The Group 1 2013 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) is undeniably one of the biggest events of the 2013 Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival and the countdown is nearly over.
The $1 million feature sprint will take place on March 9 at Flemington and Peter Moody-trained gelding Moment Of Change is the early $2.80 favourite.
The four-year-old broke through at Group 1 level in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes in September and was second in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes behind Black Caviar earlier this month.
Occupying the second and third lines of betting are Perth stars Barakey ($4.50) and Luckygray ($6.50).
They may be rated highly in the market but if either are to taste success they will have to break history.
Both will go into the prestigious sprint without a lead-up run and no galloper has won the event first-up since Polycrates in 1917.
The task became extra difficult for Luckygray when weights were released today with the grey gelding allocated the topweight of 58kg.
Things were going perfectly to plan for Barakey until Saturday when he was scratched at the barriers when favourite in the Oakleigh Plate after striking his head in the stalls.
Next best in the market is Queensland three-year-old Better Than Ready ($12) who shot into Newmarket contention when dominating the Listed Falvelon Quality by three lengths at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
The More Than Ready colt has won five of eight starts and will carry just 50.5kg when he takes on the older horses in his Group 1 debut.
Better Than Ready has won both his tests at stakes level, having also taken out the Listed Brian Crowley Stakes while breaking the Randwick 1200m track record in October.
No other Newmarket entrant falls under double figures, with triple Group 1 winner Ortensia and Danny O’Brien-trained colt Shamexpress sharing the next line of betting at $21.
Others high up in Newmarket betting are Anthony Cummings’ Group 2 winner Fontelina ($26), Robert Smerdon-trained pair Lone Rock ($26) and Shamal Wind ($26) and Oakleigh Plate third Spirit Of Boom ($26).
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