Sunlight winning from Santa Ana Lane and Zoutori (Image: Racing Photos)
Sunlight had the measure of Santa Ana Lane as two of Australia's best sprinters clashed in Saturday's $300,000 Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) at Flemington.
The Tony McEvoy-trained Sunlight, who last season won three Group 1 races including the Coolmore Stud Stakes and Newmarket Handicap down the Flemington straight, claimed another straight-track feature when leading throughout and fending off Santa Ana Lane by half a length.
Luke Currie dictated terms in the lead aboard Sunlight, ambling through the first 600 metres in 35.86 seconds before quickening home in 33.56s to win in an overall time of 1:09.42.
WATCH: Sunlight's Gilgai win
"He (Santa Ana Lane) is a true superstar and his return I thought was fabulous," McEvoy said.
"But for my mare to carry the weight that she did, against that champion, she just showed she's a force."
Currie believes Sunlight is on track for The Everest $14 million 1200-metre sprint at Randwick on October 19.
"She's on track to run a great race in The Everest," Currie said.
"She's having a good blow now and through her last few preps has improved with racing.
"She's got a two-week break into the big one and I think she's got improvement heading into the big one."
Mark Zahra lamented the slow early tempo but was complimentary about Santa Ana Lane's performance. He is a $5 equal favourite to win The Everest with Pierata.
"That's probably as good as we could have hoped for apart from winning," Zahra said.
"If you saw him in the yard he's really burly and he had a pre-sweat.
"The way the race was run, they were walking in front and I had to come out earlier than I wanted but he probably just peaked on his run.
"Going towards The Everest I couldn't be happier."
Meanwhile, the third-placed Zoutori ($8.50) finished within a length of Sunlight, much to the delight of his jockey Damian Lane.
"He went super to finish where he did considering the weight scale of the race," Lane said.