I always enjoy reading effervescent Australian lady trainer Gai Waterhouse’s blog, as she often reveals not only brilliant tidbits about her runners, but also makes insightful (and sometimes scathing) commentary on the state of racing. I can’t imagine an American trainer who could pull off what she does.
Fascinating morsel of information from her on Thursday—a scanned copy of a letter to her from American trainer Wesley Ward which states that: (1.) Hialeah Park is to be open for training purposes (in addition to quarter-horse races, I presume—something that I had not previously heard); and (2.) Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey plan to send ENG-G1 Golden Jubilee runner-up (and Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint probable) Cannonball to Hong Kong for December’s G1 Hong Kong Classic, and then to Australia for the G1 Lightning Stakes at Flemington. Fascinating—and ambitious, to say the least.
Yet another jam-packed night of group races upcoming this evening (and early Saturday morning) from Australia, including the $1 million G1 Caulfield Guineas featuring Gai’s tremendously-talented Manhattan Rain taking on nearly-unbeaten Darley-colt Denman and promising Patinack Farm-owned Trusting. For a bit of price, I like the New Zealand-bred So You Think.
In the G1 Yalumba Stakes, last year’s winner Douro Valley returns—albeit way off form—but the hot-favorites look to be Whobegotyou and Heart of Dreams. For me, though, it’s the Kiwi high-weights that are sentimental choices, particularly Nom Du Jeu—and don’t count out the great mare Zarita.
The G1 Toorak Handicap features Black Piranha, recently unable to break out from the bridesmaid’s role, with four straight second-place finishes. Gai’s Rock Kingdom comes in off a win in last weekend’s G1 Epsom Handicap, but with a new jockey (Craig Williams) and an awkward post position (15). Rock Kingdom’s most recent jock, Blake Shinn, takes the ride of favorite Raheeb, but, with his drop in weight assignment (from 122 to 115), Raffaello could be very tough.
Seven-year-old Apache Cat tries the G2 Schillaci Stakes, although Lucky Secret will thrive at the distance, and watch out for the spicy-hot 3-year-olds, Wanted who has put in two sharp appearances this spring, and the General Nediym filly Paprika making her first start since finishing second behind Phelan Ready in the $2 million Magic Millions Classic back in January.
The 12-furlong G2 Presentation (Herbert Power) Stakes underwhelms me, especially with C’est La Guerre out. I suppose if I had to choose, last-out JRA winner Alcopop looks in form, and Zavite’s reunion with jockey Nash Rawiller (and the dry track) offer a promising return to the winner’s cicle.
That same dry track doesn’t necessarily favor Avenue in the G3 Thoroughbred Club Stakes. I am looking forward to the return of the Shamardal filly Marquardt who thumped Manhattan Rain back in January. Darley-owned Kanzan will likely get a piece.