Freedman Aborts Becerra’s Derby Campaign

Prolific horse trainer Lee Freedman has this morning confirmed connections would not be paying the hefty late entry fee for smart Al Maher filly Becerra to run in this Saturday’s $500,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m).

Lee Freedman

Lee Freedman won't run his Oaks runner-up Becerra in the Queensland Derby this Saturday

Becerra ran an eye-catching Derby trial last Saturday when given a gun ride from jockey Dwayne Dunn to finish second behind runaway winner Scarlett Lady in the Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm.

The Oaks run had Freedman considering a seven day back-up for Becerra in the Queensland Derby against the colts and geldings.

Becerra, however, was confirmed to have pulled up a little scratchy after the Oaks and will be a non-acceptor for the Derby.

When Freedman was asked this morning how the predicted wet weather forecast for Brisbane would affect Becerra on Saturday he replied: “It won’t matter because she’s not running.”

Only yesterday Freedman had established that they would be paying the $27,500 late entry Derby fee.

“It’s always difficult to beat the boys, but she’s in terrific form and it’s only a few days away, so we might as well pay up,” Freedman said on Tuesday.

Today, however, Freedman had completely changed his tune with Becerra not coming through her last run as well as he had hoped.

“I’m not entirely happy with her,” Freedman said this morning.

“She tends to pull up a little bit scratchy.

“She’s just a big filly whose always had a few minor niggles with her legs.

“We will probably head to the paddock with her now.”

Freedman said the decision to bypass the Derby was in no way a reflection of her run in the Oaks, which he said was terrific.

“It was one of his (Dwayne Dunn’s) best,” Freedman said.

“It was a terrific ride and he gave her every chance.

“It took a pretty good filly to run her down.”

Freedman also commented on the progress of six-year-old Marju gelding Fanjura.

Fanjura could only manage to finish seven lengths away fourth to Michael Moroney’s star European import Glass Harmonium in the Group 2 Eagle Farm Cup (2200m) last Saturday.

While Glass Harmonium is set to back up in the $300,000 Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2400m) this weekend looking to add a second Australian win to their record, Fanjura has not been entered for the event.

“He’s just ticking along, but he definitely needed another run,” Freedman said.

“We will keep him ticking over through to the Ipswich Cup (Saturday June 18) or the Tatts Gold Cup.”

Freedman will still have two runners on Stradbroke Handicap Day at Eagle Farm this Saturday with Smokin’ Joey set to contest the $250,000 Group 2 Queensland Guineas (1600m) and Dane Julia entered for the $80,000 Listed Strawberry Road Handicap (1600m).

Encosta De Lago three-year-old Smokin’ Joey has had three runs this year.

The gelding ran two disappointing races when 13th to Bullbars in February’s Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington and then 11th to Danny O’Brien’s smart filly Shamrocker in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) on March 5.

Dropping back in class, last run Smokin’ Joey showed improvement when second to Adebisi in a 1200m event at Doomben on May 28.

“Smokin’ Joey runs in the Guineas on Saturday,” Freedman confirmed.

“I was very pleased with his first run back and he’ll really appreciate Eagle Farm on Saturday.

“I’m expecting him to run well.”

In regards to his seven-year-old mare Dane Julia, Freedman said he was unhappy that he was unable to get her a start in last Saturday’s Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes that was won by Hurtle Myrtle.

“I was very disappointed I couldn’t run her in the Dane Ripper,” he said.

“She’s beaten Hurtle Myrtle before.

“I will focus on getting her right for something later in the carnival.”