American St Leger scouting report: Panama Hat
Panama Hat was a progressive handicapper in Ireland last season for vet-turned- trainer Andy Oliver, reeling off five straight wins and coming within a neck of making it six. Spotting 13 pounds to winner, needless to say, made all the difference.
With his rating becoming too high for the handicap game, the Team Valor International runner accordingly has taken a class hike into stakes company in 2015. Concomitant with that is a step up into the staying ranks, with mixed results. A tiring fifth behind Forgotten Rules in his reappearance in the May 17 Vintage Crop (G3), he was just denied as the 3-1 favorite in the June 5 Saval Beg at Leopardstown. Watch (starting at 4:14) how he pounces to the lead, only to be nailed by Kingfisher late in the 1 3/4-mile test:
That looked even better after Kingfisher went on to finish an unlucky second in the Ascot Gold Cup (G1). Panama Hat didn't fare as well next time, trailing in a subpar last in the Curragh Cup (G3).
Oliver decided to add blinkers for the July 6 Lenebane S. at Roscommon. On the cutback in trip to 1 1/2 miles, Panama Hat mowed them down in a last-to-first move:
Interestingly, Oliver didn't think that the equipment change sharpened him up, since he usually takes up a more prominent position.
"But, even though he's won, it seems the blinkers didn't work as (regular rider) Chris (Hayes) was hard at work as soon as they jumped out," the trainer told irishracing.com.
Firm ground suits him, he's tactically adaptable, and has run well around a left-handed track at around this trip.
Panama Hat holds an entry in the September 13 Irish St Leger (G1). And as a four-year-old gelding, he could be around for quite a while in this division. The son of Medicean is out of a half-sister to Garden City (G1) winner and Irish classic-placed Luas Line and to Group 2 hero Lost in the Moment, who placed in such high-class staying events as the Goodwood Cup (G2) and Lonsdale Cup (G2).
Photo courtesy of Four Footed Fotos.