Spring is in the air at Caulfield this week where we have three group races, headlined by the Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes where Mystic Journey and Arcadia Queen return.
The supporting cast is also solid, with a few rising three- and four-year-olds taking their part. The rail is out nine metres, so it generally favours those on speed, but it is best to watch the first couple of races to identify any clear pattern. The track will definitely be in the soft range, and I would expect it to be at either a soft seven or heavy eight come the first race.
Let’s find some winners!
Race 1: Three-year-olds and up, Benchmark 84, fillies and mares handicap, 1800 metres
We’ve got a red-hot favourite to kick off proceedings here in the first. Expect that favourite in Sovereign Award to lead them up here, with Clean Acheeva sitting handy. They should go at a moderate clip. Ruby Skye shapes as the best value chance in a race where I don’t have much trust in the two favourites. She hit the line nicely first-up on the inferior part of the track at Sandown, before running a very good race last start when half a length split her, Moscow Red and Mrs O’Malley. The latter two are $4 and $6 here and this mare should be ready to peak third-up where she has a good record (4:2-0-0). She drops 4.5 kilos from that run and goes very well on rain-affected tracks. Sovereign Award shapes as the main danger. The Danny O’Brien Mare has come back in good order, winning at Sale on resumption before leading all the way at the Valley last start. She draws perfectly today (3) but she still does a lot wrong during her races so therefore I can’t take the $2 currently on offer. Moscow Red and Mrs O’Malley both come out of the same race as my on top selection and therefore must be considered, especially the former on a wet deck.
Recommended bet: #5 Ruby Skye each way at $7.50.
Race 2: Benchmark 78, handicap, 1000 metres
One of the more open races on the program this one and they are going to go incredibly quick with A Good Yarn, Mister Mogul, Iknewshewasmine, and Reward with Return all wanting to lead. That sets the race up perfectly for Propelle who should breakthrough today. She had excuses both two and three runs back at this track, before stepping back to 1000 metres last start and running second, 3.5 lengths away from the ultra-talented Brooklyn Hustle. She gets at least four kilos on her two main dangers and if she has any luck from the low draw (2) she will be hard to hold out. A Good Yarn and Mister Mogul have been competing against each other a fair bit this preparation and the latter has had the upper hand each time. It’s hard to see that changing today with a two kilos turnaround for Mister Mogul so he goes in as second pick. The Closer is probably the best horse in the race but she does her best racing over 1400 metres so the 1000 metres might be a bit too quick for her today. It wouldn’t shock to see her run well, in saying that.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #8 Propelle at $4.20.
Race 3: Four-year-olds and up, mares handicap, 1100 metres
This is an interesting race with a few promising types resuming against the horses that are rock hard fit after a couple of runs this preparation. There doesn’t look to be much speed in the race. Expect She’s a Thief to lead and Acting to sit handy. I think Acting is over the odds at the current quote and looks a great each-way bet. If you forgive her last few runs last preparation where she had excuses, her form stacks up incredibly well. She won the Thousand Guineas Prelude in her first racing preparation, before running two lengths off Flit in the Thousand Guineas itself. She has had two jump-outs leading into this first-up assignment and I loved the way she hit the line in her last one at Cranbourne. She draws well (4), maps to get the run of the race and she should be fit enough with those two jump-outs under the belt. She’s a Thief will get an easy time of it out in front and could prove hard to run down. The Mike Moroney Mare has won two out of her last three, which included a dominant win over this track and trip last start. Street Icon was placed in a Group 1 before spelling and therefore must be respected. Her first-up record isn’t flash, and she won’t want it too heavy, but she has the class on her side. Bless Her and Chassis are the fit, in-form horses who might fill the minor placings.
Recommended bet: #3 Acting each way at $6.
Race 4: Handicap, 1600 metres
It’s another intriguing race here where I think there are only three winning chances. There doesn’t look to be any speed on whatsoever. Think We’re Due will probably cross from the wide gate and lead, with Northwest Passage being handy. Firstclass Dreamer was the overs in the race. He is gunning for three in a row here and his form stacks up well. Two-back he beat West Wind by 1.75 lengths who was only a length away from the horse that is $2 in the first race, before winning well at Sandown last start over Bacchus. He maps to get the perfect run from the rails draw (1) and the class edge that the favourite might have is negated by this gelding carrying five kilos less after the claim from Thomas Stockdale. Plein Ciel is the favourite and is the best horse in the race based on recent form. He dead-heated with Shot of Irish two-back at the Valley in a race he had no right to win, before running a solid fourth in the Winter Championship Final last start. He has had six weeks in between runs and you would expect Danny O’Brien has him ready to go for this. Exasperate is the only other winning chance. He was fantastic late in his last preparation winning two in a row at this track and the soft track won’t do him any harm. His first-up record is concerning but he has hit the line nicely in his recent jump-outs and must be considered.
Recommended bet: #9 Firstclass Dreamer each way at $7.
Race 5: Vain Stakes, Group 3, three-year-olds, colts and geldings, 1100 metres
The start of the group races arrives here, and this is an absolute beauty for the three-year-olds. The pace will be only moderate with Rulership leading and Ranting and Larimer Street sitting on the speed. Ranting looks to have improved since his first racing preparation where he went very well. On debut at Caulfield, he finished off strongly when running 0.3 lengths off Forever Free, who subsequently won a listed level race, before going over to South Australia and running two lengths off Ecumenical at Group 3 level. His jump out at Flemington leading into this first-up assignment was superb and he is proven on a rain-affected deck. He will get the dream run camping on the leaders back and will prove hard to hold out. Rulership is one of the dangers. He narrowly missed in the Blue Diamond Prelude when beaten a neck by Hanseatic, before having excuses in both the Blue Diamond and the Kindergarten Stakes in subsequent runs. He jumped out brilliantly on the Synthetic at Randwick and draws perfectly (3) to lead and dictate the race. Hydro Star has plenty of ability and showed that when dominating a handy field at Sandown three weeks ago. He will be better over further than that, but he is short considering he does plenty wrong in his races and is a very raw colt. He is the unknown horse in the race to an extent and a few questions will be answered on Saturday.
Recommended bet: #5 Ranting each way at $6.
Race 6: Quezette Stakes, Group 3, three-year-old fillies, 1100 metres
Another cracking three-year-old event takes place here and I’m sure a few of these will go on to bigger and better things. They’ll go at a quick tempo with River Night, Supreme Idea, Fresh and Zooming Zebra all wanting to lead. I was prepared to play at a couple at odds and one of those was River Night. This filly was a good winner in the Redoutes Choice last preparation at this track, before running a narrow second to the ultra-talented KhoeKhoe in the Sires Showdown. They put 3.5 lengths on the third horse which always reads well. Her two jump-outs leading into this have been superb to the eye and from the rails draw (1) she can use that to be prominent in the run. She looks over the odds for a horse that loves Caulfield and is fit and ready to go. Seeress had excuses on debut and was immediately tipped out. She has been brilliant this time in. She came from a mile back to win on the Synthetic at Ballarat when clocking the fastest last 400 metres and 200 metres of the meeting, before going to the Valley and being completely luckless when running fifth. The wide gate (13) is to her advantage as long as they can run on and she is another that is well over the odds. Parlophone has been dominating everything this preparation and that included a huge win in Adelaide last start at listed level when winning by three lengths. She has plenty of talent and might be something special, but I am not taking $2.50 for her in this field. Agreeable has talent and must be considered, as well as Bella Nipotina, who jumped out brilliantly leading into this.
Recommended bet: Each way plays on #2 River Night at $16 and #11 Seeress at $21.
Race 7: Regal Roller Stakes, listed level, four-year-olds and up, handicap, 1200 metres
This is another interesting race where the supposed class runners are first-up against the hard-fit horses. The speed looks strong early with Age of Chivalry, Jungle Edge and Begood Toya Mother all wanting to sit on the speed. If they can run on, Bumper Blast looks like a big chance. He is a lightly raced five-year-old, having just the seven starts. Last preparation he beat Morrissy at Flemington over 1400 metres and that reads well considering Morrissy is an $18 chance in the feature on this program. He was fantastic resuming down the straight at Flemington over 1000 metres when beating Mister Mogul by 0.75 lengths and clocking the second fastest last 200 metres of the meeting. The only time he was second-up he won by 6.75 lengths, which also reads well leading into this. They will go quick up front, and he should storm home rising to the 1200 metres and having race fitness over the rest of the field. Age of Chivalry is a good horse and although his first-up record isn’t flash, his class should take him a long way. He is Group 1 placed, which the majority of this field isn’t, and from the rails draw (1) he maps to get the run of the race on the leader’s back. Begood Toya Mother beat Age of Chivalry in that Group 1 and therefore must be a chance. He was poor last preparation and his jump-outs didn’t inspire confidence so I can’t be backing him until I see a good performance. Virdine doesn’t want it too wet but he is in form winning here last start and could fill the minor placings.
Recommended bet: #8 Bumper Blast each way at $5.50.
Race 8: PB Lawrence Stakes, Group 2, WFA, 1400 metres
Spring is in the air as some of the superstars of the turf return. They’ll go along at a quick enough clip with Streets of Avalon, Sircconi and Savatiano settling on-speed. I’m happy to be with team Godolphin in the feature. Savatiano was excellent early in her last preparation when winning the Millie Fox Stakes by nearly three lengths on a soft seven – conditions that will be like this affair on Saturday. She was then only beaten 2.5 lengths to I am Excited in the Galaxy at Group 1 level, which reads well for this. Her trial leading into this first-up run was fantastic and she maps to get the run of the race behind a hot speed. I am convinced Cascadian is going to win a big race this spring and he looks over the odds here considering he has a fantastic first-up record (4:2-1-0). He was an impressive winner of the Doncaster Prelude last preparation, before being completely luckless in the Doncaster Handicap at the end of his preparation. If they can run on the wide draw (11) isn’t the worst thing for him and it wouldn’t surprise to see him in the finish. Mystic Journey won this race last year and although she has bigger fish to fry, the conditions suit here. She has a fantastic first-up record (5:3-0-0) and goes very well on a soft track (2:2-0-0). If she has come back in order, she is probably the best horse in the race. Kings Will Dream and Regal Power will be better over longer, but it wouldn’t surprise to see them run good races fresh.
Recommended bet: Each way bets on both #10 Savatiano at $5 and #5 Cascadian at $16.
Race 9: Benchmark 84, handicap, 1400 metres
We end the day with a hot pot at $1.80 who I just can’t have at that price, even though I concede he has stacks of ability. They will go quick enough for the backmarkers to have their chance if the track is playing fairly. I’m happy to be with Wilmot Pass here. The Freedman Gelding has been terrific in his last two runs. Two-back down the straight at Flemington, he beat Rock Prophet and Sansom in a barnstorming finish, before never seeing daylight last start at the Valley in a race he simply would have won if he had any luck. He gets a long way back anyway so the wide gate (14) isn’t too much of an issue. He will be flashing home late. Showmanship is the clear danger. He has been well found at the $1.80 but for good reason considering he has destroyed everything in his way in Western Australia. I just can’t dive in at the skinny quote considering it’s his first time around Caulfield and he draws a tricky gate (9). O’tauto was excellent first-up last preparation and goes well on a soft track. He will need a lot of luck from the inside gate (2) but has the ability to be in the finish. Include Junipal and El Questro in the final leg of the quaddie.
Recommended bet: #14 Wilmot Pass each way at $8.50.
Race 3, #3 Acting
Race 7, #8 Bumper Blast
Race 6, #2 River Night