Rio miles too good at Belmont

After a couple of false starts, Shades Of Rio is starting to fulfil the potential he promised at the last Ascot summer carnival.

Shades Of Rio (3g Oratorio – Born To Be Rich by Zedrich) came good with a vengeance in the Westspeed Hcp (1650m) at Belmont on Wednesday.  Allowed to switch off by Willie Pike, he worked into the race at the furlong and swept past the leaders to win running away by more than a length

The Oratorio (Aus) gelding had flown home for an eye-catching second in the G3 Lee-Steere Classic (1400m) in December but had been unplaced twice since returning for a winter campaign.

“That summer prep was pretty exciting so I was a little bit disappointed with those first couple of runs back from a spell,” Morton admitted.  “But Pikey summer it up.  He said not to panic – the horse just needed more ground.

“I like him a lot.  The Oratorio horses don’t traditionally get out this far but a mile is as short as he likes it.”

Shades Of Rio is a homebred for Rob and Jan Higgins.  They bought his dam Born To Be Rich from Korilya Stud’s Ellie Giles – she is a half-sister to LR Placid Ark Stakes winner Risky Rancher.

The Great Southern couple also have the winner’s unraced half-brother Marjesden (Danehill Express) with Morton and a half-sister by Danehill Express foaled last September.

Oratorio sired another three year-old winner on Thursday when speedy filly Fortune Favours scored on debut at Northam.  She is trained by Brad Graham and is from a half-sister to Jugahtrice (Jugah) who won 15 races including the LR Barton Stakes at Caulfield and Bairnsdale Cup

Jugahtrice was owned and trained by Mark Bairstow and finished his career with wins at Ascot, Belmont and Pinjarra.

Oratorio will stand for a $16,500 (inc gst) service fee at Mungrup Stud this year.