Trainer Roy Roots jnr knew there was a big win in The Black Prince and on Friday night he delivered on the promise when he claimed the group 1 Newcastle Mile and a ticket into the $1 million Miracle Mile.
Third in the race last year to announce himself as a group 1 contender, The Black Prince made the most of a smart drive from Robbie Morris to take the inside run in the straight and power to a 2.7 metre win in 1:51:1.
The Black Prince, the 2018 Newcastle Horse of The Year, sat behind early leader and favourite Turn It Up before producing the finishing burst. Western Sonador was second and Bright Energy, with Louth Park reinsman aboard, was third.
Former Keinbah-based trainer Roots jnr, who now trains on the Central Coast, told the Newcastle Herald on Thursday that The Black Prince was capable of a major victory with the right run and he was in career-best form.
He was produced first-up in the $100,000 race with an eye to Miracle Mile qualifiers next week at Menangle, but he now has a place in the race.
Superstar pacer Lochinvar Art was a late scratching from the Newcastle Mile on Friday morning.
A $1.45 favourite for the Miracle Mile qualifier, Lochinvar Art was to start from the extreme outside barrier for Victorian trainer-driver David Moran.
The seven-time group 1 winner was to race in Newcastle because owner Kevin Gordon, who lives in Lake Macquarie, wanted to win his home feature.
However, he was withdrawn on Friday because of a minor foot injury. Gordon said the horse, staying at Luke and Belinda McCarthy's property in Sydney, was out in a yard midweek when a nail pushed into his hoof after he pulled off a shoe. Gordon said it was only on Friday morning that his star pacer showed signs of lameness.
"It's a nothing," Gordon said of the injury he described as a corn.
"But the horse is a bit sore on it and David had the vet out this morning and he said it was a 50-50 call.
"He rang me and said it's the horse's best welfare to not start, but he'll be right by Tuesday.
"It's disappointing because it was the Newcastle Mile, a race I've always wanted to win, but the welfare of the animal comes first."
He was unsure if Lochinvar Art would race in qualifiers next weekend at Menangle or rely on a wildcard into the Miracle Mile and next compete in the $1 million event on March 6.
"It's bad timing but you have to look on the bright side," he said of the injury.
"It's happened 24 hours before a Newcastle Mile and not a Miracle Mile. He'll be right for the Miracle Mile."
Whereyabinboppin was a midweek scratching and second emergency Pump The Brakes was also out on Friday, leaving the race with just seven runners.
Despite losing his star, Moran had a winner on the night when Patsbeachstorm, a $1.15 favourite, cruised to a 20m win in the opening race.
Dibaba, for trainer-driver Jack Trainor, was another odds-on winner early in the program, beating Mark Callaghan-trained Repartee by a half-neck.
Art Tutor, which was a nomination for the Newcastle Mile, claimed race three by 11.8m for trainer Joe Conolly as a $1.30 favourite.
Petes Said So ($6.50), for trainer KerryAnn Morris, held out Callaghan's Royal Gamble to take out the fourth.
In the Menangle Country Series heat, Maitland combination Guy and Mitch Chapple's Yoha led and fought hard late to edge out Clayton-Harmey trained Johnson Step by a nose in 1:51:9.
Racing returns to Newcastle Paceway on Monday with a nine-race program.