Newcastle trainer Paul Perry was left scratching his head after San Francisco made a mockery of his poor heavy-track form in winning the $22,000 Mornington Prelude (2100m) at Tamworth on Friday.
Ridden superbly by Samantha Clenton, the five-year-old bay gelding motored down the home straight, on a Heavy 9 surface, to beat the in-form, David Campbell-trained Melted Moments (Jacob Golden) by just over half a length.
The Brett Cavanough-trained Catalanic (Keagan Latham) was 1.54 lengths away in third place.
San Francisco, the 2019 Quirindi Cup winner, also won the Mornington Prelude last year. The winner of seven of his 37 starts, and 184,000 in prize money, is now exempt from the ballot for the Tamworth Cup meeting on April 26.
Perry said he would likely enter San Francisco in the $50,000 Mornington Showcase Handicap (2100m) at the meeting.
Perry decided to start him on Friday because he thought the gelding needed a run after a five-week freshener.
Perry said that "as a rule, he hates those sort of tracks". "I've scratched him two or three times on tracks like that, or not even as bad as that," he said. "It was a real surprise to see him get through it. So, good."
Clenton's ride was "exceptional", he said. "She gathered him up and he was always balanced ... that had a lot to do with it [the win], I'd say."