Crystal Shines for Value in McEwen Stakes 2011 Odds

With Peter Moody fever sweeping around the country, his in-form mare Kulgrinda has been backed into clear favouritism to win the 2011 McEwen Stakes at Moonee Valley this Saturday, however, another mare in the showdown that boasts one of the best race records of last season is Crystal Lily.

Crystal Lily

Crystal Lily is out to win her first race since last year's Golden Slipper when she lines up at Moonee Valley on Saturday

Matthew Ellerton and Simon Zahra’s star Stratum four-year-old Crystal Lily has snuck under the radar for the $150,000 Group 3 Mitty’s McEwen Stakes (1000m) tomorrow as all the hype has been on Kulgrinda after Moody’s runner drew barrier one of the nine-horse field.

In the McEwen Stakes 2011 odds at Luxbet, Kulgrinda sits at the top of the markets paying $2.50 to maintain her unbeaten record at Moonee Valley.

Kulgrinda is preparing for a supercharged sprint showdown with Sepoy in the 2011 Manikato Stakes at the Valley on September 30 and comes into Saturday’s race on the back of a classy two and a half length win in the Listed Printhouse Graphics Stakes over the same course and distance as the McEwen.

While Kulgrinda is full of promise, the McEwen Stakes betting second-elect at Luxbet, Crystal Lily, has the class to overcome her barrier seven draw and return to the winners stall on Saturday as she too looks to display her credentials for the $500,000 Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m).

Crystal Lily has been a market drifter for Moonee Valley Race 6 on Saturday, now paying a juicy $4.20 out from $3.90.

These are surprisingly generous odds for a mare that has been unplaced just four times over her 14-start career, every race Crystal Lily has contested from debut to today holding black-type status.

Winner of last year’s Golden Slipper as a juvenile, Crystal Lily has had five starts this year all at elite level which produced three second place finishes, two of which came behind the world’s fastest mare – Black Caviar.

Stepping back in grade on Saturday after such a testing summer-autumn campaign, connections are hoping Crystal Lily is ready to race competitively and not fall victim to another Moody mare again.

While Crystal Lily hasn’t raced since her second behind Lone Rock in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville on May 8, she has won back-to-back jump outs over the past two weeks at Werribee and Flemington, showing Ellerton she was ready to get back to race conditions.

“She still looks a bit off in the coat and a bit ‘wintry’, but she’s in good order,” Ellerton said.

“We’ll be looking for a good performance and improvement to come out of her.”

Ellerton’s cousin and co-trainer Zahara agreed that she had improvement to come but that Crystal Lily was still a genuine chance on Saturday.

“We have got her right where we want her,’ he said.

“She boasts a really good first-up record and sprints well fresh.”

There is one other horse at single-figure odds to win the McEwen Stakes on Saturday, Atomic Force seeing plenty of support having firmed in from their opening price of $9 at Luxbet into $7.50.

There have been a number of changes in the 2011 McEwen Stakes odds since betting on the weight-for-age showdown opened at Luxbet yesterday, see below for fluctuations and current prices on the field.

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2011 McEwen Stakes Odds Update

# Horse (Barrier) Opening Price Odds*
1 HAPPY ZERO (6) 12.00 13.00
2 ATOMIC FORCE (9) 9.00 7.50
3 BUFFERING (8) 8.50 10.00
4 FIRST COMMAND (4) 11.00 11.00
5 ZEDI KNIGHT (5) 41.00 51.00
6 SHRAPNEL (3) 14.00 14.00
7 CRYSTAL LILY (7) 3.90 4.20
8 KULGRINDA (1) 2.50 2.50
9 SATIN SHOES (2) 14.00 15.00

*Odds are Fixed Win, subject to change – check Luxbet for the latest