Oaks & Stakes Day Preview

Kingston Town Classic winner Arcadia Queen set to fly in The Golden Eagle
Arcadia Queen is my bet of the carnival…. give the magical mare from WA strength! (Photo: racenet)

The Melbourne Cup threw up the spectacular, the unmissable, the controversial and unfortunately, the sadness of a another race day fatality.

Irish raider and Caulfield Cup runner-up Anthony Van Dyck broke down at the 300m mark, resulting in a fractured fetlock that could not be treated and the horse was euthanised within a couple of hours of the race.

Calls will be made to find out what exactly is going on with the Melbourne Cup and the death of too many horses, almost exclusively international visitors.
It’s an issue that will not go away and one that horse racing should attack head on. It’s unacceptable to be losing horses lives for the sake of prize money and glory.
In six of the past eight Cups, a horse has not made it to the finish line – either literally or figuratively – meaning they never made it back to their stable. There are enough commonalities to the deaths of multiple horses in the Melbourne Cup to make some changes.

We need to, otherwise our kids’ kids will no longer consume the Melbourne Cup as the race that stops a nation. It will be the race that regularly ends the life of a race horse.

Another negative on a largely great day, champion hoop Kerrin McEvoy was fined $50,000 and suspended for 13 meetings for excessive use of the whip after striking Tiger Moth eight times more than allowed. To many in the racing world, whip use is a non-issue as the whip does nothing more than persuade the horse to run to its optimum, but to the wider community the idea of smacking a horse with a whip is a pretty ugly scene. To be frank, without the crowds on course the sounds of whips cracking on a horses rump is pretty darn vicious – especially to the uninitiated.

Now, onto the good part.

Twilight Payment put forth a momentous staying performance thanks to masterful tactics from 27-year-old Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien which were executed to perfection by Melbourne Cup debutant Jye McNeil.
The eight-year-old (Aussie time) son of Teofilo strode along at the head of the field and never gave anything a chance as fellow Irish contender Tiger Moth pursued gamely but could never get within striking distance.
Prince of Arran ran a luckless third, meaning his three Cup visits have resulted in three placings whilst Kiwi The Chosen One and newcomer Persan rounded out the top five in another year of international domination of our great race.

Today, Cup week rolls on…

Thursday is always Oaks Day, probably the lowest profile day of the monster week of racing but we end the week with a huge day of racing which is for the sport’s purists.
Stakes Day provides us with the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes and is highlighted by two massive Group 1’s with the $2,000,000 Mackinnon Stakes and $1,500,000 Darley Sprint Classic.

Backing a winner on Cup day means one thing. We’re playing with theirs for Oaks Day, let’s hope we can continue to kick just like Twilight Payment did.

KENNEDY OAKS (Race 8, 2500m, Group 1, $1,000,000)
1 Montefilia – David Payne, Hugh Bowman $1.80
A dual Group 1-winning filly who deserves favouritism. She’s a winner on good, soft and heavy ground so looks bomb-proof from that perspective.
She’s been given a beautiful barrier (5) so should be able to lob into a more handy position than previous starts and she has to be the one to beat.

2 Personal – Tom Dabernig & Ben Hayes, Damien Oliver $5.75
I like this filly. The race was there to be won in the Wakeful when Victoria Quay got the better of her but perhaps it was the run she needed going into a 2500m Oaks.
Has the race experience and the top jock (D Oliver) when it comes to staying races.

7 Tyche Goddess – Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young, Kerrin McEvoy $17
I backed her last week at 70/1 and she gave me a great sight, running third to Victoria Quay and Personal. She was on speed and toughed out that race in excellent fashion. K McEvoy – like Damien Oliver – is a masterful staying jockey and the Busuttin-Young team is airborne.

9 Star of Eden – Mike Moroney, Billy Egan $27
An Australian-bred maiden filly who trainer Mike Moroney gave a push for in the Ethereal Stakes and she performed well, running third.
From a top yard and should cop the staying trip. Each way blowout hope.

1 Tyche Goddess $17
2 Personal $5.75
3 Montefilia $1.80
4 Star of Eden $27

Oaks Day Quaddie;
Leg 1: 3, 5, 7, 11
Leg 2: 2, 4, 5, 8, 13
Leg 3: 1, 2, 7, 9
Leg 4: 4, 6, 9, 10, 16

Stakes Day is a pure day of racing. Derby Day is the glitzy opening of the spring carnival, Cup day is about the enormity of our great race and everything that goes with it whilst Oaks Day can often be more understated.
Stakes Day give us two of the premium racing events of the spring.
A $2m Group 1 that brings together a variety of contenders. Last year we saw international raider Magic Wand drop back from the 3200m of the Melbourne Cup to the 2000m of a Mackinnon Stakes and claim a memorable victory.
A couple of quality mares head this year’s Stakes field, one from West Australia and one from New Zealand.
The Darley Sprint provides us with a brilliant crop of speed demons. 10 quality sprinters with a combined earnings of more than $25 million. Nature Strip produced perhaps the run of the spring in last year’s event, smashing a quality field for an all-the-way win.
There are more than a few nice betting prospects on Stakes Day to round out a big, albeit incredibly unique, 2020 spring carnvial.

Let’s sniff out a few more winners…

DARLEY SPRINT CLASSIC (Race Six, 1200m, Group 1, $1,500,000)
2 Nature Strip – Chris Waller, Hugh Bowman $4.40
Things have gone awry this spring but his Everest run was better than first look. His win in this race last year was breathtaking and hey may get things slightly easier up front here. Never doubt C Waller plus Hugh Bowman jumps on with James McDonald unavailable. Good chance, but I’d like better than 4/1 to back him.

3 Bivouac – James Cummings, Glen Boss $3.80
An excellent under the radar 2nd in The Everest in a race which was all about the winner and rightly so.
Should reach peak fitness for this with Glen Boss hoping to replicate his dominant Newmarket victory up the Flemington straight.
This could be the exclamation mark on a talented and regally bred future stallion for Godolphin. Top pick.

4 Hey Doc – Tony & Calvin McEvoy, Luke Currie $10
Have to leave this grand warrior in the mix, but I do feel this lot will be a touch too sharp. Is 5 from 11 over the six furlongs and looked the winner a long way from home in the Manikato Stakes, winning that race for a second time. A tenacious big horse who will give you a sight from close to the speed. Just think he gets done for zip late.

5 Graff – Danny O’Brien, Damian Lane $17
Cannot discount this horse on the back of his debut run for Danny O’Brien. Damien Oliver suggested he be ridden cold and that plan worked brilliantly with Graff landing a barnstorming win over the 1000m at Caulfield. This is a significant step up but any improvement on the first-up run could see him in the mix should the tempo be warm.

9 Libertini – Anthony Cummings, Damien Oliver $7
Looked a potential freak as a younger filly before treading water for a while. Was wide in The Everest so happy to forgive but did give Classique Legend a beating in the lead up.
Five from six on a good track and can mix it with these boys up the straight. Goes into the numbers for mine.

1 Bivouac $3.80
2 Libertini $7
3 Nature Strip $4.40
4 Graff $17 / Hey Doc $10

SEPPELTS MACKINNON STAKES (Group 1, 2000m, $2,000,000)
9 Arcadia Queen – Grant & Alana Williams, Luke Currie $3.10
The stars align for the gun mare from the west with no real and logical winning threat to Arcadia Queen in the 2020 Mackinnon Stakes.
Of course, she can be beaten, and I am talking about a $3 pop and not a $1.40 job but it’s really hard to see her going under with at least even luck.
William Pike departs Victoria but Luke Currie has ridden more than enough big races.
Consider this, her nearest rival in the market is a Kiwi mare who went home because things were going poorly, won two races on bottomless tracks in NZ before deciding to come back for another go at this race. Hardly screams back me at 4/1.
Anything else is a blowout, including Mugatoo and Mr Quickie who have competed strongly in recent Group 1’s.

1 Arcadia Queen $3.10
2 Dalasan $14
3 Mirage Dancer $26
4 Skyward $23

Stakes Day best bets;
2/2 Deep Speed $3.70
3/6 Bold Star $8
5/2 Pondus $3.20 & 5/4 Chapada $8
6/3 Bivouac $3.70
8/9 Arcadia Queen $3.10
9/11 Meteorite $3.80

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