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Christmas to come early - Santa after a repeat win in Sprint Classic

Multiple Group One winner Santa Ana Lane is the early favourite to go back-to-back in the weight-for-age VRC Sprint Classic at Flemington.
Santa after a repeat win in Sprint Classic
Santa Ana Lane is searching for back-to-back VRC Sprints (Getty Images)

Connections of Santa Ana Lane are confident the star sprinter is in a similar vein of form to 12 months ago as he prepares for a defence of the Group One VRC Sprint Classic at Flemington.

The Anthony Freedman-trained Santa Ana Lane won last year's feature sprint during the Melbourne Cup carnival at Flemington coming off an unplaced run in The Everest on a heavy track the previous month.

The stable have taken that spring path again with Santa Ana Lane, who heads into Saturday's $2 million Darley Sprint Classic (1200m) off a last-start second to three-year-old colt Yes Yes Yes in the $14 million Everest in Sydney.

Assistant trainer Sam Freedman believes Santa Ana Lane is spot-on having had three weeks since The Everest but also feels the relatively small field of nine and forecast rain is some query for the fast-finishing sprinter.

"His work on Tuesday was super," Sam Freedman said.

"The small field is a little query and so is the rain that's around but we couldn't have him healthier and going better.

"If he's in touch with them at the furlong pole and the track is not too rain affected then it's probably his race to lose, I'd say.

"He was disappointing in the Everest last year so he's probably coming in off a better run and he's third-up on Saturday while last year he was fourth-up.

"So that probably works in our favour as well."

The field includes Nature Strip, who was fourth in The Everest and he was on the second line of betting on Thursday at $4.40 behind Santa Ana Lane ($2.25).

Three-year-old filly Loving Gaby, the last-start Group One Manikato Stakes winner, is $7.50 while last year's runner-up In Her Time is among Santa Ana Lane's rivals again.

Santa Ana Lane ran fourth in Hong Kong in the Chairman's Sprint Prize in April and is nominated for the Hong Kong International Sprint next month but Freedman ruled that out.

"Win lose or draw he will have a spell after Saturday and then we'll map out a 2020 plan for him that could include the possibility of Royal Ascot," he said.

"But Hong Kong, I think we'll keep our powder dry after Saturday."

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