While a start in the Stradbroke Handicap is unlikely for Peter Moody’s superstar sprinter Black Caviar, one of the Victorian trainer’s lesser-known runners Curtana has earned a shot at the $1 million showdown following a successful start at Caulfield on Saturday.
Three-year-old Exceed And Excel filly Curtana kept Moody’s Stradbroke hopes alive as she held on for a gritty victory in the $70,000 Moorabbin Steel Plate (1000m) on the weekend.
Group 1 placed when second to Star Witness in the Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington last Derby Day, Curtana won her next start at stakes level taking out the Listed Gucci Stakes (1200m) on Crown Oaks Day in November.
First-up for the season on Saturday, Curtana ($3.40F) and leading apprentice jockey Jake Noonan combined to beat home a quality field in the Moorabbin Steel Plate crossing a half-neck in front of the Robert Smerdon-trained Breitling ($3.90) while General Truce ($4.80) was a close third.
The disappointment of the race was Moshe, the full-brother to Black Caviar, coming in sixth.
“She’s a Group One performer and we would have loved to have had her back for the autumn in Sydney, but there is no rush,” Moody said after Saturday’s success.
“The temptation was there to take her to the Gold Coast next Saturday and run her in the Guineas (Group 3) but we decided to keep her at home for this race.
“She’s still big in condition and raced a bit too fresh for her own good today but managed to win.”
Curtana has now won four of her eight starts for over $330,000 in career prize money.
Moody has named the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) on June 11 at Eagle Farm as the primary winter target for Curtana.
“There’s a nice three-year-old race at Doomben for her in three weeks (Group 3 Doomben Roses May 21) and she’ll go into the Stradbroke at probably her fourth run in and the 1400 metres looks ideal for her.”
Queensland’s richest race during the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival, the 2011 AAMI Stradbroke Handicap attracted 147 early entries last week.
Along with Black Caviar and Curtana, Moody also has Hinchinbrook nominated.
Despite Moody stating Black Caviar is an improbable starter in the Stradbroke, the five-time Group 1 winning mare leads the early betting at $3.20 followed by Hay List ($6) and Wyong-based galloper Sincero ($6.50).
Hinchinbrook is rated a $17 shot while Curtana is a $34 roughie in the markets.
“She’s certainly got a class factor about her, being Group One-placed and a stakeswinner, so I think that augurs well for her,” Moody said of Curtana.