A three-time stakes placegetter over the last eight months, Not Guilty (NZ) (Not A Single Doubt) took the next step with a brilliant black-type breakthrough in Saturday’s Listed Donaldson Brown Pegasus Stakes (1000m) at Riccarton.
The Tony Pike-trained mare had made her stakes debut in the Listed Lightning Handicap (1200m) at Trentham in March, where she ran third and only half a length behind Maria Farina and Shamus. Not Guilty added a close second placing in the Listed Power Turf Sprint (1200m) at Hastings in April to sign off her four-year-old season, then made another visit to Hawke’s Bay this spring and was runner-up behind Our Alley Cat in last month’s Gr.3 Spring Sprint (1400m).
On Saturday it was fourth time lucky in black-type company for Not Guilty, who dropped back to 1000m and packed too much power for a talented sprinting field.
One of the quickest to leave the starting gates, Not Guilty was driven forward by jockey Lily Sutherland and took up a position on the outside of the front-running Third Decree.
Sutherland went to work at the top of the straight and Not Guilty reciprocated, pinning her ears back and surging to the front.
Last year’s Pegasus winner Lincoln’s Kruz chased hard through the final 200m, accompanied by The Radiant One and Imwonderfultonight, but Not Guilty kept kicking and held them all out by a half-neck.
The time was 55.66 seconds – the second-fastest Pegasus in the last 14 years, beaten only by Sensei’s 55.00 in 2019.
It was Sutherland’s fourth Listed win, having previously captured the Tauranga Classic (1400m) aboard Flower Of Wanaka and the Castletown Stakes (1200m) and Wanganui Guineas (1200m) with Chantilly Lace. This was her first-ever winning ride for Pike.
“That’s an incredible thrill,” Sutherland said. “You’re only as good as the horses you sit on, so I really appreciate opportunities like this. I’m very grateful that he (Pike) and the connections have put me on this lovely little mare.
“Coming back from that 1400m race last start, I thought she’d be quite well suited today. We wanted to go forward and be as close to the rail as we could get, then not push the button until the straight. She was very tough.”
Saturday’s win was particularly satisfying for Pike, whose family’s VTW Breeding Company bred and owns the mare in partnership with Frontier Bloodstock.
Not Guilty is by Not A Single Doubt out of the O’Reilly mare Notice Received, which makes her a half-sister to the multiple Australian Group Two winner and Group One-placed Subpoenaed.
From 15 starts, Not Guilty has recorded five wins and six placings, earning more than $208,000 in prize-money.
“Lily has ridden her really well today,” Pike said. “It’s great for her. She’s a really good up-and-coming jockey, and it was nice to give her a good win today.
“This mare has been really competitive in good sprint races late last season and in the early part of this spring. I suppose the query was dropping back from 1400m to 1000m today, but she’s a very game mare and she kept finding and won nicely. I think she’ll be better again in the Stewards’ (Gr.3, 1200m) next Saturday.”