Angela Langton rates Keep It Black ahead of litter brother Keep It Blue as her best chance in Saturday night’s Group 3 Warragul St Leger final (460m) but concedes both have their work cut out in the star-studded field.
At $21 and $31 respectively, Keep It Black (Box 4) and Keep It Blue (Box 1) are among the outsiders in TAB’s market on the $25,000 to-the-winner St Leger, which is dominated by $2.30 favourite Koblenz and dual G1 winner Qwara Bale and fastest heat winner Aston Fastnet, both at $4.60.
Keep It Black (10 from 28) and Keep It Blue (7 from 31), well-bred sons of Fernando Bale and Art Noveau, are both making their first appearance at Group level and it promises to be a baptism of fire.
The consistent and underrated Keep It Black has been flying under the radar, proving extremely competitive in elite company.
In June, he qualified for the final of the Pink Diamond Rookie Sprinter series, won by Koblenz, while he then ran second in a heat of the G1 Maturity Classic to eventual winner Qwara Bale.
Koblenz also proved to be Keep It Black’s nemesis in the St Leger heats but he finished a gallant second, running the flying frontrunner to a 1.34 length margin in 25.65sec.
“It’s a very tough race with some very fast dogs and they’re fast early dogs too,” Langton said.
“I would have preferred my two to draw the other way around and have Keep It Black coming out of box one.
“Keep It Black is definitely the better dog of the two and box one is better than box four!
“Keep It Black is going super. He’s been running well in FFAs and he’s got the experience.
“His heat run was really good. He’s pretty strong and if the race had been over ‘500’ he might have beaten Koblenz because he’s better the further he goes. Koblenz is such a super sprinter and it’s very hard to run him down.
“Keep It Black is always a chance because he always gives his best and Keep It Blue might stay out of trouble from box one. In a field with all those speed dogs there’s always the chance they can mix each other up.”
Keep It Black and Keep It Blue are another breeding success story for Langton and her mother Sue Smith in their ‘Champagne’ syndicate.
WATCH: Keep It Black (4) finishes strongly to run second to G3 Warragul St Leger favourite Koblenz (6) in last Friday night’s heats.
“We bought their mother, Art Noveau, as a three-month old pup,” Langton explained.
“She was a daughter of Zelemar Fever, which won the G1 Temlee at The Meadows, and Art Noveau won a 600m Group race over in Perth. It’s a really nice litter and they’re still only young.”
While Langton would ‘ve preferred a better draw for Keep It Black at Warragul, it’s a similar story at The Meadows on Saturday, where she and partner Jeff Britton have a classy string of six engaged in the Victorian National Sprint Championship heats (525m).
In the opening heat, they have four-time G1 finalist Tyler Durden (4) and Weblec Blazer (8), Mepunga Knight (4) and multiple Group finalists Do It (5) and Jepara (7) will contest heat two, while in the final run-off recent G1 Maturity placegetter Mr. Fix It (8) will represent the potent Anakie kennel.
“Unfortunately they all haven’t drawn very well, drawing from four out,” Langton said.
“It would’ve been nice to be a bit closer to the fence so they’ll have to begin well to get across.
“But they can all run the time and most of them have early speed and like The Meadows.
“It’s a bit of a shame the National Grand Finals had to be cancelled, especially when they were going to be run in Victoria.”
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