Gun sprinter Magnifisio claimed a career-best victory in the $125,000 Roma Cup (1200m) at Belmont Park, holding on late to score in a nail-biting finish.
Starting a hot $2.25 favourite, Magnifisio started quickly from the outside gate and worked across to sit outside of the leader, Settle Strada.
Jockey Jason Brown sent Magnifisio to the lead early in the straight as her rivals worked their way into the Group 3 feature.
And in a thrilling five-way finish, Magnifisio held on to beat the fast-finishing Elite Belle ($14) by a head.
Elite Belle was held up behind a wall of horses early in the straight but sprinted powerfully when obtaining a clear run.
A long neck separated the first five across the line, with Checkpoint ($12) third, Luckygray ($2.60) fourth and Ranger fifth.
Luckygray raced keenly when settling closer than expected in fourth position on the fence.
The triple Group 1 winner got in to the clear early in the straight. He looked like he wouldn’t sprint at one stage, but picked up late to finish close to the winner.
Luckygray was also involved in a bumping duel with Checkpoint late in the race. A subsequent protest from his jockey Shaun O’Donnell against Checkpoint was dismissed by stewards.
Kalahaar was also a big run first-up, finishing hard from 11th to finish sixth, beaten ¾ of a length.
The Roma Cup win was Magnifisio’s fifth victory in a row, confirming her status as a rising star of the WA sprinting ranks.
“It was a good effort by her coming from the outside barrier and doing all the donkey work,” trainer Jim Taylor said.
“Then you’ve got a good filly like Elite Belle coming late. It was a good effort to hold on.
“I was quietly confident but Luckygray’s a great horse.
“They probably had to ride him upside down from barrier one.”
Taylor fine-tuned his training of Magnifisio last summer, leading to the mare scoring dominant wins in the R S Crawford Stakes (1000m) and Summer Scorcher (1000m).
“She’s a little fat thing so you’ve got to work her hard,” Taylor said.
“She really cops it. We had her a lot fitter this time in.”
The Group 1 $500,000 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) is likely to be Magnifisio’s main aim next summer.
Taylor said Magnifisio is unlikely to start in the $125,000 Belmont Sprint (1400m), run in a fortnight.