Flemington’s famous “straight six” can be a trap for inexperienced youngsters used to running around a bend and taking a lead from a rail.
Kiwi trainer Murray Baker was concerned that his progressive three-year-old Saracino might struggle to adapt to the contours of the straight 1200 metres at headquarters, a course and distance not encountered anywhere else in Australia.
The wily horseman hoped that his New Zealand raider might find cover to tow him into the race, at least past the crossing where the straight course meets the round circuit for the last 600 metres.
He admitted after the $6 shot had shown plenty of fight to virtually lead all the way in the group 2 Danehill Stakes that he had been worried when he had jumped in a prominent position, particularly given his tendency as a two-year-old to idle when he hit the front.
But any concerns would have been shortlived as Saracino, under Damien Oliver, saw off all challengers to score by a long neck from the Godolphin-owned Archives ($6.50) , who had also been in the vanguard throughout, with filly Samara Dancer ($11), from the Adelaide stable of Phillip Stokes running on for third.
Baker is not sure whether Saracino will stay the 1600 metres of the Caulfield Guineas, but he is unlikely to die wondering as the horse’s next target will be the 1400-metre Guineas Prelude at Caulfield in a fortnight.
Should he come through that and look as though the Guineas distance will be no problem he will probably head for the group 1 classic.
“I thought it was a very brave effort, he was in front a long way out,” Baker said. “We were going to probably try and ride him off the pace today to get him over the junction, but he was in front, he kept kicking all the way up the straight.
“You’d like to think he could make the Caulfield Guineas. Who knows, he might not be a miler more a sprinter. But there are plenty of options open for him if he’s not going to get the mile.”
The Caulfield classic could also be the target for Peter Snowden’s improving colt Detective, who took out the listed Starlight Express Room Stakes over 1400 metres under Chris Parnham, winning at his first ride for the Sydney yard.
“He’s getting further up the pecking order [in the Snowden stable], the trainer said. “This preparation I first wanted to win a race with him. He did that at Wyong and today he stepped up in class and won with authority.
“Whether he is a Guineas horse I am not sure, but he’s in it and we will keep heading that path and see what happens.”
It’s not often that horses start at $201 in a metropolitan race, and even rarer that they make the frame – especially on debut in a listed contest.
But young Japanese trainer Yoshitomo Shima, who is based at Ballarat, managed to almost pull off a massive shock with his filly Beyond The Dream, who beat all bar the favourite Kentucky Miss in the Cap D’Antibes Stakes.
Shima has hardly had any runners and is little known, as was the filly’s jockey, Sydney-based Yusuke Ichikawa. The trifecta on the race paid over $8000, while the first four, not surprisingly, jackpotted at over $88,000.