Enzo's Lad (Chris Johnson) holds Don Carlo and Signify at bay in the Pegasus Stakes.
The Pitman stable boasts an outstanding record in the New Zealand Cup carnival’s feature sprints at their home track of Riccarton, and the father-and-son partnership of Michael and Matthew struck again this afternoon with Enzo’s Lad in the Listed Yesberg Insurance Pegasus Stakes.
There have been four Pitman-trained Gr. 3 Stewards’ Stakes winners since 2009, with Coup Align and El Chico winning the race twice each, and today Enzo’s Lad followed Coup Align and So Elusive to become the stable’s third Pegasus winner in the same timeframe.
The third winner from the first five races on today’s programme for reigning champion jockey Chris Johnson, Enzo’s Lad raced in sixth place in the 1000-metre dash before piercing through a gap in centre-track to make his bid.
Don Carlo and the Group One-winning topweight Signify came at him with big late runs down the outside, but Enzo’s Lad held on to score by a length and a quarter in a quick time of 56.28 seconds.
“I really like this horse,” Johnson said. “He’s only lightly raced and seems to be getting better with age.”
It was a first stakes win for Enzo’s Lad, who has now had 18 starts for four wins, seven placings and more than $84,000 in prize-money. The Pitmans bought him for just A$15,000 at a 2014 Magic Millions sale in Australia.
“We made a plan back in the autumn to set him for this race,” Matthew Pitman said. “We’ve always had a big opinion of him. He started to run some very nice races in the autumn just as the tracks started to get wet. We always thought he’d be a nice horse in the spring, and he’s come up beautifully in this preparation.
“He’s won a stakes race now and we think he could grow into a very nice sprinter.”
The connections of third-placed Signify lodged a protest against the runner-up Don Carlo over interference as the pair made their runs together down the outside of the track, but the protest was dismissed.