Villa Verde responds to Challenge

Melbourne breeder Todd Lichti landed his most important race when Villa Verde swamped a top-class field of sprinters in the G2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) at Randwick on Saturday.

Villa Verde (3f Not A Single Doubt – Young and Free by Kenmare) is from the first group of yearlings that Todd offered at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale.  She made $95,000 to the bid of trainer Shaun Dwyer at Oaklands Junction in 2012.

The grey filly was a Listed winner at Caulfield and Flemington as a spring two year-old for owners Mike Buys and Rob Willis before Dwyer recommended she would be better suited in Sydney with Anthony Cummings.

“Shaun had given her a great grounding and she’s been working so well,” Cummings said.  “We came here expecting to win.”

Lichti paid $10,500 for Young and Free at the Inglis Australian Broodmare Sale in June 2010.  “She was 16 at the time but in foal to Not A Single Doubt and I thought he was a young sire on the up,” Lichti recalled.  “She was a well put together mare and good value at the money.”

Young and Free has a 2yo colt named Free On Saturday (Any Given Saturday) and she foaled a filly by Dylan Thomas in October.

Lichti was born in California and was lured to the races when playing basketball for the Perth Wildcats in the 1990s.  That interest was sparked again after he retired from the pro ranks and settled in Melbourne.

Villa Verde will run in G1 The Galaxy at Rosehill before taking aim at the G1 T J Smith Stakes at Randwick on April 12.