Speedy North Island visitor Illicit Dreams proved too fleet of foot for her two-year-old rivals when she took out the Listed Berkley Stud Champagne Stakes (1200m) at Riccarton.
The Ken Rae and Krystal Williams-trained daughter of Vancouver had two of her first three starts at Riccarton back in the spring before going for a summer break after finishing beyond midfield in the Listed Welcome Stakes (1000m) during the Christchurch Cup Week carnival.
Illicit Dreams resumed with a strong effort to win over 1300m on her home track at Ruakaka last month before being taken south again for Saturday’s black-type feature.
Handled superbly by the in-form Tegan Newman, Illicit Dreams got away quickly from an inside barrier (2) to dispute the pace before kicking two lengths clear at the top of the long Riccarton home straight.
Despite being chased hard in the final stages by favourites Penvose Lad and Cu Chulainn, the filly had enough in reserve to hold on for the victory by just on half a length at the winning post.
Ken Rae was thrilled with the result although he was doing it hard on course as he hobbled around with his leg in a cast after breaking it just over a month ago.
“I made the trip down here today, broken leg and all, so to get a result like this is very special,” Rae said.
“I was shoeing a horse about a month ago and managed to break my lower tibia, so I’ve got the cast on and have had to work out how to get around.
“This filly has always shown us some ability but I made a mistake early on with her, which could have cost us, as I travelled her down here after she ran second on debut at Wanganui and it may have been a little too much for her.
“We took her home and put her away and when we brought her back last month, we put the blinkers on and boy, did they do the job.
“She blew them away at home and then she has done the same today.
“That trip down here did have some benefit as she thinks this is her home away from home and she loved it out there and performed accordingly.”
Rae is adamant he won’t overdo it with the filly who will now head home to Ruakaka before being prepared for races at her home patch over the winter.
“She can go home and have a few days off after this one,” he said.
“There is a nice series of races coming up at Ruakaka over the winter so we can pick and choose our targets.
“I think she is going to be even better as a three-year-old so there is no need to get carried away now.”
Illicit Dreams was a $20,000 purchase by Rae out of breeder Gerry Harvey’s Westbury Stud draft during the Book 2 National Yearling Sale at Karaka in 2022.
Out of the Snitzel mare Illicit Romance, she hails from a family that includes Group One winners Bonanova, Telesto and Fraternity.