Multiple Group 1-winning trainer Anthony Azzopardi admits he’s never really considered Salad Dodger capable of being in the track record-breaking ‘mix’.
But his highly underrated speedster had the Traralgon 450-metre track record ‘tossed’ last Wednesday night.
Exiting from box four, Salad Dodger led from go to whoa against
a classy Mixed 4/5 field comprising Healesville 300m TR holder Unleash Collinda ($1.50F), which was chasing his eighth win from his past nine starts.
Salad Dodger ($5.10) defeated Perfect Colour ($23.60) by 4L, with Shadow Riot ($6.70) – also trained by Azzopardi – a further 3.25L away third in 24.482sec.
He sliced around 1L off the previous mark (24.547sec), set by Quinlan Bale on December 9 last year.
Salad Dodger (Aug ’20 Whiskey Riot x Winsome Sandy) – owned by Aiden Lee (who turns 24 on February 18) in Coonamble, NSW – notched his 13th win (with eight seconds and seven thirds) from 35 starts. His stakes total $89,155.
“It (the track record) was a bit of a surprise… However, the track was in excellent shape and the conditions (no wind etc.) were favourable,” Azzopardi said.
“Things have changed for him. The penny has dropped and I’m hoping he’s taken the next level.”
“He’s always run fair time and just keeps getting better every month. He’s a natural, and his times have been getting faster. There’s not a lot of dogs that chase like him; that’s his forte.”
Azzopardi informed the Glenview Park ‘hit-out’ was in preparation for the forthcoming G2 Traralgon Cup series – third and final leg of the 2022/2023 Gippsland Festival of Racing – which kicks off with heats on January 20.
“That was the idea of it. He seems to love the joint, and I really like Traralgon and that long back straight. If you take a good dog there that’s down in confidence, it’s a real help for them.”
Azzopardi says it’s “a good feeling” training Salad Dodger, given he’s a son of his champion 2019 G1 Melbourne Cup and 2020 G1 Temlee winner Whiskey Riot.
“His offspring are running times. He throws pace into his pups, and they all get ‘500’.”
Salad Dodger made his way to Azzopardi due to a long-time friendship with Aiden’s father, Damian, for many years. And an older brother, Jade, worked for Azzopardi when he was based in Sydney.
Even though Salad Dodger last year was runner-up to Typhoon Sammy in the G2 Bendigo Cup and Mr. Audacious in the G3 Warragul St Leger and third to kennelmate Deadly Class in the G3 SA Derby, Azzopardi believes he’s finally at the “peak of his powers”.
“Things have changed for him. The penny has dropped and I’m hoping he’s taken the next level.
“When he first came here, I thought he wasn’t going to stay long because of his barking and squealing antics.
“But I wanted to see if he’d settle down. He wasn’t going well, but all of a sudden, he put in a massive trial at Bendigo. And since that day on, he’s been the perfect kennel dog.”
All the ‘borders’ at his Rowsley-based kennel enjoy the ‘life of Riley’, Azzopardi says with pride.
“They’ve got a pretty good life here. They can do what they like from their kennel, including access to artificial grass yards (see main pic) – a happy dog is everything.
“They have a life outside of racing… I keep their minds refreshed.”
SALAD DODGER (B4) enjoys a ‘salad day’, smashing the 450m track record at Traralgon on Wednesday night.
This content was originally published here.