Ramage reveals So You Think comparisons following Perfect Thought’s Carbine victory - DGR Thoroughbred Services

Ramage reveals So You Think comparisons following Perfect Thought's Carbine victory

Perfect Thought's Carbine victory

Perfect Thought (So You Think {NZ}) got his Classic season back on track on Saturday afternoon when sauntering to victory in the G3 Carbine Club S. We spoke to Duncan Ramage of Think Big Stud, the horse’s managing owners, about his purchase, progeny of So You Think (NZ) and more.

Carrying the same famous black and white checks of Think Big Stud, Perfect Thought looked every bit the image of his father when striding to a facile win at Flemington over the weekend, and Ramage revealed that the comparisons don’t stop there either.

Always well regarded by his trainer John Sargent, with a group of his friends also sharing in the ownership alongside Matthew Sandblom, Perfect Thought began his career as a later-season 2-year-old in the ANZAC Day S. at Flemington back in April this year, in which he posted a creditable fourth place.

“He was athletic enough to get away with a nice race as a 2-year-old, probably if he’d drawn a barrier he might have even got away with winning it,” Ramage told TDN AusNZ.

“Horses with natural athletic ability, unless they’re super immature, still get to the races at two, though just not at the top level, not in the Slipper or in high-pressure races.”

Perfect Thought finished 3.5l adrift of subsequent G2 Stutt S. winner Tijuana (American Pharoah {USA}) that day, who was also part of the field he so easily accounted for on Saturday.

Put away after that run, Perfect Thought returned for his Classic season in August but his performances were patchy. Having trialled well, he resumed at Randwick-Kensington on August 10 but finished a distant eighth.

Then, towards the end of that month he broke his maiden at Kembla Grange, beating the well-regarded Bunker Hut (NZ) (Savabeel). Two subsequent efforts saw him place fourth and a third in a Class 1 and a Midway H. respectively.

It looked a bold move placing him in a Group 3 on Derby Day at Flemington, and it wasn’t surprising to see him sent off on Saturday at prohibitive odds of $26. However, Ramage wasn’t so surprised at the result, noting that the horse has been crying out for a better track even since his juvenile days.

“The tracks have played against him,” he said. “He’s a lovely moving horse with a low action, and those horses don’t typically handle super-wet ground. Basically, most of the Eastern Seaboard… has been in the heavy rain.

DGR’s Duncan Ramage

“Even for his debut, we were struggling to find a better track so we went to Flemington for the ANZAC Day Stakes, both for the purpose of giving him a trip away, for the future, and also to escape the wet tracks in Sydney.

“When he spelled after that and resumed, we were constantly trying to find tracks that he could perform well at and learn at the same time.”

That dual-purpose trip to Flemington for his debut has worked out well for Perfect Thought, who was faultless in posting a 1.8l victory over Elkington Road (All Too Hard) on Saturday. For Ramage, it’s been worth waiting for, and he was full of praise for his trainer too.

“When you’re running them in conditions that are against them, they don’t come away from the raceday with a good experience or having learnt much. They go to the next run just as green as the start before.

“John is a very good traveller and trainer of horses. It’s something Bart used to love to do – taking them down to Flemington in the hope that eventually they become good enough to go back there, and then they’ve had that experience. It paid out in this horse’s favour.”

In the mould

Returning to the comparisons with his father, Ramage also pointed to Perfect Thought’s latest race-day gear change, which has seen the removal of blinkers, cross-over noseband and pre-race earmuffs.

“He’s quite similar (to So You Think) in a way. After his last start, when he had a lot of gear on, I was talking to John Sargent at trackwork one morning and reflected on So You Think when he sort of bombed a little in the Caulfield Guineas,” Ramage explained.

“They’re quite a proud and arrogant breed, the So You Thinks, and they probably don’t like being told too much what to do. So, Bart took all the gear off So You Think, other than putting a set of blinkers on.

“We did the same with this horse, and just let him roll free and he wasn’t worrying about fighting gear or jockeys and just got on with it. I think we’ve found the key to help him produce his best, and I don’t think you’ll see much gear on him unless we need to tinker in the future.”

Another point of similarity between father and son lies in their relatively inconspicuous purchase prices. A handsome, well-built and scopey yearling, Ramage purchased Perfect Thought at the 2021 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale for $120,000.

Perfect Thought as a yearling | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

His dam is the Exceed And Excel mare Perfectly Safe, who was a dual winner, with his second dam, Refuge (Ire), providing a 3 X 3 inbreeding to Sadler’s Wells (USA) and, although she was unraced, she is from a family of European stakes winners.

“He was well-priced, I was just the highest bidder at the sale that wanted him. Similar to So You Think himself, he only made $110,000.

“So You Think has gone well with all of those derivatives of Danzig basically. Exceed And Excel is a Champion stallion in his own right, and by and large most of those champion stallions end up becoming leading broodmare sires themselves, by dint of being good stallions themselves, plus they’re getting the better mares.”

Having begun covering in 2012, it’s early days for So You Think as a broodmare sire. However, he is responsible for last season’s Champion 2-Year-Old Fireburn (Rebel Dane) via the Think Big-raced mare Mull Over, and Ramage foresees similar results in the future.

So You Think

“He’ll be like High Chaparral, you see him in a lot of female pedigrees now, and he’s tracking the same way. You can go and buy a So You Think, and whether it be a colt or a filly, they’ve both got longevity to their careers – the colt if he’s any good and the filly for breeding on.”

Whilst Perfect Thought is clearly an above-average colt, whether or not he’ll retire to stud duties is still up for debate, and Ramage is keen not to get too far ahead of himself.

“It’s everybody’s wish, isn’t it? But, we did have a discussion this morning that we won’t target the AJC Derby, which would be a natural target, and give him a shot in some of the mile to a mile-and-a-quarter Group 1 races and see if he’s up to the mantle of that.

“If he does that in his autumn 3-year-old campaign then he’s potentially got some interest to the stallion market.”

All change at Think Big

Since the passing of founder Dato Tan Chin Nam in 2018, the operations of Think Big Stud have gradually moved away from breeding and standing stallions and have simplified towards purely racehorse ownership.

Dato Tan Chin Nam and Bart Cummings

As Ramage explained, this has allowed the founder’s family to continue to fly the famous colours to success at the top level, whilst avoiding quite such a long-term financial commitment.

“Breeding is a five- or six-year cycle, minimum,” he said. “It’s too long, a bit too slow for them and they want the flexibility, so every filly is now sold on.

“We’re not breeding, but we are reinvesting in yearlings. Dato wanted to see his colours race after his passing, that was his wish. So, that’s what we’re trying to do, but without the complications of running a farm.

“Farms are very successful if you run them yourself and manage your own horses. In the 10 years we were running Think Big we won $22 million in prizemoney with those horses that came through the system, and that’s before you had Everests and Golden Eagles… You get better results, but they are quite a monster to run.”

Hence, Think Big’s yearling purchases in recent years have numbered around a dozen, and Ramage has worked hard to unearth quality horses at value prices.

“We’re not in a position to go and attack those $500,000-$600,000 horses, so we have to shop around. But, you’ve still got to beat them on raceday, so you can’t buy an inferior product, you’ve just got to buy slightly cheaper, but of the same standard.

“You know which ones all the big stallion syndicates are going to chase, so you’ve just got to pick around, but you can’t drop the standards.”

With the likes of Perfect Thought emerging from this approach, Ramage deserves great credit for keeping standards as high as ever.

Story courtesy of TDN AusNZ