In recent years the NBA has become accustomed to having brothers in the league.
After a few eventful weeks at Flemington, we head back to Caulfield for this Saturday’s Victorian meeting with an action-packed nine-race program.
We are into the off-season now, so the racing isn’t at an all-time peak quality-wise, but there are still some good races on the program, particularly the two and three-year-old events.
The track is currently rated as a Soft 6 and it’s hard to see it getting any worse than that with the weather forecast for the rest of the week. The rail is out nine metres, which generally favours those racing on the speed. Let’s find some winners!
Two-year-olds, handicap, 1100 metres
We kick off the meeting with a race for the babies. I think the bookmakers have got a couple way over the odds here, and I’m prepared to speck a couple at big odds. Dark Horse jumped out well leading into his debut at Sandown and he didn’t let punters down when winning by a length. When the gap on the rails came for Luke Nolen (who sticks today) he burst through and won with ease while posting the fastest last 200 metres of the meeting. There isn’t a stack of speed engaged in this, so he should be able to cross from the wide gate (9), and they will have trouble running him down.
Kahaylaan is a first starter out of the McEvoy yard who jumped out like a very good horse at Flemington last Friday. He looks to have a stack of natural speed, draws well (5) and is surely over the odds at $17.
Island Joy was a very good winner on debut and she draws the perfect barrier (1) to get the run of the race, while Stumped and Johnny Boss can run good races at a price.
Recommended bet: Small each-way plays on No. 2 Dark Horse at $11 and No. 8 Kahaylaan at $17. Playing a wide trifecta including No. 2, No. 4, No. 8, No. 9 and No. 11.
Three-year-olds, fillies, benchmark 78, handicap, 1100 metres
One of the better races on the program arrives here, but from a punting perspective it’s nearly impossible. I had Paul’s Regret on top, but with the rail out so far, it might be hard to make ground. She was super first up when running half a length off Lankan Star, who she gets a six kilo weight swing on in this affair. Her run last start was unlucky when behind, held up around the turn and then running home strongly for fourth. From the good barrier (5) Williams should be a bit more positive which is her best chance.
Felicia comes out of the same first run as Paul’s Regret, and you could argue her run was better after travelling three wide and without cover throughout. She bounced to the lead last start and was far from disgraced when running two lengths off the winner.
I thought Button Express was fantastic last start and will probably benefit from a drier surface, while Broadwayandfourth might be the best horse in the race but constantly makes it harder for herself to win with her get back and run on racing style.
Recommended bet: I’m leaving this one alone. Beware, punters! Anything could happen here.
Benchmark 78, handicap, 1200 metres
This is an intriguing race, and some value can be found with the first few in the market being a bit too short. Leiter gets his chance to win again after a series of minor placings. He was good two back against Reward with Return at Bendigo after having to lump 60 kilograms before coming back to Caulfield and running third and a length off Viral after having to do a ton of work early in the race. He draws well today (6), gets in well with the three kilogram claim from Lewis German and will take plenty of running down.
I’ll have something small on Alsvin. The viral form line seems to run through a few horses in this race, and this bloke beat him on resumption a couple of months back. He was flat last start off a seven-week break at Sale on a soft track, but getting back on a drier surface could be the key to his improvement. He has the speed to cross from the gate (10) and should be hard to chase down.
Hidden Legend is the best horse in the race, but I hate him drawing out wide (15). You can just see him getting caught wide and without cover – it’s going to take a good ride from Kah for him to win, but he does have the ability.
Ocean’s Fourteen is the best of the rest and should go into all the exotics.
Recommended bet: Each-way plays on No. 10 Leiter at $7.50 and No. 12 Alsvin at $31.
Three-year-olds, handicap, 1600 metres
This is potentially the best race on the program. It’s a relatively wide-open affair, and I’d want a bit longer odds (upwards of $4), but Right You Are looks hard to beat. The penny dropped with this Price gelding at the end of last preparation when he beat Grand Promenade, who won four in a row subsequently, by two lengths. He went out for a break after that and resumed with a good win three weeks ago over Cuban Toonite. From the low draw (2) he should settle closer in the run, and Damien Oliver riding him over Librate is a good pointer.
Librate is the main danger and is over the odds. The form coming out of the Laelia is very good and she only ran a length off Realm of Flowers and that day. Since that she has won two on the trot, including a big win over Charleise last start at Flemington. She is in good form, draws well again (4) and should prove hard to beat.
Independent Road gets back on a drier surface today, which could see him improve. He was only 0.75 lengths off Betcha Flying two back and a repeat of that can see him measure up.
Smoke Bomb was brilliant last start and is the likely leader from the good gate (3). This is harder, but with any improvement he’ll get close.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 4 Right You Are (looking for $4-plus) and either a saver or each-way play on No. 2 Librate at $8.50.
Four-year-olds and up, benchmark 90, mares, handicap, 1200 metres
This is probably the hardest race to try and find the winner in for the day, and for that reason I want to leave it alone. Dyslexic mixes her form, but her best is good enough in this field. You only have to go back to last preparation to see her run 1.5 lengths off them at Group 2 level. She was flat on resumption in Adelaide before putting in a really good run to finish half a length off Sweet Scandal and In Her Time two back. A repeat of that would see her go close here.
Kenyan Wonder drops in grade back from competing in strong group races over the Adelaide carnival and must be considered. She draws perfectly (3) and has always shown the ability to win a race like this.
Twitchy Frank was disappointing at this track last start, but if you disregard that, her form prior would go close here. She was only a length away from Zargos at group level in Tasmania and that form has to be respected in this.
Gododdin and Miss Mandito are the best of the rest and are musts for the multiples.
Recommended bet: Leaving this one alone as well. It’s not often I say this about two races on a program!
Handicap, 1100 metres
This is another race I think the two in the market are a bit too short and there’s some value around them. Tavisan generally takes a few runs to get going and hasn’t been disgraced in his two runs this campaign. He faded to run three lengths off Bella Vella on resumption, but the form coming out of that race is exceptional, with Bella Vella now being a Group 1 winner. He then came back to Caulfield on a heavy track and ran two lengths off News Girl, who he faces again here. He is ideally drawn (2) and should take plenty of running down.
Ashlor is another who will sit on the speed and give a sight. If you disregard his last run, he has been running well. His run two back was a pretty good effort considering the top three out of that race have franked the form, and his previous run was also good, running half a length off Diamond Effort. He draws well (6) and should give a sight at good odds.
News Girl is the one they want to be on early, and rightfully so in many respects. She ran 0.75 lengths off Coruscate last start (who has won since) and is ultra-consistent. I just worry about where she will get in the run from the gate (10).
Hawker Hurricane drops in grade here, but I’m just not sold he is going that well. His best probably wins this, though, and that is why he is at a shorter quote than some others.
Recommended bet: Each-way plays on No. 2 Ashlor at $13 and No. 5 Tavisan at $7.
Benchmark 84, handicap, 1600 metres
We finally get a race I’m keen to play into. Sikorsky is the only short-priced favourite on the program and for good reason after a dominant win last start at Flemington when beating the very smart Orleans Rock by 1.5 lengths. He was unlucky on resumption when beaten as a certainty at Bendigo coming off a 70-week break, and he was fantastic two back when savaging the line behind Jumbo Ozaki at this track. That horse is the favourite in the next race, so punters think the form stacks up. He is flying, this bloke, and hopefully Damien Oliver can give him another good ride.
I want to put a saver on one at huge odds, and that is Tavirun. The bookmakers and punters alike don’t want a bar of him after a terrible run on resumption, but if you look back at last prep, he was poor on resumption before bouncing back for the rest of the preparation. He is going around at huge odds for a horse who draws well (6) and has a 29 per cent win record after 17 starts.
Pure Scot has struck a good vein of form and loves Caulfield, while Bartholomeu Dias is having his first Australian start and has been gelded, and it wouldn’t shock to see him fire first up after a promising jump out.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 6 Sikorsky at $2.40 with something small on No. 4 Tavirun at $35.
Benchmark 84, handicap, 1400 metres
Another intriguing race and another that I’m happy to bet into. I was on Jumbo Ozaki when he won over this track and trip last start and, if anything, I think he drops in grade here and is the same price. He has been good this time in. He beat Polanco narrowly at Flemington three back before running into a very handy type in Big Night Out at Bendigo two back. The horse he beat here last start, Sikorsky, has won since and is a $2.40 favourite in the previous race, so the form stacks up well. He draws well (2), Williams chooses him over Viral and he should be hard to beat.
I’m going to save on Victoria Star. He is the clear danger. The Eurell-trained Gelding has now won three in a row, with his win on resumption at Cranbourne his best when beating a couple that he faces again here. This is his hardest test to date, but he draws ideally (3) and with even luck is the clear threat to my top pick.
Viral is probably slightly over the odds. He has put two wins together on the bounce and his last win at this track was fantastic. Damien Oliver jumps on, and as long as he can get some cover in the run, he will be right in it.
There is a watch on the two imports having their Australian debuts in Biometric and Price Range. Both have jumped out well leading into this.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 12 Jumbo Ozaki at $4 with a saver on No. 13 Victoria Star at $5.50.
Three-year-olds and up, handicap, 2000 metres
The last of the program arrives here and it’s no different to the rest of the day – an incredibly open affair. I’m going to pick one at odds again here in the form of Carzoff. I didn’t know what to make of his Sandown run and I thought he might have appreciated the wet track when others didn’t, but his run at Flemington last start leads me to believe he is in form and has the ability to win this. He finished two lengths off the winner in Super Titus there but had to come off heels a few times in the straight. From the good gate (4) he can settle closer in the run today. He gets in well with the claim and is a good chance.
Mahamadeis and Super Titus come out of that same race and both have claims. Mahamadeis looks to have his number and probably should have won last start, and he goes in ahead of him here due to the fact he draws better (6) and should get a better run in transit.
Girl Tuesday and Hang Man are the best of the rest in what seems like a good race to play exotics.
Recommended bet: No. 2 Carzoff each way at $15.
Best bet: Race 7. No. 6 Sikorsky.
Next-best bet: Race 8, No. 12 Jumbo Ozaki
Best value: Race 3, No. 10 Leiter, and Race 9, No. 2 Carzoff.