Mystic Journey is going to be awfully hard to beat this preparation based on her first-up performance at Caulfield on Saturday, but I wouldn’t be rushing in to back her in any futures markets.
The old adage insists “a good colt will beat a good filly.” It speaks for itself, really.
With two year old racing set to hit its peak over the next six weeks, and with the running of the Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield this Saturday, it’s a good time to test whether this axiom will hold up for this year’s crop.
Are the colts set to dominate the fillies, or will it be another year for the fillies to shine?
Of course, it is possible we are yet to have seen the best two year old, and it only takes one horse to change this hypothesis.
On what we’ve seen so far, though, it is clear old logic will not apply. Good colts in this crop of two year olds are scant, and all data to date suggests the fillies are far superior to their male counterparts.
In fact, I’d be very surprised if the colts and geldings get the better of the fillies in either the Blue Diamond Stakes or the Golden Slipper.
It was something that looked possible early in the season – the first four over the line in the first major two year old race, the Magic Millions Classic, were all females (Real Surreal, Sweet Idea, Missy Longstocking, Global Dream).
However, I’d suggest the signs were there as early as the first two year old stakes races at Randwick in the first week of October.
Whittington looked outstanding winning the Breeders Plate for the males, comfortably beating War and I’m No Phony, while Brilliant Bisc proved a surprise winner of the Gimcrack Stakes, getting the better of Guelph and Shahad.
The times after the race proved interesting, though.
Whittington ran 58.46 for the 1000m, while Brilliant Bisc ran the trip in 57.82.
Using the average comparison of six lengths to a second, Brilliant Bisc ran almost four lengths quicker than Whittington.
In fact, the first three horses over the line would all have beaten Whittington home, despite the fact he looked very impressive.
Although it is dangerous to use raw times without adjusting for a number of factors, including pace, track conditions and bias, it is a pattern which has continued throughout the season. It is a pattern that can’t be ignored.
The Blue Diamond Previews and Preludes provide a good opportunity to compare times.
The Previews saw Miracles of Life run 57.23 for the 1000m as opposed to Dissident’s 58.11. And the Preludes saw Guelph run 63.88 for the 1100m compared to Kuroshio’s 64.10.
It occurred again last weekend, when the Canonbury Stakes and Widden Stakes were both run at Rosehill over 1100m.
Whittington couldn’t reproduce his debut performance, finishing second to Never Can Tell in the Canonbury Stakes with Criterion third. However, the eye catcher was Overreach, who won the Widden Stakes from Everage and Brilliant Bisc.
Using times once more, Overreach (64.21) ran almost seven lengths quicker than Never Can Tell (65.33). Everage would also have finished in front of Never Can Tell, once again signalling the strength of the two year old fillies.
Overreach has also highlighted the form of another filly, Villa Verde.
Villa Verde, for mine, is still the yardstick around which all other juveniles can be measured this season. She won the Debutante Stakes on debut, easily accounting for Overreach and Kuroshio, before another easy win on Melbourne Cup day.
She looks the real deal, and it would take a very special colt to get the better of her.
Of course, the fillies haven’t completely dominated the season. The Maribyrnong Trial Stakes (Kuroshio), the Maribyrnong Plate (Direct Charge) and the Inglis Classic (Marseille Roulette) all went to the males. However, I’d argue the two Flemington races were among the weaker stakes races for juveniles so far this season while the Inglis Classic form does not look overly strong.
All the signs point to the girls dominating the major juvenile races.
Looking to Saturday’s Blue Diamond Stakes, I will go out on a limb and say that Thermal Current is the only colt that can win. He was desperately unlucky last start and it is hard to tell how good he may be.
The race is at the mercy of the Adelaide filly Miracles of Life, an absolute gun who looks one right out of the box.
The biggest query is not her ability, but the big race ability of her jockey, Lauren Stojakovic.
The 29-year-old mature apprentice has an affinity with Miracles of Life, but barrier 1 in a large field at Caulfield for any jockey is a tough ask. When the horse is the nominal favourite, with every other jockey aiming to bring about your downfall, barrier 1 in a large field at Caulfield is the jockey’s equivalent of conquering Mount Everest.
For Stojakovic, who has only had the one ride at Caulfield, it will be one incredible achievement.
I’m not saying it is impossible, as she is a talented jockey, but she’ll require every ounce of talent she’ll ever possess in order to ensure Miracles of Life is not hopelessly stuck around the home turn.
Still, with all that against her, I’ll be cheering for the Adelaide team.
Darley’s Guelph is vying for favouritism, but I think the main danger is her unbeaten stablemate Metastasio. I’m not sure she beat too much last start, but she did it with such ease that
She looks to be more precocious than her stablemates, while Guelph looks a three year old in the making. Darley also have Montsegur representing them here.
If there is to be an upset, it could come from Gregers. David Hayes and Dwayne Dunn seem to fire in this race, and she was dominant on debut beating last week’s Talindert Stakes quinella Casquets and Annenberg. She’s set to improve and a win wouldn’t surprise.
All the same, though, it looks a season for the fillies.
Perhaps we will see our next Samaready, Crystal Lily, Miss Finland or Alinghi this weekend – and not necessarily in the winner’s stall!