Special Ops’ mission accomplished
Jason Ong-trained Australian-bred breaks through at sixth Kranji start with four-length victory
With three consecutive seconds and a last-start third from just five starts, the horse showed he was deserving of shedding his maiden status.
That horse - Special Ops - finally accomplished what he was out to do on Saturday.
The Jason Ong-trained four-year-old Australian-bred not only won, but also spreadeagled his Restricted Maiden rivals over 1,600m on the Short Course C.
Ridden by champion jockey Vlad Duric, the Special Ops Stable-owned bay gelding made it a one-horse affair by romping home with four lengths to spare from the Cliff Brown-trained and A'Isisuhairi Kasim-ridden Alexander Horatio.
Third, half a length away, was the Steven Burridge-trained Tiger Leap, who had champion apprentice jockey Simon Kok aboard.
The winning time was 1min 36.33sec, just outside the standard of 1min 36.22sec.
"He has been showing ability since his debut. He's a straightforward horse, he's been running well, but it's just the way the races panned out," said Ong.
"Hopefully, we can see more of him after that first win. It was great that the Singapore Turf Club has come up with such a race for four-year-olds, as there were no racing opportunities for Restricted Maidens."
The Singaporean trainer said he gave Duric carte blanche as far as tactics went.
He was supremely confident his charge, who carries the same purple-and-orange stars silks as his former champion War Affair, would shed his maiden tag.
"I left it to Vlad as how to ride him as he knows him well. It was the race for him to win today, the mile," said Ong.
Duric, who steered Special Ops to a short-head second in a Restricted Maiden race over 1,400m two starts back on Oct 31 - their only previous association - was glad to go one better.
He jumped his mount out well and held on when Alexander Horatio came up to eyeball him. They were followed by Bethlehem and Ksatria.
Special Ops then popped slightly ahead and progressed to about a length clear, but still under a good hold.
Once shaken up turning for home, he lengthened and it was all over bar the shouting. It could have been more dominant had Duric not lifted the foot off the pedal inside the last 50m, after knowing the race was all stitched up.
"I kept it simple today, as he was stepping up to the mile," said the Australian. "I was rushing the other day. He was on a more suitable trip today. He's a genuine little horse and he deserved the win."
Special Ops has won about $90,000 for his connections.