figure career wins, namely Diomedes (1:57.5, 12 wins & $87,994), Empyrean (1:56.2, 10 wins & $121,302), Safedra (1:56.3, 10 wins & $135,577) and former Victoria Derby Heat winner, Art Union (1:55.6, 17 wins & $210,120).
Safedra, runner-up to champion Adore Me in the 2013 NZ Oaks, and winner of the Group Two 2013 Southland Oaks, has left just two of racing age, the Group One-placed 3YO filly Buzinga (p3, 1:56.8, four wins, sold to Victoria late last term), and last season’s NZ race-placed 2YO filly Dr Susan.
Dr Susan, placed in four of her six 2YO starts, last raced when sixth to last season’s top filly Dream On Me in the ‘Terror To Love ‘Jewels winner $150,000 Harness Jewels 2YO Diamond at Addington on June 1.
She resumed with a Rangiora workouts win on Wednesday for the Cran Dalgety-Nathan Purdon stable.
Both fillies, by champion sire Bettor’s Delight, were bred by Chrissie Dalgety, before she sold Safedra to Southland breeders, Taffy Ltd.
Fellow Canterbury trainer Mark Jones purchased Safedra’s third foal, La Rosa (yearling sister to Buzinga and Dr Susan), the first bred by Taffy Ltd, for $100,000 at NZ Bloodstock’s National Standardbred Sale at Karaka in February.
The strong will to win shown by Bettor’s Fire in three countries, well into his 11-year-old season, should only be a precursor for other more things to come for this strong-winning family.