Saturday’s Gold Coast meeting could be the final career run for Roger Milne’s Group 1 winning Toowoomba galloper Captain Sonador who has been nominated for two of the day’s stakes races.
Shamardal four-year-old Captain Sonador, who claimed an upset victory in the Epsom Handicap last year, has been entered for both the $300,000 Group 2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) and the $175,000 Listed Prime Minister’s Cup (1300m) with Milne confirming he would accept for the PM’s Cup out of the two.
Captain Sonador didn’t break his maiden status until 11 runs into his career when he eventually claimed a narrow half-neck win in a 1350m handicap as a two-year-old at Doomben in July of 2009.
Group 1 placed during the autumn of last year, Captain Sonador hit the headlines finishing within a length away third to Shoot Out in the 2010 Randwick Guineas.
During his spring campaign, Captain Sonador ran in three Group 1 races winning the Epsom Handicap before finishing seventh to So You Think in the Cox Plate and a disappointing 13th to Wall Street in the Emirates Stakes.
Returning to the track in January of this year, Captain Sonador enjoyed a first-up victory in the Listed Goldmarket Handicap (1300m) at the Gold Coast before finishing a game third just over a half-length from fellow Toowoomba galloper Bold Glance in the Magic Millions Cup.
His latest three runs have produced nothing, including his last start when failing to beat home any of his 16 rivals in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) on a heavy track at Randwick on April 16.
Milne dismissed the Doncaster Mile as a true indication of where Captain Sonador was at or what he was still capable of.
“It was a non-event,” he said.
“He travelled well until he was asked to let down but he couldn’t let down in the going.
“Luke (Nolen – jockey) said he didn’t want to knock him about in case he was going to run in the All-Aged Stakes.
“I thought about the All-Aged but gave it a miss when the track was wet again.”
Prior to the Doncaster, Captain Sonador was not disgraced when three lengths away eighth to Rangirangdoo in the George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill.
“I thought his run was good in the George Ryder and it was just the heavy track why he ran so bad in the Doncaster,” Milne said.
Originally Milne had plans to start Captain Sonador twice more at elite level in the Doomben 10,000 and Stradbroke Handicap back home in Queensland during the Brisbane Winter Carnival before retiring for a career at Raheen Stud near Warwick.
However, the entire’s Doncaster failure saw a campaign overhaul with Captain Sonador’s future awaiting his performance at the Gold Coast this weekend.
“The owners have decided to give him an extra run during the winter before he goes to stud,” Milne said.
“The jury is out with him as the owners feel he’s been cheating a little.
“They’ve decided to give him this extra run, so long as the track is okay, but if he doesn’t run well this time then he’ll probably be retired straight away.”
Captain Sonador has trackwork scheduled for Thursday, after which Milne will reveal a final verdict on whether the horse will run in the Prime Minister’s Cup.
“I’ll know more on Thursday if he’s running or not,” Milne said.
“If he doesn’t run he’ll start in the BTC Sprint on Saturday week before the 10,000 and Stradbroke.”
The Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) is the first Group 1 feature during the Brisbane Winter Carnival, the May 14 feature at Doomben attracting the country’s top echelon of sprinters lead by Black Caviar.