Trainer Kevin Pizzuto admits Tiger Tara isn't the best horse in Saturday night's Miracle Mile but surrendering in any way in Menangle's biggest race of the year is not in his nature.
Tiger Tara became Pizzuto's first group 1 winner as he won a qualifier last Saturday and added another chapter to the story of the bloke from the wrong side of the tracks.
"If it wasn't for horses I wouldn't be round here. When I was a young bloke I was getting into some bad things and the horses saved me," Pizzuto said. "You just never give up, you don't surrender."
He might not be the biggest name in the sport but Pizzuto can train and strikes at around the 20 per cent mark with his stable, and Tiger Tara is the best horse he has had. The trainer's record shows he is up with the best in the country.
Tiger Tara was third in the InterDominion Final after a couple of seconds and a win in the heats. He was runner-up in the New Zealand Free-for-all and third in the New Zealand Cup and the Victoria Cup, which is a great set of credentials for a Miracle Mile.
"He is just a good horse," Pizzuto said. "He is not a Lazarus, which is the best horse I have ever seen and would win this race easily if it was [decided solely] on ability. He is probably not up with Soho Tribeca but Tiger Tara is just a damn good horse and he is out there to race and do everything he can to win.
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"That is what we do. This is a mile race and speed and tactics play a big role."
Tiger Tara has won his past two at Menangle, and 10 in total at the track. That has him a $4.80 chance, in from $5 at Ladbrokes.
Pizzuto believes he can go faster than his Menangle best of 1:49.8, especially after drawing gate one in the Miracle Mile. The instructions to driver Todd McCarthy will be clear.
"We aren't going to be giving anything away. We are going to be rolling on the gate," Pizzuto said. "There are no half measures when it comes to a race like this and we won't be surrendering without a big fight. I think he is up to a 1:47 with the right run, whether that is quick enough to win we will see.
"If you look at last week, Todd looked after him and he beat the best horse around. The week before he went 1:50 from the chair [outside the leader].
"He is tough and fast and they are going to know he is around."
The draw has made the Miracle Mile a real contest with champion Lazarus out to break the hoodoo of the outside draw of eight, after scratchings. He has drifted from $2.40 to $3.10 since the draw, while Soho Tribeca is second pick at $3.50.