Waikato Stud homebred I Wish I Win had already earned himself a place in New Zealand thoroughbred folklore with his A$10 million Golden Eagle (1500m) heroics in the spring, but a stunning Group One triumph at Randwick on Saturday did even more to underline his superstar quality.
The A$3 million TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) brought together an extraordinary line-up of sprinting talent, with I Wish I Win coming up against three-time defending champion Nature Strip, The Everest (1200m) hero Giga Kick, last-start Gr.2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) victor Passive Aggressive, and Group One winners such as Mazu, In Secret, Mariamia and Private Eye.
It would take something special to come from behind and defeat such a star-studded line-up, but I Wish I Win was well and truly up to the task.
Ridden by Luke Nolen, the four-year-old son of Savabeel was slow to leave the starting gate and dropped out to be a clear last for most of the race.
But then Nolen unleashed him down the outside of the Randwick straight, and I Wish I Win roared past a dozen rivals with ease.
Just as Mazu and Giga Kick were moving up alongside and gradually getting the better of a gallant Nature Strip, I Wish I Win streaked past them and scored by half a length.
The stunning win prompted Nolen to compare I Wish I Win to the previous TJ Smith Stakes winner he had ridden for trainer Peter Moody – legendary mare Black Caviar.
“He’s pretty bloody impressive,” Nolen said. “He’s an amazing horse. He didn’t particularly travel well today actually, I was a bit worried. But when we topped the rise, he lengthened stride and gave me a good feel.
“He’s an exceptional horse. He’s got similar traits to the last one (Black Caviar). Very happy to be a part of it.
“We were here on trial for The Everest in the spring, so I reckon they’ll be lining up to get him a slot. He’s a beautiful animal, and because they’ve given him a lot of time early, we’re going to be able to see this horse race on for many years to come, hopefully. I’m glad he ended in Moody’s care so I get the opportunity to ride him.”
I Wish I Win began his career in the Matamata stable of Jamie Richards, for whom he won two of his nine starts, along with Group One placings behind On The Bubbles in the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) and behind Imperatriz and On The Bubbles in the Levin Classic (1600m).
Since moving across the Tasman in the spring to be trained by his part-owner Peter Moody, I Wish I Win has had seven starts for four wins, including the Golden Eagle and TJ Smith, plus placings in the Gr.1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) and Newmarket Handicap (1200m).
"That was special," said Moody, who reported that Waikato Stud principal Mark Chittick and his family were watching the race from a deer-hunting trip in a remote area of the South Island. “Third run in, the horse has probably peaked today.
“I lay down at 10.30 this morning, the track was a Good4 and I was a happy man. I got up at 12.45, it was a Heavy8 and I didn’t want to come to the races – he quickens so much better on dry ground.
“Luke used the rest of the field for as long as he could. You could always see him coming. I’m very proud of him, he’s a bloody good horse.”
Overall, I Wish I Win has now had 16 starts for six wins, eight placings and more than A$7.7 million in prize-money. He became the 29th individual Group One winner for Waikato Stud’s champion stallion Savabeel.
I Wish I Win is out of the Pins mare Make A Wish, whose five winners from seven foals to race also include the well-performed Another Dollar. That daughter of Ocean Park won five races including the Gr.3 Premier’s Cup (2200m) and Listed Gosford Gold Cup (2000m), while her seven black-type placings included a second in the Gr.1 Queensland Oaks (2200m).
Make A Wish had two further foals after I Wish I Win. A colt by Ocean Park was born in 2021 and was bought by Moody Racing for $375,000 at Karaka earlier this year, while a filly by Super Seth followed in the spring of 2022.