While the race scratchings pile up for tonight’s Canterbury meeting and the Warwick Farm card tomorrow, Queanbeyan horseman Neville Layt remains confident his filly Karuta Queen can still make a successful return to racing on Saturday ahead of a supercharged autumn campaign.
Thirty-seven horses have already been scratched across the seven races at Canterbury’s twilight meeting this evening, the track currently rated a Heavy (9) and likely to deteriorate further with the ongoing wet weather in Sydney today.
For Warwick Farm on Saturday there is also likely to be plenty of casualties coming out of the eight race fields due to the muddy conditions.
Layt, however, has insisted that his Not A Single Doubt three-year-old Karuta Queen will handle any type of track including a Heavy (10) when she runs first-up in Warwick Farm Race 3 – the $70,000 Www.Tab.Com.Au Handicap (1000m).
“Put it this way, I’ll be very disappointed if she doesn’t win the race,” he said.
“She is going along great guns, it is only 1000m and the rain could be in her favour.
“She hasn’t disappointed us yet and there is no reason why she should (on Saturday).”
The field is already down to just five following the decision from Canberra trainer Matthew Dale to avoid a clash with Karuta Queen and take his last-start Canterbury Classic winner Unanimously to Melbourne for a black-type at Caulfield this Saturday instead.
Karuta Queen, a former Magic Millions winner and Group 3 champion, could face even fewer rivals as she runs for the first time since her second to African Pulse at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day as local horseman Gary Portelli indicated he was tempted to withdraw Eight Bills (barrier four) from the clash.
With Joe Pride’s mare Phenomenal Lass also known for her liking of firmer ground, failing all three of her attempts on Slow ground, the third at Warwick Farm could be down to a three-horse race between Karuta Queen, Paul Perry’s Social Rank and the Joe Pride-trained La Remlap.
Although Karuta Queen has never raced on a Heavy track, she easily accounted for her rivals in her sole run on Slow ground in the 2010 Magic Millions Classic on the Gold Coast.
“I am not worried about the wet tracks, I’ve seen her work at home on bottomless tracks that were very heavy and she never put a foot wrong and ran time, it doesn’t worry her,” he said.
“I am quite happy with her fitness levels, she has come back a much stronger filly and I don’t think I could get her any fitter even if I have her another trial.”
Following Saturday’s run Karuta Queen is set to move onto the $175,000 Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) at the same track on February 18.
Prior to the withdrawal of Unanimously, Karuta Queen was the dominant $1.70 favourite to win at Warwick Farm through Luxbet.
Updated markets are due up shortly.
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