Zafina out to clinch Magic Millions 2016 berth

Gary Portelli buys thorougbred yearlings others aren’t interested in the hope he can turn a profit sooner rather than later.

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It’s a business model that has served his stable well and it will be put to the test once more with speedy two-year-old Zafina at Randwick on Saturday.

Numbers are small in the Pierro Plate, a $150,000 race added to the Australian Turf Club calendar, and while Portelli is disappointed as a racing enthusiast, he’s not complaining as a trainer.

“It’s not often we get these races worth good prize money at this time of the year and it’s a real shame no one had any horses for it,” Portelli said.

“The bigger stables obviously have too many older horses in work to give the babies a chance to get to the track early.”

It’s exactly the scenario Portelli trains for in the first part of the season.

“We buy the precocious types and often they’re not the ones everyone’s after because they haven’t got the big pedigrees,” he said.

“We give them their chance to come through our system. At this time of the year if they do everything right and just have some ability, they’ll pick up prize money.”

There will be more at stake for Zafina at Randwick than the chance to recoup her $65,000 purchase price and Portelli is hoping the race can provide a saloon passage into the Magic Millons 2YO Classic.

“Even if she picked up second prize money, that will get her close to making the field,” Portelli said.

“That will mean she will have won forty-eight thousand (dollars) and that would have got you in easily last year.”

Zafina tried her hardest when beaten into second by Conchita when having her first start and Portelli scratched her from a midweek race to run on Saturday.

“She doesn’t seem to be any world-beater but I’m happy for her to prove me wrong,” Portelli said.

“And she can start by doing that on Saturday because then I can look at the Magic Millions without putting any pressure on her,” Portelli said.

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