Leading Queensland trainer Robert Heathcote faces a tough decision on which Group 1 classic to target his smart Bianconi filly Fillydelphia for this Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival, the three-year-old well liked in the markets for both the Derby and Oaks next month.
A winner of five of her 14 starts to date, Fillydelphia burst into contention for an elite level win this season after her impressive three length victory in the Group 3 Rough Habit Plate (2020m) at Doomben on BTC Cup Day a fortnight ago.
The win came after she’d failed to come within six lengths when 12th to Chateau Fort in the Group 3 Gunsynd Classic (1600m) at Eagle Farm on April 30, showing Heathcote she had come on well and enjoyed racing without blinkers.
Heathcote must now decide whether to keep Fillydelphia against her own company and tackle the $400,000 Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm on June 4 or pit her against the colts and geldings in the following week’s $500,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m).
Fillydelphia is third favourite in the early Oaks markets paying $6 behind in-form Kiwi filly Scarlett Lady ($3.50) and the John Sadler-trained Heidilicious ($5.50).
She is at slightly longer odds for the Derby sitting on the fourth line of betting at $11 in markets lead by Graeme Rogerson’s Duelled gelding and Doomben Cup fourth placegetter Shootoff ($5.50).
Although Heathcote has not nominated Fillydelphia for the Queensland Derby, connections may be tempted to pay the $22,000 late entry fee if she shows she has improved enough to race competitively in open company for the Derby by winning the $150,000 Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) on Doomben 10,000 Day this Saturday.
“She couldn’t run in both the Oaks and the Derby as it’d be three weeks in a row she would have raced,” Heathcote said.
Due to be ridden by Larry Cassidy, Fillydelphia has drawn barrier 14 in the capacity Grand Prix Stakes field and will get the chance to show her form against a number of other Queensland Derby hopefuls including the Peter Snowden-trained colt Peck and Chateau Fort who ran third in the Rough Habit last start.
Trainer of Chateau Fort, Paul Messara, blamed the smart colt’s defeat at the hands of Fillydelphia in the Rough Habit on his awkward barrier nine draw and is out to turn the tables this weekend.
“He was beaten by the barrier,” Messara said.
“Having to make a mid-race move probably took a bit away from his finish.
“He still hit the line well but wasn’t able to sprint like he normally can.”
Messara was disappointed when Chateau Fort came up with the same barrier nine draw for the Grand Prix Stakes, but they may get the chance to move in with fifth emergency Saneyev – allocated barrier six – not gaining a start.
“Hopefully this weekend we can slot in and put him to sleep so he can finish off,” Messara said.
Larry Cassidy rode Fillydelphia for her opening three starts this prep, but was replaced by Luke Nolen for the Rough Habit Plate.
“Larry has won on her four times and will be back on her in the Grand Prix,” Heathcote said.
“It was a tough decision to take Larry off her last start, but I only did it as a means of looking to change our luck.”
Heathcote is admittedly impressed with the quality of the fillies this season who are on way to the Oaks.
“I was very impressed with Scarlett Lady when she won The Roses on Saturday and I think the fillies have it over the boys this year,” he said.
“If that’s the case then it’s going to be hard to beat Scarlett Lady in the Queensland Oaks.
“The Oaks looks like being a tougher race than the Derby.”
Fillydelphia was one of 21 first acceptors for the Queensland Oaks on Wednesday along with stablemate Hidden Kisses.
After running seventh in The Roses behind Scarlett Lady last weekend, Hidden Kisses is rated a $31 chance for the Oaks.
2011 Grand Prix Stakes Field & Barriers
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight Hcp. Rating|
|1||1X45X14132||ECHOES OF HEAVEN||Mick Price||Dwayne Dunn||20||56kg||90|
|2||45148X6025||EQUISSENTIAL||Neville O Saunders||Phillip Wolfgram||1||56kg||–|
|3||511105X862||HOUR OF PERIL||John P Thompson||Jim Byrne||15||56kg||78|
|4||3X1113||CHATEAU FORT||Paul Messara||Glen Colless||9||56kg||81|
|5||2120X21922||TURNITUP||Peter G Moody||Luke Nolen||13||56kg||74|
|6||38X03X0200||LEVI’S CHOICE||John P Thompson||Scott Galloway||18||56kg||77|
|7||4231X23211||MR LIGHT BLUE||Barry Baldwin||Timothy Bell (a)||16||56kg||–|
|8||16X113||LEADING (NZ)||John O’Shea||Brenton Avdulla||3||56kg||72|
|9||54441X1014||PLAYACTION||David Peoples||Glyn Schofield||2||56kg||73|
|10||21317X0059||SATCH||Bruce W Hill||Paul Hammersley||7||56kg||67|
|11||599396X326||ALMA’S FURY||Paul Murray||Hugh Bowman||17||56kg||70|
|12||137X15||THE CHEVRON (NZ)||John Sadler||Steven Arnold||8||56kg||68|
|13||6X213X156||PECK||Peter Snowden||Corey Brown||12||56kg||68|
|14||3X3971108||UNDERTHEBONNET||Steele Ryan||Shane Scriven||4||56kg||66|
|15||475X412224||ENDOR (NZ)||Graeme & Debbie Rogerson||Chris Munce||5||56kg||68|
|16||11L16X4001||FILLYDELPHIA||Robert Heathcote||Larry Cassidy||14||54kg||88|
|17e||51149X073||MAN FROM OZ||Kelso Wood||Chris Munce||11||56kg||–|
|18e||100X475920||QUARTERBAR||Michael Moroney||Chad Ormsby||21||56kg||66|
|19e||5X62182||LAUDIT||John Symons & Sheila Laxon||Scott Seamer||19||56kg||65|
|20e||1X572X7261||FIVES’A DIAMOND (NZ)||Allan Sharrock||–||10||56kg||67|