May 12, 2014
The Morphettville grandstand exploded on Saturday as a group of very excited and very proud owners cheered “Go Ana, Go Ana” from the top of the straight all the way to the finish line.
Their beloved Anna – also known as Miss Steele – recorded one of Saturday’s most remarkable victories, shooting clear with over 330m to go and maintaining an easy winning margin all the way to the line.
The Morphettville straight is a long, wide one and the previous few winners on Adelaide’s biggest race day had been hooking out and storming home down the middle of the track.
That however was never going to be an option for Miss Steele who had drawn barrier one. And so a plan was hatched with Michael Kent having walked the track, deciding that the rails for much of the race was not the place to be.
“It was pretty mushy around the back but better in the straight,” he said, admitting that Miss Steele’s inside draw had been “worrying me all day.”
Giving rather detailed instructions to jockey Dean Yendall, Kent wanted Miss Steele ridden as much as possible away from the rails – but for her to head back there at a certain point approaching the turn.
And Yendall rode the filly to perfection, settling her nicely back in the field before saving ground at the bend.
And it was from there, in Kent’s words, that Miss Steele “just went whoosh!”
Close to the finish Miss Steele started to shy a little at the finishing line’s advertising but “she was that far in front it didn’t matter!”
Saluting by 2¼ lengths, Miss Steele recorded the fourth win of her nine start career, one that has seen her amass over $330,000 in stakes.
Whilst already a triple city winner leading into Saturday’s event, this was her most important victory – the Group 3 status of the Proud Miss Stakes adding considerable value to Miss Steele as well as to her dam and her sisters.
A home-bred for her owners Dr Ralph Zito, Peta Zito, Joseph Cichello, Rhonda Cichello and John Button & Diane Button, Miss Steele is named after the main character from the infamous book Fifty Shades Of Grey.
An attractive grey daughter of Statue Of Liberty, she is the second foal and second winner for the lightly raced winner Shu’ Shu’ Lara who was also bred by the Zito family.
Doing a great job at stud, her first foal Ladretto last season earned the title of Townsville Horse Of The Year for his six straight victories at that track.
Revisiting Statue Of Liberty last spring, Shu’ Shu’ Lara has two unraced daughters – Miss Remington and Steele Princess by Savoire Vivre.
This is a family that has been good to the Zito’s whose first horse was Shu’ Shu’ Lara’s four times stakes winning half-brother Steel Phoenix.
Miss Steele’s Group 3 victory was a satisfying one on many levels – not only because her owners bred and love her but because she has overcome a recent set-back to find her best form.
Whilst the corn in her foot a few weeks ago was not a large one, it was awkwardly placed touching the laminae – the most sensitive part of the horse’s hoof.
“At one stage,” Michael Kent reported, “that foot was 10 degrees hotter than the other.”
Careful management has seen Miss Steele on the road to recovery and Kent is confident that the best is still to come for a filly he describes as “the fastest in my stable.”
“She is remarkable in that while she does not have a massive stride length her feet don’t touch the ground for long – she really flies over the ground.”
For her owners – who enjoyed visiting Miss Steele in her stable after the races before heading to a celebration at Glenelg’s Stamford Ground before a late flight home – their filly is their pride and joy.
And she always has been with Ralph Zito recalling that she has always been rather special.
“I remember our third visit to her as a foal. She was in a big pack and they all started charging towards us. She was at the rear and just went around them in a wide circle, getting to the front first and turning around to face them!”
Ralph was not the only one endeared to Miss Steele from the early days with Vern Poke – who transports horses from Tasmania to Victoria ringing Ralph not long after she arrived in Melbourne.
“I thought I must’ve forgotten a bill,” Ralph laughed, “but he just wanted to know the name of that filly – he said she was the classiest type he had ever shipped over.”
Peta Zito gave a good explanation as to how it feels to win a feature race with a home-bred…
“There are not many facets of life where you can enjoy an absolute thrill like this,” she said – “it is a flash of absolute brilliance!”
Photo by Vin Lowe