It has been a long time between drinks for Con Karakatsanis’ seven-year-old Black Piranha, but the Rosehill-based trainer has another $1 million mission in his sights for the veteran galloper.
Clang gelding Black Piranha has not raced since finishing ninth to star colt Playing God in the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot in early December last year.
Black Piranha is still in the spelling paddock and while he is yet to resume, Con Karakatsanis is setting his sights high for his return.
Karakatsanis has plans to send Black Piranha up to Queensland for the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival where the prestigious $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm is the main aim.
The last time Black Piranha was in the winner’s circle was June last year when he overcame a wide barrier 12 draw to take out the 2010 Stradbroke Handicap in a gritty victory over classy mare Melito.
It was his second Stradbroke Handicap win having also saluted in the 2009 edition ahead of Danleigh making Black Piranha just the seventh horse to win back-to-back Stradbrokes.
Now he will attempt to enter the history books and score victory in Brisbane’s richest race for an unprecedented third time.
“Our aim is the Straddy,” Karakatsanis said.
To date Black Piranha has had 53 career starts that have produced just eight wins and 16 minor placings, the dual Stradbroke victories pushing his total earnings to over $2.5 million.
Facing a tough test first-up, Black Piranha is scheduled to return to the track for the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) next month where a clash with sprint queen Black Caviar is on the cards.
“He’s on target,” Karakatsanis said of Black Piranha’s Brisbane campaign.
“He’s probably going to have to run into Black Caviar in Brisbane but that’s life.”
Peter Moody’s superlative mare Black Caviar was recently rated the best thoroughbred in the world for her performances over the past six months which have included five consecutive Group 1 wins.
In the BTC Cup at Doomben on May 14, she will attempt to add an incredible 13th victory to her unbeaten streak.
Last week Black Piranha ran sixth in the 900m barrier trial at Rosehill with jockey Brenton Avdulla aboard.
“He had an easy trial on Tuesday (April 12) and he went around lovely,” Karakatsanis said.
“Brenton Avdulla rode him and said he felt great and he loved it.
“He’s still a fair way off being where I want him because it’s still three weeks away from his first-up run in Brisbane, but he showed to me he is on his way to where I want him to be.
“Since that trial on Tuesday he’s starting to switch on and it won’t take much to get him back where I want him fitness wise.”
As well as the BTC Cup the battle of the Blacks could continue with Caviar and Piranha both possible starters in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on May 28.
“If she (Black Caviar) beats him first-up and in the 10,000 that’s life,” Karakatsanis said.
“The Straddy is the one we want.”
Another runner aiming at a spot in the Stradbroke Handicap field, if not this year then next, is Noel Doyle’s Gold Coast gelding Celtic Dancer.
The Choisir three-year-old enjoyed a promising Stradbroke trial last Saturday at Doomben, coming within a quarter of a length of winning the $100,000 Listed B.R.C. Queensland Day (1350m) when third behind Steel Zip.
Although fighting on bravely, the third place finish may not be enough for Doyle to nominate Celtic Dancer for the Stradbroke.
“At this stage he’s heading to the Queensland Guineas,” Doyle said.
“I’ll throw in a nomination for the Stradbroke which is on the same day but I honestly believe he’ll be a Stradbroke chance next year.”