Almanac Racing: Derby Day 2010

The odd thing about Derby Day is that the so-called (and, since 1855, time-honoured)signature race is rarely the highlight of a star-studded programme. Such is again the case this Saturday at Flemington where the “support” card overwhelms the 3 yr old’s “Blue Riband”.

On a day littered with Group races, it seems odd that the Salinger (R8, 1200m) is still “only” Gr2. It has been much anticipated as a Carnival highlight but, unfortunately, neither Hay List nor Black Caviar have accepted, leaving “the best of the rest” to scamper down the straight. Early markets confirm Catapult (3) as the one to beat, but expect sentimental support for specialist All Silent (2) and plenty of money for Swift Alliance (5). In an open race, I’ll tip Set For Fame (8) to beat the fav.

One race to have rightly received a Group One upgrade in recent years is the mile for mares known now as the Myer Classic (R7, 1600m). A fit Typhoon Tracy should have their measure, but, if conditions allow, Hot Danish (1) and Palacio de Cristal (5) will be motoring home. Yosei (12) has claims with her featherweight and watch the 3 if it is wet.

The former Hotham Handicap (R2, Gr3, 2500m) has a chequered history, for years renowned as a Melbourne Cup “blow” to conclude the Derby Day fixture, and, as such, sometimes seen as a glorified trial. This year’s model has merit as several of these are competing to get a run on Tuesday. Alcopop looks poorly weighted and Linton won’t want much rain. “The Pride of Warrnambool”, Moudre (8), has been up forever but was great at Geelong and can salute to get a ticket for the big dance.

Buried amongst the glittering prizes is the former Ascot Vale Stakes, for years run on Craiglee day and now repositioned as the Coolmore (R4,Gr1, 1200m). It’s a good edition this year and I’ll be backing Pressday (2) to win first-up.

Public interest will focus on the Mackinnon Stakes (R5, Gr1, 2000m) in which So You Think has been installed at long odds-on. Bart’s hospitalization and his Champ’s push towards Tuesday have created a media frenzy.  Is the Colt dour enough for the 2 miles? Will he have lost his zip for this? Is a wet track a worry? Or is he just too damned good? Bet against a champ at your peril. I’ll watch with (no financial) interest.

Another annual highlight is the Carbine Club Stakes (R1, Gr3, 1600m) which is to be run at 1110am! The VRC has managed to keep Saturday to 9 races (good policy) but have spread the card over one hour more than Bendigo used on Wednesday for its 10 race bumper Cup Day. Hence many punters will overlook this tough little opener. Mr Chard was very impressive at Caulfield so, despite a weight disadvantage, I’ll be cheering him home for the Dean Lawson stable.

Given that it is Derby Day, I guess I should give some attention to the 3 year olds, but both genders are unimpressive this season.

The fillies have their Oaks prelude in the Wakeful Stakes (R3, Gr2, 2000m). Often a good race, this version is poor. A pfennig E/W Claire Lindop’s No20 if you must.

The colts have also failed to impress me this prep and I’ll ignore The Derby (R6, Gr1, 2500m).

Authorities have chosen to conclude Saturday’s meeting with a Gr3, 1400m race, perhaps acknowledging the likely state of their patrons and a hope to “drip” them out the gate, but also thus providing punters with a poor Quaddy anchor. Mind you, this is not a good day to take one in my opinion. We’re Gonna Rock (12) should avenge the Toorak loss, if the track’s racing fairly.

But that’s the conundrum. Always vital to a punter, this week the most important “rider” is to BEWARE THE WEATHER AND TRACK.  Now – 8pm Thursday – it is impossible to gauge the conditions. Some forecast 2 inches of rain by race time – that’d mean a shifting and chopping surface. Right now it is probably Good/Fast! Some weather reports have the deluge delayed! The best advice is to do form on Saturday morning, monitor conditions – TVN are excellent – and be prepared to comply with conditions.

Derby Day was most unpleasant for me on the Turfbet bag last year. Its promotion as a fashion “place to be” has led to a boorish, bogan day where a bad suit, a strappy frock and some smuggled grog creates a most repulsive scenario.

I used to love this day. I hope it is a beauty. But I can’t wait to get out of there.

Good luck. I’ll be on the bag in the main ring throughout the Carnival.


  1. I guess it is wimpy not to give some Derby comment. The best lead-up races have always been the Norman Robinson from Caulfield and the Vase from the Valley. Retrieve and Rekindled Interest won these convincingly. Digital Fortress was best of the rest at the Heath. I sacked Rekindled Interest one run early and am sooking! His dam, Budge, is by the great Rainbow Quest, a horse good enough to even carry my money to an Arc win. The one to beat.

  2. Crio Dean was spruiking Skilled in the 1st Typhoon Tracey as a cert and Brazillian Waltz as good e/w value in the 3rd. Sound Journey finally turned up last week so had a good result. Keep in eye out for the connections other horse Conquering Journey whcih ahd won 4 from 5 country starts before being bitten by a white tip spider which put it out for 6 months. Back in training with Peter Moody but probaly watch it’s first run

  3. mark freeman says

    Crio the Salinger was a group 1 for eons, but a couple of years ago the VRC basically swapped the group 1 status with the group 2 six furlonger from Stakes day, renaming it the Patinack Farm Classic. In 2008 when Hot Danish won it was the first year of its downgrade to group 2 status.

    So the highlight-of-spring clash bw Hay List and Black Caviar was always going to be next Saturday in the group 1, but now it looks like Hay List has cut itself and may not be right for it.

    Tomorrow: Moudre, Moudre, Moudre all day. Got on early and often for tomorrow ($6.50) and for the cup ($81 still on Weds, come in to 60s now). If he manages to extricate himself from the fence tomorrow and win, he’ll go into the cup possibly on a bog, on the up, and with 51kgs on his back – big chance.

    Typhoon the only anchor, and the only other bet I’ve had is 2 bucks eachway on a Derby runner with 2 starts on heavy for 2 wins – LuckyI’mbarefoot – at 200-1!

    Derby is one major I can’t take seriously (as you can see from bet!). It’s always a raffle over that distance at this time of year.

    Good punting.

  4. Absolutely right mate. The reshuffle has done my head in over the last few years…next week’s race was to be the showpiece.

  5. Track rating?

  6. I reckon today is a bet race by race day as the conditions could change dramatically.
    Start off assuming Track Good and reassess when the rain comes.

    One more chance Alcopop today and think Star Witness is the best bet of the day at this stage (great trial v Hay List during the week).

    So You Think is a risk today as they are going to try and get him to settle and i just can’t see it happening especially given that there appears to be little pace in the race. I can see SYT pulling his head off and Shocking coming over the top (horses for courses!).

  7. Didn’t think Maluckyday would go any good in the wet being out of Natalie Wood (by Yachtie).

  8. mark freeman says

    Love your work Budge on both fronts – best bet and the above assertion on Maluckyday.

    Crio you’d have serious backache hauling that 10-tonne bag from the course yesterday…

  9. We only just won. Lost on Whitefriars and chopped out on the Derby. Good money in the ring though.
    Watched your mate Al for a while yesterday. Hardly put up his odds as he was looking for a camera all the time. there’s a precious ego firing there.
    Lunch at the Clyde mate?

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