BAA Man has stamped himself as the next big thing in South Australia with an ultra-impressive clean sweep of the Group 3 Brian Johnstone series.
Baa Man, a November ’15 son of Dyna Tron and Just Crazy, is trained by Karen Wittholz and was bred by her husband Michael, the Gawler GRC Chairman.
The last two editions of the Brian Johnstone were won in 2015 by Worm Burner, which went on to claim the 2016 National Sprint Championship, and in 2016 by On Fire, runner-up in this year’s National Sprint Grand Final.
Whether Baa Man can emulate the feats of Worm Burner and On Fire remains to be seen, but he’s started his career in promising fashion, with his runaway Brian Johnstone triumph his ninth win from 16 starts and seventh from his last nine.
“He’s doing everything right at the moment,” a delighted Karen Wittholz said.
“He only broke in fairly and then started off mediocre. But then all of a sudden he went bang and started running time. He started off over the shorts and the big question was will he get 500, but he’s running it out very strongly.”
After overcoming interference to win his Brian Johnstone heat in 30.77, Baa Man won his semi-final in 29.94 and after drawing box six for last Thursday’s $25,000 to-the-winner final he started $2 favourite.
Baa Man came out running and after settling in third position, he chimed in three-wide approaching the home turn and powered clear, defeating Paula Hearnden’s $3.50 second elect Libby Raider by 5.75 lengths in 29.99 on a very wet track.
“When you’ve bred them, to pick up a decent race makes it well worth it,” Wittholz offered.
“Baa Man’s a bit of a stress-head, so I prefer him out of an odd box, because it gives him more time to settle, and he hasn’t raced a lot at night either.
“But as soon as he jumped well and lobbed third down the back, I thought he would be very hard to beat. I don’t open my mouth because I don’t want to jinx him, but when he turned for home I thought you’ve got this!
“He pulled up with a virus, but if he gets over it in time we’ll go to the heats of the Gawler Classic on December 17. He goes well at Gawler – he’s run 30.85 there – and he’s been at Angle Park the last six or seven weeks so it’ll be a change of scenery.”
Baa Man is closely related to 2014 Brian Johnstone winner Weblec Belle, with Baa Man’s dam Just Crazy (Cosmic Rumble – Snow Excuse) being a half-sister to Weblec Belle (Dyna Tron – Snow Excuse).
“We lost Snow Excuse when she wasn’t that old, so we decided to try to get Just Crazy back, after we’d sold her as a pup,” Wittholz said.
“We went to Dyna Tron with Just Crazy because when Snow Excuse went to Dyna Tron she produced Weblec Belle and Weblec Rose, which we also sold as pups.
“Just Crazy is in pup again to Dyna Villa, which is another son of Collision. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! She’s due on December 22 and scans indicate she has eight pups.”
Baa Man was the second leg of an Angle Park double for the Wittholz kennel and the Black Sheep Syndicate, with Baa Baa Ra, a December ’14 daughter of Lochinvar Marlow and Classic Ice, clocking 30.46, her ninth win from 41 starts.
“They’re called the Black Sheep Syndicate because one of the owners breeds sheep,” Karen explained.
“They were absolutely rapt. One of the owners, who’s a racehorse owner, had never been to the dogs before and whenever one of the other owners comes to the dogs they don’t go any good. So when he said he was coming to the final we were all a bit on edge!”