Wed, Nov 6, 2:35pm by Daryl Curnow
Race: The Crowns Oaks, Race 6, 2500 metres, Group 1
When & Where: 3:40pm, November 7, 2013 @ Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne
Wager With: Sportsbet.com.au, get two bets for the price of one ($100 Max), excludes Victoria.
Colloquially known as ‘Bloke’s Day’, the Crown Oaks has been one of the most popular days in Australian Racing history, with on-track attendances consistently reaching in excess of 70,000.
The premier nine-race card alone would attract a big crowd but the inclusion of ‘Fashions on the Field’ in 1962 skyrocketed the day’s popularity. The Victorian Racing Club introduced the new initiative to draw more women to the racetrack and it has since grown into a world-wide event with celebrity judges such as Eva Longoria and Paris Hilton joining in the festivities.
Fashion aside, the racing features a stellar card with the Crown Oaks being the major highlight. The Group 1 event is for three-year-old fillies and although some find the 2,500 metres a touch too long, we often see a very good horse in the making take it out.
The reason why so many favoured runners do well in the Oaks is because of set-weights. Each filly carries 55.5kg, regardless of their form leading into the event. Over the last several years, the winner has gone on to become a quality racehorse with the likes of Miss Finland, Samantha Miss and most recently, Dear Demi.
2006 winner, Miss Finland, was a champion mare by Redoubte’s Choice who won 11 races and her career earnings stood in excess of $4.5million. Miss Finland took an unusually-successful path to winning the Oaks by the way of the Golden Slipper as a two-year-old – run over a considerably shorter 1,200 metre distance. With that win, she would become the first ever Golden Slipper winner to win the Oaks. Miss Finland would go on to win five more Group 1’s and was named the 2006 Horse of the Year.
Two years later, Samantha Miss, another Redoubte’s Choice filly, would live up to her reputation and score a memorable win. Once again, a less than typical path leading into the Oaks was set out by her trainer Kris Lees where she stepped out in the W.S Cox Plate prior to winning the Oaks. The $1.5 million sales purchase proved her worth in the Cox Plate by running third behind Maldivian, before cleaning up the fillies in the Oaks. She would later make history by being sold to stud for $3.85 million, a record for a broodmare.
Dear Demi, who we saw competing in this year’s Melbourne Cup, won the 2012 Crown Oaks by beating a large field of 15 runners. Guided by Jim Cassidy, the Dehere filly justified her favourite tag by winning with over a length to spare. A traditional lead-up to the Oaks is through the Wakeful Stakes on VRC Derby Day where Dear Demi finished fourth. Since Hollow Bullet achieved the Wakeful-Oaks double in 2004, Serenade Rose, Faint Perfume and Brazilian Pulse have followed the same path.
We see a relatively-small field of 10 this year, with eight runners coming through the Wakeful Stakes on the second of November. The Wakeful is a good form indicator as the fillies generally struggle to see out the 2,500-metre Oaks distance; therefore the horses running on over the 2,000-metre Wakeful journey should be held in high regard for this.
Only the David Payne-trained Quayside and Guy-Walter-trained Zanbagh decided to miss the Wakeful and take easier assignments leading into the Oaks. For Quayside, the Street Cry filly needed to win her last start to guarantee a start in the Oaks, in which she achieved at Rosehill in a Rating 65, 1,900-metre event. A positive for Quayside is that she has run on strongly in the majority of her starts, including a third behind race-rival Arabian Gold. She’s by Street Cry, who is possibly the hottest sire in Australia as we speak.
The other missing Wakeful entrant was Zanbagh, who despite dodging the fancied runners, finds herself well supported in the market at $4.50. The Bernadini filly has had an inconspicuous start to her racing career and is largely a surprise package. Before winning her last two starts at Ballarat, she started as high as an $81 outsider in a three-year-old maiden at Warwick Farm, in which she finished second-to-last. However, a touch of rain and the step-up in distance has seen the once-despised outsider come into Crown Oaks calculations.
Focusing back on the form through the Wakeful, it’s hard to overlook Kirramosa’s last-to-first effort in which she capitalised on a good tempo to launch her attack down the outside of runners. The former kiwi filly, trained by John Sargent at Randwick, has had a lengthy campaign in which she has raced consistently throughout. The daughter of trans-Tasman Group 1 winner Alamosa has gradually stepped up in distance from 1,200 metres to the 2,400 metres that awaits her on Thursday, and she is suggesting the further she goes, the better she’ll get. She has been backed in to a $3.30 favourite after opening at $3.50
The top five runners in the book (May’s Dream, Arabian Gold, Kirramosa, Gypsy Diamond and Solicit), all raced in the Wakeful Stakes and they filled the top five positions. May’s Dream was a short $2.25 favourite for the Wakeful after her good performance for second behind the hot-pot filly Guelph in the 1000 Guineas. That effort warranted favouritism at her next start, but she was unable to sprint with Kirramosa on her outside. Despite succumbing to her Oaks race-rival, May’s Dream has a good chance of turning the tables in the Oaks and is currently quoted at $4.80 after opening at $4.20.
Third in the wakeful was Solicit, who showed great tenacity to fight on gamely in the straight. Another by Irish stallion Street Cry, Solicit’s biggest attribute is the jockey sitting in the saddle. Glen Boss is a top-class jockey and most people know it, and his skill in staying races is world class. He knows exactly when to push the button and horses simply run well for him; you don’t win three consecutive Melbourne Cup’s on luck alone, regardless of the quality of horse.
Co-trainer Mathew Ellerton believes his filly can compete at the highest level, but still needs to learn the ropes.
“She probably hasn’t had the right step up, but she’s a filly with a good future,” Ellerton said.
Fourth in the Wakeful Stakes was Arabian Gold, who after winning the Listed Ethereal Stakes at Caulfield in October, was slightly disappointing and didn’t look to have her usual strong-finishing burst. Earlier in the spring, the David Vandyke-trained filly did her racing in Sydney where she met Guelph twice, finishing second and fourth on those occasions. It would appear those coming through the Ethereal Stakes have been flattened in the Wakeful. This will either toughen them up, or the spelling paddock will be calling.
In fifth was Gypsy Diamond, who won well at Moonee Valley a week earlier with James McDonald aboard. She was sent out a $17 underdog in the Wakeful but ran home strongly and suggested the extra 400 metres will be appreciated.
“From when we started educating her she was always going to be our Oaks filly,” said McDonald.
“John (O’Shea) has set her for one race and she’s peaking at the right time.”
There haven’t been any significant betting moves so far, with Arabian Gold moving in two points to $11 from $13 the only visible market move. At the other end of the market, Tear Gas has remained solid at $51 and Every Faith has drifted to $41 from an earlier quote of $34. The Stawell-trained Melaleuca has been well supported. The Stratum filly has had six starts for only one win but has come in from $26 in to $21.
1. May’s Dream (5), D. Weir, N. Hall, 55.5kg
2. Arabian Gold (1), D. Vandyke, H. Bowman, 55.5kg
3. Kirramosa (10), J. Sargent, N. Rawiller, 55.5kg
4. Gypsy Diamond (8), J. O’Shea, J. McDonald, 55.5kg
5. Solicit (4), M. Ellerton & S. Zahra, G. Boss, 55.5kg
6. Quayside (7), D. Payne, B. Avdulla, 55.5kg
7. Every Faith (9), R. Smerdon, M. Zahra, 55.5kg
8. Zanbagh (2), G. Walter, B. Shinn, 55.5kg
9. Melaleuca (3), T & K. O’Sullivan, B. Prebble, 55.5kg
10. Tear Gas (6), D. O’Brien, C. Williams, 55.5kg
1. May’s Dream, X3122, $4.80, $1.75
2. Arabian Gold, 12414, $11, $3
3. Kirramosa, 41421, $3.30, $1.40
4. Gypsy Diamond, 37615, $8, $2.45
5. Solicit, 11323, $9, $2.60
6. Quayside, 23421, $26, $6
7. Every Faith, 12658, $51, $11
8. Zanbagh, X0311, $4.50, $1.70
9. Melaleuca, 48140, $26, $6
10. Tear Gas, 4619, $51, $12
*A ‘0’ in any previous race means the horse finished 10th or worse.
*An ‘X’ means the horse was spelled or scratched and did not run.
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We’re sticking with the tried and tested formula for the Oaks in which favourites generally do well. We’ve explained how the Wakeful Stakes form usually holds up in the Oaks, therefore our top pick is the John Sargent-trained Kirramosa. Her win last start was impressive and she narrowly missed out the start before at Randwick. She’s getting better the further she goes and Nash Rawiller riding is only a positive.
Solicit is a tough customer who will likely find a forward position. Pace is key to Kirramosa’s chances and Solicit should ensure there is enough speed in the race for the back-markers.
Gypsy Diamond and May’s Dream should both run well but we favour Gypsy Diamond to be running on more prominently down the lengthy Flemington straight.
Quayside is a decent chance at running at place. She continues to run home well and is at a nice each way price.
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