Zoutori winning in a blanket finish at Flemington (Image: Racing Photos)
Zoutori defended his title in a thrilling $200,000 Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday but may leave sprinting ranks and be prepared as a miler later this spring.
Ridden by Mark Zahra, Zoutori ($4.60 equal favourite) defeated Banquo ($6) by half a neck, with Tofane ($5) a further nose away in third. The Inevitable ($6.50) and Dollar For Dollar ($15) rounded out the top five, finishing within half a length of the winner.
Bold Star ($4.60 equal favourite) was sixth in the nine-horse field and totally unsuited by the sit-sprint tempo after settling in the second half of the pack, with his race-fastest final 200m of 10.92 seconds placing him 1.5 lengths adrift of the winner.
His two Bobbie Lewis wins remain his only black-type victories, although he also had top-four finishes in the G2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m), G2 TAB Stakes (1200m) G1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) and G1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) last season.
But he may not attempt those feature sprints again later this season as Mathew Ellerton, who trains Zoutori in partnership with Simon Zahra, indicated the five-year-old gelding by Zoustar may race over further after displaying his brilliance down Flemington's straight six-furlong course once again, winning the Bobbie Lewis in an overall time of 1:09.24 with his final 400m in 21.9s.
"He's not a great worker now as he was," Ellerton said. "We might stretch him out a bit this prep, too. We'll go up in trip from here on in. Maybe the Cantala Stakes here, he's at that stage of his life where we can experiment a little bit."
Mark Zahra picked up the ride, with Ellerton and Zahra's stable riders Jamie Kah and Damian Lane serving suspensions.
"It just worked out nicely, it was perfect for the straight, I had the slipstream all the way. I got the room late and the horse did the rest," Zahra said.
Michael Moroney offered no excuses for Everest aspirant Tofane but revealed rider Damien Oliver pondered whether the sit-sprint tempo of the race disadvantaged his mare as the final 600m was covered in 32.77s.
"They really ran home the last 600 (metres) very, very fast," Moroney said. "He just wondered if it was a bit more truly run throughout that he might've gone a bit better."