Wild winner of AJC Oaks

Bargain filly Once Were Wild sent her value soaring when she trounced a quality field to more than three lengths in the Group 1 AJC Oaks (2400m) at Randwick on Saturday.  She treated the nation’s best staying fillies with contempt in a wonderful front-running display.

Once Were Wild (3f Johannesburg – Wildesong by Unbridled’s Song) is trained by Gai Waterhouse for a partnership that includes John Singleton’s Strawberry Hill Stud.  She was a $50,000 cheapie from the Kulani Park consignment at the 2008 Gold Coast Magic Millions yearling sale.  The Oaks sent her bank balance soaring to $332,150 from an 8: 6-0-0 career card.

Once Were Wild won her maiden at Newcastle in January and then built a picket fence with another victory at Broadmeadow followed by wins at Randwick and Canterbury (twice).  The run ended when she faded from view behind Faint Perfume in the G1 Vinery Stakes at Rosehill earlier this month.

“I’m delighted,” Waterhouse beamed.  “She’s a filly who’s in her first racing prep – so it’s not a bad effort, is it?  There’s not much of her but she’s got the heart of a lion.”

Waterhouse trained her dam Wildesong who was retired after an on-pace victory over 2400m at Randwick in January 2003.  She was raced by Milburn Creek Stud owner John Muir and so was her second dam Sycamore (Twig Moss).  The latter was a Canterbury winner for Gai’s father T J Smith in 1991.  Her sister Contwig was a G1 winner of the WA Oaks.

Winning rider Nash Rawiller said the stable had done a remarkable job with the lightly raced filly.  “We knew from the outset she was going to be an Oaks filly,” Rawiller commented.  “We probably out smarted ourselves in the Vinery Stakes last time when we tried to make it a staying test.”

Once Were Wild is by Coolmore sire Johannesburg who hasn’t shuttled to Australia since being whisked back to Kentucky in September 2007 to avoid E.I.  He was then re-routed to spend his southern springs at La Mission stallion in Argentina.

Johannesburg’s oldest Hunter Valley bred gallopers are five year-olds and he has sired 115 winners at a 56% winning strike-rate.  The six stakes winners among that total are Once Were Wild, who follows fellow G1 winner Turffontein (MRC Sir Rupert Clarke St & MVRC William Reid St), Cassandara Shadow (WA Oaks-G3), Dark Valley (MRC Debutants Stakes-LR), Jantzen (BRC Phelan Ready St-LR) and Welkom Gold (Maurice McCarten St-LR).