Potential superstar Rejuvenate is set to complete his build-up to the ‘Unmissable’ Australian Cup Carnival by claiming his second feature trophy in Friday night’s $29,920 Listed Western Districts Derby Final (450m) at Ballarat.
After a barnstorming near-record heat victory, Rejuvenate, brilliant winner of 12 of his 15 starts, is Sportsbet’s $1.80 favourite for the $20,000 to-the-winner Derby – race 8 at 9.31pm.
Last November, Rejuvenate gave young Burramine (near Yarrawonga) owner/trainer Paul Brown, 40, his first Group trophy when winning the G3 Northern Districts Cup (450m) at Shepparton.
The boom November ’20 son of dual G1 winner Hooked On Scotch, bred by Brown’s parents Ian and Maureen, then headed to The Meadows for the G1 Silver Chief, where he was a scintillating 29.47sec heat winner, before running fifth to superstar Amron Boy in the final.
Rejuvenate was then sidelined for six weeks with a minor injury, but he’s taken up where he left off in two appearances since resuming.
First-up, Rejuvenate missed Shepparton ‘s 385m track record by less than a length (21.25sec), followed by a sensational come-from-behind victory in his Derby heat last Saturday night.
Rejuvenate ($1.30) began fairly and settled third, before storming over the top of leader Blue Tungsten ($4.90), which had broken Shepparton’s 385m record two starts earlier, scoring by 1.17 lengths in 24.80sec.
Rejuvenate is two from two at Ballarat, with his time less than two lengths outside Silver Lake’s 24.686sec record.
The merit in his performance was underlined with minor placegetters, Blue Tungsten (24.88sec) and Always A Thrill (24.93sec), producing the second and third quickest times from the four heats.
WATCH: REJUVENATE (B2) won his heat of the Western Districts Derby at Ballarat in stunning fashion, flashing home to run down BLUE TUNGSTEN (B6) in a near-record 24.80sec.
“He did have a little bit of a niggling problem after the Silver Chief, so he had six weeks off,” Brown explained.
“I saw the Derby was coming up, but I was a bit worried I wasn’t going to have him ready in time.
“I pushed him up to the 450m, but he’s a naturally strong dog anyway, which helps.
“After a couple of hand-slips and a trial at Shepp, I brought him back in a 385m at Shepparton and his run-home and overall time were really good, so we went to the Derby.
“I knew he probably wasn’t going to lead his heat – Blue Tungsten has been going really well – but I thought if he camped off them, he’d be a big chance.
“Watching his run, you’d say it was a good win, but when you look at the time and to run down a dog running those times in front is a big effort.”
The second fastest winning heat time came from Mr. Beets, trained by Gary Peach, which boosted his similarly imposing record to nine from 12 when clocking 24.98sec at his Ballarat debut.
The superbly-related son of Bernardo is taking aim at his second successive Derby title, after winning the Warrnambool Derby on January 19.
Ashlee Terry’s Warrnambool Derby runner-up Incineration started $1.20 favourite in the opening heat but totally blew the start when runner-up to Ike Bale, trained by Correy Grenfell, in 25.43sec.
The remaining heat went to Jess Hopkins’ South Australian import Bobby Axelrod, which was an impressive 25.04sec winner at his first Victorian assignment, his 17th win from 29 appearances.
Rejuvenate has remarkably drawn box two for the fourth start in succession in Friday’s Derby, from where he’s won six of seven career starts, with the defeat coming in the Silver Chief Final.
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“It’s not going to be an easy race to win,” Brown cautioned.
“All the pace is on his outside again, with Blue Tungsten (box 8) and Mr. Beets (box 6), which ran 6.35sec and 10.98sec last week, so they’re going to be the dogs to catch. Hopefully he can do it again!”
Last year’s Western Districts Derby was won by Paddy Wants Pats, which went on to finish runner-up in the G1 Australian Cup Final weeks later.
Rejuvenate will follow the same path, although Brown opted against nominating for the G1 Temlee invitational on the opening night of the Cup Carnival, next Saturday night (February 11).
Friday night’s Ballarat meeting also features the $14,960 Lil Dickie Oaks Final (450m) – race 6 at 8.49pm – where Bob Douglas’ recent G1 National Futurity runner-up Baby Jaycee (box 3) looks to be the testing material.