Free Of Debt winning at Flemington (Image: Racing Photos)
Two unbeaten two-year-old colts fought out the finish in Saturday's $125,000 VRC Member Duane Rogers Plate (1200m) at Flemington, with the well-supported Free Of Debt beating odds-on favourite Viking Warrior.
The Chris Bieg-trained Free Of Debt, who firmed from $10 into $8 from race day morning, led throughout under Jake Toeroek, providing the 24-year-old jockey with his first Melbourne win.
Free Of Debt showed great acceleration to open up a winning break 250 metres from the finish but was wayward over the final 100m, with the son of Unencumbered having a length to spare from Viking Warrior ($1.70 favourite) at the finish.
"When he kicked clear 200 metres out he started to wander by himself and didn't know where he was - I got a bit worried for a few strides there," Toeroek said.
"I just think going up the straight by himself the first time, he didn't know what to do.
"He's a horse with a lot of ability but just doesn't know how to use it yet."
Bieg was hoarse post-race but conveyed his intention to aim Free Of Debt towards the $1.5 million Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 23.
Free Of Debt isn't nominated for the Blue Diamond but Bieg intends to pay the $55,000 late entry fee.
"The Hayes horse there (Viking Warrior) is a very promising horse and if he's $26 in betting for the Blue Diamond why can't we be?," Bieg added.
Free Of Debt was purchased for $30,000 from last year's Magic Millions Adelaide yearling sale.
"We don't have big budgets when we go to the sales," Bieg said. "He's worth a hell of a lot more now."
Mark Zahra offered no excuses for the defeat of Hayes, Hayes and Dabernig-prepared Viking Warrior, crediting Free of Debt as simply being 'too fast'.
Lindsay Park have had four horses start favourite in two-year-old city races this season, three of them down the Flemington straight, and all have been beaten.