Doomben racegoers will experience a double shot of black in the feature race this Saturday, with dual Stradbroke Handicap winner Black Piranha one of the seven bold challengers accepted to take on sprint queen Black Caviar in the BTC Cup.
Rosehill trainer Con Karakatsanis is not shying away from Peter Moody’s outstanding mare despite the fact that every other horse in the $400,000 Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) field, including his, is likely running for second.
The BTC Cup odds confirm Black Caviar’s dominance, the undefeated champion odds-on at $1.16 to score her 13th straight win, her sixth at elite level.
Clang gelding Black Piranha, a rising eight-year-old, is an $81 roughie in the markets but has plenty of credentials when it comes to cracking the big races in Brissie.
Having earned over $2.5 million in prize money over his 53-start career to date, both of veteran galloper Black Piranha’s Group 1 wins have been in Queensland’s premier sprint the Stradbroke Handicap.
In peak form back in the autumn and winter of 2009, Black Piranha enjoyed two narrow second-place finishes in Sydney when runner-up in both the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes and Doncaster Mile before travelling to the sunshine state.
After being beaten by just a half-neck by Apache Cat in the 2009 Doomben 10,000, Black Piranha went on to claim his first Stradbroke Handicap as the favourite and handed Karakatsanis, a former jockey, his first Group 1 success as a trainer.
The next year he finished fourth in the 2010 Doomben 10,000 but returned to form winning back-to-back Stradbrokes, this time as a $21 outsider.
He was just the seventh horse in history to win successive Stradbrokes joining an elite list, and one of only two in the past six decades along with Kiwi Rough Habit (1991-92).
Karakatsanis is now preparing the game old gelding for an unprecedented third win in the $1 million Stradbroke Handicap, with the BTC Cup his first-up run of the season.
Black Piranha resumes on Saturday after a lengthy five and a half month spell, his most recent run being ninth to Playing God in the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot in December.
Although Black Piranha has not been able to finish better than fourth in his seven runs since winning last year’s Stradbroke Handicap, Karakatsanis is adamant he deserves his spot in the BTC Cup and Stradbroke field.
“He’s been a great horse for me and this prep he’s going to try and do what no horse has done before, but he’s well in himself and is on target,” Karakatsanis said.
Karakatsanis rides Black Piranha for all of his track work and is confident his stable star is in the right form to bounce back this winter and surprise a few of the punters.
“He didn’t have a lot of luck last preparation,” Karakatsanis said.
“We took him to Perth, he didn’t handle it and the heat knocked him around a bit.
“We could have brought him back and got him ready for Sydney.
“But the horse has done the right thing by us, so I wanted to look after him so he had a good break.
“He’s come back in great order.
“I ride him all the time and he tries to drop me every day.
“He’s become worse with age, but that’s a good sign.”
Gold Coast-born jockey Matthew Palmer is engaged to take the mount on Black Piranha for the BTC Cup, which will be the first time the young hoop has paired with him since riding the horse at Rosehill in March of 2008.
While the BTC Cup provides a nice lead-up run, the Stradbroke and triple success in the lucrative feature is the main aim for Black Piranha.
“The focus is 100 per cent on the Stradbroke,” Karakatsanis said.
“Hopefully he can win it again and the history side of things is a bonus.”
Early Stradbroke Handicap betting has Black Piranha as a $41 roughie with markets lead by the super consistent Sincero ($4.80) who is vying for their sixth straight win in the Inglis 3YO Guineas at Scone this Saturday.