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Speranza slides under the Derby radar for Baker

Race-9-Speranza-DSC-2900-jpg.JPGBy Isaac Murphy

There was nothing spectacular about the start to Speranza’s racing career, after the son of Fernando Bale struggled to make an impression at his then home track at Grafton.

A move to Brian Baker’s Morayfield kennel was just the change he needed and after plenty of hard work and perseverance, he strikes this Thursday’s Queensland Derby heats in career-best form and ready to make a name for himself.

“He was getting attention for all the wrong reasons where he was running really good time and just not winning, I was never too bothered by it because I knew his ability, but he’s now probably not getting the attention he deserves winning five of his last 10,” Baker said.

“He’s taken to Albion Park like a duck to water; he loves it to bits, even when he was getting beaten he was going sub 30 every time around and to see him breakthrough running 29.69 amongst his other wins has been very rewarding.

“We always knew the talent was there, I said to his owner Darren Scells once he knocks one over the dam wall will break and it’s worked out that way.”

After six runner-up performances, Speranza broke the wall and after running 29.69 a couple of runs later, Baker’s belief was vindicated.

“Would we have liked to have knocked off his Novice first go? Sure, but I always watched his replays and times and he just wasn’t getting any luck and still running time,” Baker said.

“It’s a bit like box draws, they come in waves - I never doubted him.

“He got his tail up after that first Albion Park win and was able to put a few together, then ran well in some really good races - including a third in the Ipswich Cup heats - but for me his last two wins have been on another level.

“He’s had a tough run with box draws; eight in the Ipswich Cup Heats, eight again at Albion Park and seven last week, however he’s finding ways to overcome obstacles and the timing of the Derby couldn’t be better.”

At just 27 months Speranza’s potential is mouth-watering, and Baker thinks with a bit more work he can become a complete 500-metre dog.

“Like most dogs, he’s best when he’s left alone early and while his box manners have never been bad, he’s only started to get into clear air lately,” he said.

“The sections he runs down the back and home are almost unmatched; he gave Tribal Magic four lengths last week and ran it down.

“His start is something we’ve just got to keep working on, stepping up against Derby dogs he probably can’t afford to be giving them that kind of rope if he’s a winning chance.

“We left him inside for the stir-up last week as he can go a bit mad before he races; he didn’t waste any energy, so that might be something we do going forward.”

Races

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Albion Park | Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club | 9:02 PM

FABREGAS @ METICULOUS LODGE

Baker and his wife Cathy relocated from Dubbo to Tweed Heads in 2000 and made the move to Morayfield with dreams of having a dog like Speranza, who’s a Group ready at the right time of the year.

“It’s a big thrill as a trainer to have him humming right on the verge of the Summer Carnival, you don’t want to look too far ahead but hopefully if he comes through the Derby well, he’ll be ready for races like the Golden Ticket and Gold Bullion,” he said.

“Albion Park is where the big races are run and won and we’ve been really fortunate that he’s come up from Grafton and handled the place like he’s been there his whole life.

“It’s a long carnival with plenty of races and he’ll probably need a rest at some stage; but as I touched on earlier, his middle section and run home are exceptional and I think in time he’ll get the 600 as well.”

Baker acknowledges the depth he’ll face in Thursday’s heats, but Speranza’s tough preparation could be a difference maker.

“There are a handful a gun young pups in Queensland that have been racing in just as good form as us the last couple of months, but I think we might get a little bit of an advantage having raced in tougher company - he won’t be scared by any reputations,” he said.

“We’re happy to fly under the radar, we’re confident that we can’t have him any better - every trainer would want a dog like him in their kennel.

“If things go our way, by the end of the summer maybe he’ll be the one being talked about.”