Derby Day used to be the pinnacle for the Australian punter.
You wouldn’t know it with the weather, but there’s a hint of spring in the air if you are a racing fan.
The good horses are back in work, many of them have started to run around in trials and we have a Group 3 race at Flemington.
Next week I’ll be publishing a piece on ten horses to watch this spring, so stay tuned for that.
Last week we found just the one winner from five selections, but a couple finished close at good value so hopefully that luck changes tomorrow.
Below are my thoughts on five races at two of the main venues.
The track is rated Soft 6 at the time of writing. Rail out ten metres.
Race 2 at 12.10pm – $135,000 Benchmark 70 Handicap (1400m)
You could make a case for about nine of the 12 runners here, but I am keen on a horse from the Snowden stable that had a heap of excuses last start.
Maozi finished second at Sandown Hillside but it was a total forgive run. Prior to that she was super impressive on the Lakeside track and has proven to handle all track conditions.
Maozi has the best jockey in the race in Damian Lane and he should have her poised to pounce from barrier four and should be in the finish.
Suggested bet: Maozi (2) to win
Race 5 at 1.55pm – $135,000 Benchmark 78 Handicap (2000m)
Taking a punt on former Kiwi Gazzara here after three very good runs since arriving in Australia. He was brilliant when winning over a mile at Moe and then backed it up with an all-the-way win at Cranbourne last month.
Drawn barrier one and with Linda Meech in the saddle, I expect Gazzara to lead or sit behind the leader. There are few better on a leader than Meech and at big odds you’ll get an excellent run for your money. The more rain the better.
Suggested bet: Gazzara (15) each-way
Race 8 at 3.55pm – $160,000 Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m)
The feature race of the day looks wide open, with about ten winning chances. Milwaukee is the proven performer at the track and distance and in the soft conditions.
From five starts down the 1200m at Flemington, the Mike Moroney-trained gelding has won three times and finished second twice. He’s not bomb-proof and this is a tricky race, but you’re getting each-way odds about him and he ticks all the boxes.
Damien Oliver riding at 54.5kg is a big tick in his favour so I’d expect Milwaukee to run a big race.
Suggested bet: Milwaukee (7) each-way
Track rated Good 4 at time of writing. Rail in the true position.
Race 6 at 2.55pm – $125,000 Benchmark 88 Handicap (1400m)
Not a bad race and a number of these are a chance of collecting the cash.
The Bjorn Baker-trained Drachenfels was the black-booker from Randwick last start after bombing the start. He ran home well to be second.
Hopefully Tim Clark can get him to jump this time on the quick back-up and positions him closer because he should be right in the finish here. I’m tipping him for the win but take him each-way if you get evens for a place.
Suggested bet: Drachenfels (8) to win
Race 8 at 4.15pm – $125,000 Benchmark 78 Handicap (1200m)
The class runner of the race is So Taken and even though he is first-up, he can beat this field on Saturday.
The Chris Waller-trained four-year-old competed strongly in some good races in the autumn and has been given a good spell with an eye to the spring.
So Taken was given a run in a soft trial last week and it was solid enough when asked for very little. I got $9 when markets opened and he’s shortened since, but he’s still good enough value to back. The main danger could be top-weight Black Magnum.
Suggested bet: So Taken (2) each-way
Total spent in 2019-20: $100
Total return in 2019-20: $72
Based on $20 spend per selection