CANBERRA trainer Keith Dryden made another entry into Albury Cup carnival folklore when he completed back-to-back victories in the $50,000 City Handicap (1400m) yesterday with Vilakazi Street.
The six-year-old gelding had not won a race since winning the City Handicap last year, but Vilakazi Street became only the second horse in the race’s history to win in successive years.
The last horse to achieve the feat was Hello Carlo in 1981-82.
The $4.40 favourite was ridden to his second win in the race by Kevin Sweeney with the same trainer-jockey combination of Don Maples and Steve Sharman also guiding Hello Carlo to successive victories more than three decades ago.
Dryden has a perfect strike-rate in the race with Tehuacan winning in race record-equalling time in 1996 and Coolroom Candidate saluting a decade later.
He is also the most successful trainer in the race’s 36-year history.
Dryden said Vilakazi Street paid the price for his win last year.
“They hammered him with the weight as he got up to an 86 rated horse,” Dryden said.
“He was carrying 59 kilograms in town and just couldn’t handle it.
“He is back here today with the same weight as last year and here we are.
“It has taken us 12 months to win another race with him.
“But if you can win one $50,000 race every 12 months it is something.”
Dryden was encouraged by the gelding’s first-up start this preparation in the Camarena Handicap on Black Opal day.
But the rain-affected track tempered his optimism.
“He is not a wet tracker,” he said.
“But he is a good horse and I think class got him through today.
“I didn’t need to give Kevin a lot of instructions.
“I just said ‘try and get covered up and ride the right race’.”
Vilakazi Street will head towards the Wagga Town Plate next month after scoring by a head from Lexical Ambiguity.
Another Canberra galloper Onthelookout was three-quarters of a length away third after finishing second the previous two years.
Wodonga-trained galloper Minnesota Hussle led with less than 200 metres to go before being swamped by Vilakazi Street who came down the preferred going in the middle of the track.