Sal’s Derby Day Preview – It’s Christmas Day for Punters

Greetings All,


Wow, does racing know how to shoot itself in the foot!  It is a game with great stories of sentiment and loyalty, most of the time though it is all about winning whether you are in the game or a punter on the outer.  Brae Sokolski’s decision to replace Linda Meech with Mark Zahra as the pilot for Thought of That in the Derby was just that.  The call of sexism is bollocks, these decisions are made regularly in racing.  There was not the same outcry when Jye McNeil was replaced on Kings Will Dream for the Cox Plate after steering him to victory in the Turnbull Stakes.  Luke Nolan is being replaced on Constantinople for the Melbourne Cup after riding him into 4th place in the Caulfield Cup and favouritism for Tuesday.


I just don’t think the call was right.  Upfront I am an unabashed fan of both jockeys and always look at their mounts positively when assessing form.  The logic regarding Group One experience as stated by the owner does not quite stand up for mine.  MZ is 15 for 262 in Group One races, a strike rate just of 5.7%, pretty good and better than the 1 from 23 from LM at 4.3% but not poles apart.  MZ is regularly called on to ride fancied steeds in big races.  Linda has been beating around in the bush circuit for years riding countless winners, however there would be very few of her Group One mounts that have started with odds in single figures.  Her one winner, Plucky Belle, was at $16.  Her strike rate of winning on favourites is outstanding.  She has done the hard yards and deserves her moment to shine in big races.  Thought of That is my Derby selection and, unlike Linda, I hope it wins, just would love her to be the rider, too.  That would be a great story of sentiment.


Back to sexism though.  Many were quick to call it and to say there is not sexism in racing would be ignorant.  Linda Meech and Jamie Kah are riders of the highest quality, their records speak for themselves.  Not all punters believe it, there is great value in following these two and the other girls – odds provided are often overs with the girls on board.  The barriers do need to be broken down, but while they are still there. Make the most of the ignorance.


The Cox Plate meeting had everything except Winx with a memorable contest in the feature won by another mighty mare in Lys Gracieux, the top selection and a filly getting the big one on Friday with Loving Gaby (second pick) taking out the Manikato.  Still couldn’t get a quaddie but an overall positive day.  Thought Fascino got us off to a flyer till the print showed a dead heat, but we did salute alone in the next with Sartorial Splendour – could be a beauty if he can settle.  The Vase was a good watch, Soul Patch and Moonlight Maid staking their claims on the classics.  Was justifiably worried about the internationals in the MV Cup which was run at a farcical tempo – D Lane getting plenty of love, not from me for that ride on Humidor.  Then another international knocking us over in the Crystal Mile.  Everyone got out in “get out” with Amangiri delivering in a very tough performance.


Fabulous Flemington


While V’landys is doing everything he can to disrupt, Derby Day remains the best day on the racing calendar.  A shame a few have packed it in for the spring but plenty of quality left with full card of group racing.  Derby Day is a day to watch for patterns early as we often see leader bias. The other massive factor will be the weather with up to 15mm predicted which will not suit some of the dry trackers.


Race 1 – Linlithgow Stakes (G2, 1200m, HCP)


What an opener – the whole joint was on The Bull last year and might be on Zoutori (4) in this renewal.  Was magnificent just going down to Sunlight and Santa Ana Lane in the Gilgai and will be hard to beat.  Some concern about the weight relative to others.  Especially Order of Command (6), great record down the straight and Oliver is 4 from 10 on him.  Renewal (7) comes back to 1200 and will be competitive, Viridine (3) is in good form but failed both starts here.  Like the outside draw.


Selections – 6-4-7-3


Race 2 – Wakeful Stakes (G2, 2000m, Fillies SWP)


The final lead up to the Oaks is an important race to watch.  Going with Vegas Jewel (5) over Flit (1) only due to the 3kg weight swing.  We won’t know patterns this early so they are a risk if there is leader bias.  Putting in Tisane (7) to cover that possibility, well drawn and runs on speed and looking for a better showing from Miami Bound (2) back against her own sex.


Selections – 5-1-7-2


Race 3 – Carbine Club Stakes (G3, 1600m, 3yo SWP)


Coming off good performances in the Caulfield Guineas has Dalasan (1) and Groundswell (2) well fancied here.  This race is not usually contested by many guineas horses who have run their grand final.  Trust these trainers and expect them both to perform.  The race is often won by progressive types and Kavalmo (11) might fit the bill, last start winner at Wyong and CJ Waller’s places them well.  Don’t like the wide gate but Hilo (7) is in form and up to this.


Selections – 1-2-11-7


Race 4 – Hotham Stakes (G3, 2500m, HCP)


The last golden ticket into the Melbourne Cup is up for grabs and, with the attrition rate for the Cup, we could see a few scratchings as some of these are promoted into the field.  The Chosen One (8) running 9th in a Caulfield Cup after a win in the Herbert Power can run over the top here if we get pace in the race as expected from Haky (3) and Hush Writer (4)Downdraft (1) was well supported in the MV Cup and will be better for the run and reckon Haky (3) might stick on.  Carif (13) second in the Metropolitan is good enough for this and on the minimum weight.

Selections – 8-1-3-13


Race 5 – Empire Rose Stakes (G1, 1600m, Fillies & Mares WFA)


The classic WFA contest for the girls kicks off the Group One races. We are missing the intrigue of a filly running this year.  What we do have is the second best horse in NZ taking on the best local mares.  Melody Belle (2) could be the one and keeping her safe, but there are a couple of locals that I am keener on.  Pohutukawa (9) is racing well and looks set for this and Invincibella (1) will appreciate not having to give weight to her rivals.  Doesn’t end there –Princess Jenni (7) has a Group One victory and is next in line.  And I can’t quite jump off Fidelia (15).


Selections – 9-1-2-7


Race 6 – Coolmore Stud Stakes (G1, 1200m, 3yo SW)


Reckon this one is heading north!  Hard to go past Bivouac (3) – was beaten by the ride last week and would have gone very close if he had got out.  The one concern being first time down the straight, Microphone (1) has no such issues being 2 from 2 and should be primed 2nd up.  D Oliver goes on Libertini (12) providing experience down the straight and Cosmic Force (5) does not run a bad race.  Hard to leave out Exceedance (6) but you can’t have them all.


Selections – 2-1-12-5


Race 7 – Victoria Derby (G1, 2500m, 3yo SW)


The perennial question in the Derby, is it won by the best stayer or will class prevail?  No doubt the top three in the market are loaded with class, the one who is most likely to stay the trip on pedigree is Thought of That (3).  Sired by So You think who ran 4th in the Arc and 3rd in a Melbourne Cup when stretched out to a mile and half or more.  Pierro was never tested beyond the Cox Plate distance so his lad Shadow Hero (1) has a query, can’t knock Castelvecchio form though.  Shamus Award who provided for Soul Patch (2) to be born was only successful over 2000m as a lightweight 3yo in a Cox Plate, by the same token he certainly looked a staying prospect last week.  On form they are the obvious, however not completely discounting a few of the B-graders who are in form and stoutly bred – they include Warning (4), Southern Moon (10) and Relucent (4) and left out a couple who are drawn poorly.


Selections – 3-1-2-10-4-11


Race 8 – Cantala Stakes (G1, 1600m, HCP)


A big handicap find the winner and it should pay well!  I go back to Cup Day last year when the heavens opened up and Fifty Stars (3) ploughed through the heavy track to record a good win.  More quality against him here but if the rain comes he has a great record here and in the wet.  Night’s Watch (8) was a horror watch in the Toorak but still almost claimed it, reproduces that run and he will be hard to beat.  Star of the Seas (14) was terrific in the Epsom and looks well weighted here and last year’s winner Best of Days (1) gets top weight but looks primed for this after a great run last week.  Chances do not end there – good luck!


Selections – 3-8-14-1


Race 9 – Begonia Belle (G3, 1100m, Mares SWP)


The mares fly down the straight to close the day and another open affair, so much will depend on the state of the track and which side of the track is favoured.  Thinking it will at least be slow by start time and that the outside will provide better going so happy to be on Pippie (4) despite the failure last start.  Going with the Northwood Plume form to fill the rest with Sweet Scandal (11), Manicure (1) and Tofane (2).  If it gets really wet then Miss Iano (10) comes right into favour.


Selections – 4-11-1-2


Northern Exposure


The Golden Eagle (Rosehill, R7, 1500m, 4yo SW) has been put on to take a few away from Flemington.  It certainly has taken a couple of jockeys.  Not sure the race has the depth desired but $7.5m makes it a keen contest.  Going with Kolding (3) from Arcadia Queen (15) but would really love to see The Inevitable (4) get up.  Then they kept some sprinters away with the Redzel Stakes (Rosehill, R8, 1300m, SWP),  reckon GSOB gets the win with either Trekking (2) or Deprive (6), swinging to the latter just on weights.


Quaddie Time


The two 3yo races give us a chance to skinny down, but I reckon there are a couple even in those races that could be quaddie killers.  So we are taking a two quaddie strategy in this week.  Quaddie One will be fattened up in those legs but we will just come home with Pippie.  The second will stick to the fancied runners in those legs but take a couple more in the last.  It’s Derby Day so we might spend a bit more too.


Quaddie One


Leg 1 – 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 12, 15

Leg 2 – 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 11

Leg 3 – 1, 3, 8, 11, 12, 14

Leg 4 – 4


252 Combinations, a $20 investment will return 7.9% of the dividend.


Quaddie Two


Leg 1 – 1, 2, 5, 6, 12

Leg 2 – 1, 2, 3

Leg 3 – 1, 3, 8, 14

Leg 4 – 1, 2, 4, 11


240 Combinations, a $20 investment will return 8.33% of the dividend.


Go Thought of That, Go Linda!


Cheers, Sal



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