Progressive filly Playz With Fire has filled visiting trainer Rob Gulberti full of excitement after landing another impressive victory at Belmont yesterday.
The daughter of Playing God caught the attention of onlookers when rattling home from back in the field to break her maiden status at Pinjarra on December 12 before following up that effort with a commanding last-to-first victory by more than three lengths in yesterday’s TABtouch – Better Your Bet Handicap (1400m).
Speaking to TABradio’s The Sports Daily on Wednesday morning, Gulberti says the talented three-year-old has always shown him above-average ability.
“It was pretty exciting for everyone concerned to see her win with that authority yesterday, for sure,” he said.
“It was similar to her first win.
“We’ve had a little bit of an opinion of her for some time and we’ve been trying to be patient.
“She is quite lightly-framed as a lot of those fillies are and she’s definitely rewarding us for that.
“Hopefully there’s some upside in the next 12 or so months.”
Gulberti flagged the possibility of aiming Playz With Fire at feature races in the autumn, however, he says the filly will have a short break first after having two trials and three race starts in what is only her first race preparation.
“At this stage we’re looking at sending her to the paddock for a couple of weeks and then hopefully setting her up for a metropolitan three-year-old race,” Gulberti said.
“Depending on how she measures up there, without putting too much pressure on her, we may look at one of the stakes races prior to the Derby.
“We’re not targeting the Derby by any means, but some of those races leading up to it.
“We’ve just been mindful of her that she’s not one of those horses you want to give too much work to, that’s why we’ve been very patient.
“Once she finishes her racing in early autumn we’ll give her a really good break and hopefully she furnishes into the filly we think she can be and come back and be competitive in the carnival next year.”
Gulberti, who has lived in Broome for the past 20 years, has been a mainstay of the local racing industry during the winters before training from Adam Durrant’s Karnup establishment each summer.
Having trained the winners of two Broome Cups and two Darwin Cups within the past six years, he has signalled his intent to move to Perth to expand his metropolitan stable in the future.
“At this stage it’s business as usual fitting in with Adam and Jason Miller’s system,” Gulberti said.
“That’s the way it’s been for the last eight years.
“In the past we’ve had a couple of metropolitan runners and then we head back to Broome each year.
“That will happen again this year, we’ve got a number of babies that will head to the system prior to going to Broome and going out for the winter.
“We’re sort of looking for something, but at this stage we’re just going through the motions and doing what we’ve done in the past.”
Asked if he plans to have the same training numbers at Broome next year, Gulberti says he’ll be reducing his north-west team size.
“We’re hoping to wind it down a little bit,” he said.
“We’re looking at taking 10 horses but two of those will be for the Darwin carnival, fingers crossed.
“Something that may be going well at the time will go with him, but the main one going would be Living The Dream for the Darwin Cup if everything goes right.”
Living The Dream, an Artie Schiller eight-year-old who won both the Listed Coolgardie Cup and Listed Kalgoorlie Cup in a brilliant run of form through the spring, was purchased by Gulberti for $50,000 in an online auction last month.
He hopes the $417,401-earner can emulate the feats of his former back-to-back Darwin Cup winner, Ihtsahymn.
“He’s just been eating grass,” Gulberti said.
“He was a bull and we had him cut pretty quickly.
“We thought that he needed to lighten a little to handle running on top of the ground up north and that was a decision we made pretty quickly when we purchased him.
“We thought he was the right type of horse at the right price, and Reg Webb being an old Darwin boy at heart, he was the instigator of it all.
“Everybody has jumped on board very quickly and they’re looking forward to it so hopefully he gets there.”
Meanwhile, Gulberti will saddle-up two runners at Pinjarra today – Café Nera and Sweet Ambition – both of whom he feels have winning claims.
“Café Nera was a bit unlucky to draw wide third-up in that 1800 and she got nabbed on the line in the last stride,” he said.
“Three weeks apart might be a question with the 2000, but you’d like to think today is the day.
“Sweet Admiration is probably the one that has come on the most since they raced last a couple of weeks ago.
“We also have a little opinion of her, so hopefully she can get some more luck than she got last start and go close to winning.
“There’s a pretty good form line around her last start, so fingers crossed she can continue that on.”