Apr 192018

The Geographically Challenged SYDNEY OAKS

by Darcy “Dingo” MacPhee

Well folks I finally made it back home from the Equinics, via the Florida Derby. My attempt to win enough cash in Florida to purchase a decent flight home was an abject failure. Just goes to show who the real brains in the shi…., sorry, I mean tipping department is, and that’s me old mate Clarence. With barely enough scratch left in my skyrocket* to afford a coke and a sandwich, I was consigned back to Aussieland as 2nd class baggage (thanks Roys), and the Guam layover of 4 hours was extended to 4 days when the old Antonov’s jet engines swallowed a flock of gooney birds on take off and had to do an emergency return landing for repairs. We finally got back in the air (somewhat reluctantly in my case) and headed down under, landing in Sydney some 14 hours later.

On, alighting at the cargo hangar and having to walk over a mile back to the main terminal, I was lucky enough to run into an old mate Percy. I say lucky in that I saw him before he saw me and could duck off into the men’s room. Percy the old reprobate had owed me a few thousand since last Melbourne Cup when I shared Clarence’s trifecta selection with him on the basis of a 20% share of his winnings, and he had been dodging me ever since. Luckily I caught him in one of his flush moments and I managed to collect from him, as well as ascertain that some numbnut had transferred the Sydney Oaks from it’s home in Sydney, NSW down to their main rival city in Melbourne Victoria. Seems the race had to be deferred a week to allow the runners to be transferred to the new location. With my skyrocket now full of reddies, I thought well here is a chance to have some fun down south. A quick call to the BTB main office got me the job of reporting on the race (thanks to JB Commish for relinquishing his claim on reporting it). So here I am in Melbourne trying to see how many of these intrepid fillies have managed to find their way here for Saturday’s big race.

So, here I am sitting in a Lygon Street cafe, sipping a cup of the best Italian coffee and nibbling some biscotti as I go through the form for the race. This race is highly unusual in that it is only the 4th 2400 meter (12 furlong) race of the year for 3 yo’s and only the 2nd for Fillies. Thus, only 14 3 yo fillies have ever gone the distance prior to the race and of those 14 only 1 is entered Saturday – Final Realm who happened to win that race (NZ Oaks on March 10th). Of the remaining 13 entrants none have gone further 1900 meters (9.5 furlongs), with 1 runner Peace Heart not even tried 2 turns yet. Another glaring statistic is that not one of these 14 girls has ever managed a triple digit speed, so based on the above most of you would suggest that this is probably the weakest field to contest this major race in decades, and, I would have to agree with you. However, that being said, with so many runners unknown at the very trying 2400 meters it is also probably the most difficult race in decades to find the winner (if you discount the favorite of course).If I ever needed Clarence and his special tipping ways it would be trying to sort out this field into some semblence of those with realistic chances and the rest, but I will give it my best go ….

Z Kentucky
9/2 Comes into the race as clear pre-post favorite on the back of her NZ Oaks win last start over this distance. Not only did she win that race, but won it convincingly, closing from well back to win by nearly 4 lengths going away. With a lifetime record of 5 wins from 6 starts (4 from 5 around 2 turns), she screams CLASS CLASS CLASS! As stated in my preamble none of these starters have ever posted a triple digit, but this girl would have easily in the NZ Oaks if her jock Zack Graves hadn’t had her under a strangle hold as she coasted home. Seems to select herself as the winner here and is ripe for the picking at 9/2.
A Craig
17/1 Trainer Lightng99 is producing 6 starters for this race, I am assuming this is a quantity over quality strategy to win this prestigous Grade 1. His first runner to be loaded in the gate is this well bred Rock of Gibralter Filly, unfortunately her breeding seems to be the only thing positive about her chances. She has won 3 of 7 as a 2yo. It took her 4 starts to break her Maiden, then she managed back to back wins by winning at her 1st try around 2 turns for an allowance success, before a struggling 3rd in a slow 80SP in a Grade 3. She did improve 10 speed points to win her last start as a 2yo in a Listed Stakes over 1700 m (8.5 fur.). Her only start as a 3yo was a mediocre 4th in the Grade 1 1800m (9 fur.) Vermont Is 4 Lovers. There are definitely better options available.
T Ace
6/1 This very attractive filly commenced her racing career last September with an MSW debut win over 1300 m (6.5 fur.), before going around 2 turns in her next 2 starts as a 2yo earning a check in both (2nd and 4th). She showed enough promise and SP increase, that for her 3yo debut she was stretched out to 1800 m (9 fur.) and returned to the winners circle with an impressive Allowance NW2L coming from over 10 lengths back after missing the jump to win by 2 hard held in an impressive 98SP. Trainer Redhill was encouraged enough by that run to send her out 7 weeks later in a very soft 1900 m (9.5 fur.) Listed Stakes. Jumping much better this race, she stalked the pace taking over before the turn and walking away with an easy 3 length plus win. Disregard the time as her win was so easy the 3rd horse was over 25 back. Comes in as 2nd Favorite, and is showing some progression up the distance scale, but not for me.
J Diggs
14/1 With 4 wins from 8 lifetime starts (2 of 3 in races of a mile or longer), at first glance it would appear to be a reasonable resume. Unfortunately a closer look reveals that the most horses she has beaten home in a race is 6. In the only 2 races where she has had 7 rivals she finished 5th and 6th, so facing a full field here is definitely going to be something new for her. After a storming finish coming from 10 length last (in a field of 5) to win a Listed Stakes in her 1st start as a 3yo, trainer Gr8white sent her to try a “soft” 7 horse 1600 m (8 fur.) Grade 3. Turned out was a horror race for her finishing more than 10 lengths back in 6th with an SP of 90, while the winner romped home with a 104 SP. Well out of her depth here in a full field of 14 even though most have similar form lines.
D Givins
15/1 There is an old saying lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place, but I think this filly’s trainer is hoping it will strike once (at least). With his 2nd entrant, Lightng99 is looking for a bigger miracle than just a single lightning strike in the right place. Finishing her 5 race 2yo career still a maiden (including a failed Grade 1 attempt), she came out 1st up in 2018 and finally won her MSW in a respectable 91 SP over her 1st attempt at 1800 m. Stretching her out a further 100 m Lightng99 sent her to try an Allowance NW2L, and was pleasantly surprised when she cantered in to a nice win in a 94 SP. It is a BIG leap of faith and Class to go from an allowance win to a Grade 1, but again this applies to most in this field.
P Harzheim
14/1 Entrant number 3 from the Lightng99 Racing Stables, she is one of only 2 runners who have had 9 starts. With only 1 of those as a 3yo being also the only time she has run in the 90′s with an SP of 96 she had race long battle for the lead before easing away over the last 2 furlongs to win by more than a length on the line over 1700 m in a 5 horse Listed Stakes. This was definitely an improvement over her previous runs, but still seems a tad soft for a Grade 1 over 2400 m.
J Ledwith
10/1 Trainer Lightng99 is definitely a race caller’s worst nightmare, not only has he 6 horses running around in the same colors, but also he is causing problems by having MASTERS DREAMERS and MAKERS DREAMS both entered. After her 1st 4 starts I am sure Lightng99 and her owner Alimitos5 thought all their dreams had come true. Winning her 1st 4 starts, she jumped right from her MSW to a Listed Stakes then on to the 1200 m Grade 3 Capital Stakes. Come July last year she made it 4 straight with a fine win in the 1600 m Wet Bikini Stakes. Unfortunately, lightning never struck twice, following those 4 wins, she has tried Grade 1 4 more times without notable success (a 3rd in the Breeders Bowl Juvy the best result). This run of outs culminated with her only run as a 3yo in the 2018 Equinics Mile, where she finished well back in mid field. She will need to find some of her early form to have any chance here, her experience at Grade 1 level may help, but never having gone further than a mile could be an issue.
K Ledwith
7/1 Here we have another from the Lightng99 stables, although she has shown some promise after her debut MSW win 14 months ago, she is yet to greet the judge again in 8 more starts. Many would say that Lightng99 has over reached with this filly, after her debut win she was sent to a Listed Stakes where she ran an even 3rd. Rather than drop her back or even stay at the same level to get her another win or 2 Lightng99 selected to push her up in to Graded class finishing down the track to her stablemate MAKERS DREAMS in the Grade 3 Capital Stakes. She stayed in Graded company on the turf for her next 3 starts getting a Grade 3 2nd place along the way (in her 1st try at 2 turns). Lightng99 then switched her to the main track for her last start as a 2yo, in the 1600 m Grade 3 Reflection Stakes, where a very nice 98 SP gave her 2nd place. Her 1st start as a 3yo was another jump in class to the 1600 m Grade 1 Los Vinegrette Stakes, where she finished 5th but only 2 lengths off the winner. The down point was a drop in SP from her previous start. Lightng99 then finally gave her some class relief, stretching her out to 1900 m in a Listed Stakes. Unfortunately, the extra distance or finally the horses confidence broke and she finished poorly 8 lengths back in 6th with a further drop in SP. Comes into the race as 7/1 3rd favorite, but I really cannot see her finishing top 5. Best form is on Main Surface
V Drosos
10/1 This beautifully presented French bred filly is our least experienced runner, only commencing her career at her Paris home-track with a 1600 m MSW win December 30 last year, with an SP of 80. Shipped across the English Channel to start her 3yo career in Ireland, Mrenforcer set her for a win in an 1800 m Allowance NW2L. A huge plunge had her odds plunge from 16/1 to 6/1 but als it wasnt to be. The plan was to get a lead and go away down the straight, unfortunately 2 other jocks had the same instructions and a 3 way war for the lead ensured. YOUNIS won that battle but it left her open and a stalker had her measure by the top of the straight, with a late closer relegating her to 3rd. Connections then had a new plan, a tilt at a soft Grade 1 downunder, so off they went to try another NW2L Allowance as a warm up race at racing Headquarters (Flemington Vic). Not perturbed by the failure to lead throughout over 1800 m they selected a 1900 m race. This time it all fell into place at the nice odds of 9/2 (backed in from 12/1) and YOUNIS took the lead from the jump breezing along alone with a comfortable 3 length break before going to the line eased down to win by an easy length or so. Shows more upside than most in this field, and certainly is fit and has experience on the track
N Labreche
27/1 The last of Lightng99′s 6 runners, and definitely the least, with only a maiden win from 8 lifetime starts, and never having gone 2 turns, she looks well out of her class. With a lifetime best SP of 84 and really no upsides, any placing better than 14th in this race should be considered a positive result. Outsider of the field at 27/1, this is probably an error, as should be 270/1
T Small
10/1 If SP’s were the be all and the end all of how you select your winners, you would probably go right past this girl. With 2 MSW losses the 2nd of which was her 1st attempt around 2 turns where she lead and was run down late finishing a close 2nd. Based on what trainer Coolk learned from that run and what she was showing in private trials, her next start the jock was given instructions to run to the lead and just let her stretch out in front and make the others catch her. With the race over 1700 m the jock did exactly as instructed getting out to over a 4 length lead at the half way mark, hanging on to win by a half length. The same tactics were used in her next start in a 1700 m Allowance NW2L, this time her lead reached over 5 lengths before just hanging on to win by a head. With not only stable confidence but the horse herself strutting around her 1st 3yo start resulted in her 3rd straight win This time an NW2x Allowance over 1800 m with a big difference, her lead was still increasing at the top of the straight, and instead of fighting to hang on she was eased down at the line to win by over 2 lengths. Her next race was a repeat of the previous giving her a 4th staright win and some Black Type on her resume with a 1900 m Listed Stakes win. Looks to have a good chance of causing an upset IF she can get 2400 m and IF she doesn’t get in a war for the lead with YOUNIS.
F Gossett
8/1 It wouldn’t be a Grade 1 without an entrant from the Super Stables. OMEGA SPEEDMASTER comes here with an impressive 5 from 8 lifetime record. After a rather inauspicious start to her career, breaking her maiden at her 2nd start in a HOT race with only 1 other player owned horse, she was jumped to a Listed Stakes and finished 5th of 8. Things then turned around with a brace of wins in an allowance and listed stakes and more impressive SP’s. She finished her 2yo season with a 1700 m Listed Stakes 2nd but a further increase in SP to 89. As a 3yo she has shown even more improvement, jumping to win a Listed Stakes with a 97 SP but was dropped back to 1600 m. The 1800 m Grade 1 Vermont Is 4 Lovers beckoned Super Stables like a lighthouse in a storm, and with a nice 98 SP she came home over the top of the leaders to win by the barest of margins. Is right in the market and has the form on the board, as with most of the field the biggest question mark is the 2400 m.
S Ledwith
20/1 Another that has the most unlikely of resumes with only 1 win from her 7 starts. She took 3 tries to break her Maiden and has been unable to win an allowance at 4 tries since then. Her best efforts appear to be at a mile with her win and 2 second places. Her only try at further than a mile being 1800 m resulted in her getting beaten by over 10 lengths. This could be the horse that PEACE HEART beats.
L Rigdon
9/1 The last of our 14 runners, comes here with one of the better outlook’s with 2 wins from her 6 lifetimes starts. Starting her career over the sprint distances (as do most 2yo’s) her career began with a close 2nd beaten a head over 1100 m, this was turned around next start when she was stretched out to 1400 m where he racing style of stalking the pace seems to have begun. A final attempt at a single turn in a 1500 m allowance resulted in a mediocre 4th. Her trainer Silversun then jumped her up in distance and class for her final start as a 2yo, taking on the 1800 m Grade 3 Miss Brillo, where she managed a 4th although well beaten by over 6 lengths in an SP of 84. Not perturbed by the loss at 1800 m Silversun sent her out as a 3yo for the first time in an NW3L Allowance at the same distance. ASHANTI QUEEN didn’t let him down, stalking the 2 leaders until the top of the straight, before breezing on by for a 2 length win ina n impressive SP hike of 93. I her last prep before the Oaks, Silversun sent her out in a Listed Stakes again over 1800 m, and although she jumped 3rd stalking the pace she was 3rd at each call and 3rd over the line actually losing ground to the leaders down the lane as her jock could see it was a lost cause and was a clear 3rd. Even after conserving energy her SP was only a tiny fraction under the magic 100 at 99.991. Has the fastest recorded SP of any of the runners, although the favorite is only a smidge slower at 99.455 and set hers at the 2400 m.

This is probably the most difficult race to handicap, with 13 of the 14 runners never having had a try at the race distance, we also only have 3 previous Graded winners entered.

If we look at the favorite’s form prior to her win last start in the NZ Oaks, it doesn’t read much differently to some of our other runners, but I must say it still reads better. FINAL REALM looks to be the standout of this field and is the only runner I could bet on with any confidence

I had Blue back up home in Black Stump, line Clarence’s cage with the form guide to see if we can get his trifecta prediction, and apparently these horses even baffled his bowels as Blue said he wouldn’t land on his perch just kept flying in circles around and around until he fell exhausted into his water bowl. Then he dragged himself out fluffed his damp feathers whistled a few bars of Kate Miller-Heidke’s song “Are You F*cking Kidding Me” before jumping onto his perch and blurting out the following trifecta tips.

No1. Final Realm – Banker

No 9. Younis

No 11. Saxon Maiden

No 12. Omega Speedmaster

No 14 Ashanti Queen

Cheers and good luck to all the runners!

Darcy “Dingo” MacPhee

*editors note scratch in skyrocket = money in my pocket

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  One Response to “Can These Fillies Find Their Way To The Winning Post In The Sydney Oaks”

  1. hehehehehehe, good stuff dude