Victorian trainer Michael Moroney will assess the 2013 Queensland Derby aspirations of two of his three-year-olds when Rhythm To Spare and Murcielaga face off in the same Sandown mile feature today.
One of the big features on Stradbroke Handicap Day at Eagle Farm on June 8 during the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival, the $500,000 Group 1 Channel Seven Queensland Derby (2400m) drew 122 nominations this year including 18 from Moroney.
Two of those are scheduled to run in the $35,000 Le Pine Funerals Handicap (1600m) at Sandown this afternoon including the $3.70 favourite for that, Rhythm To Spare.
Drawn in gate seven with ace hoop Glen Boss to ride, the Pins three-year-old broke their maiden status at Bendigo at start number three last month over 1300m and looks prime to handle the step up in distance with the youngster also to appreciate the drop back from 58kg there to 54kg today.
“Rhythm To Spare is a really nice horse,” Moroney said.
“We were trying to get him ready for the New Zealand Derby but he got shin sore so we brought him across here, and he won his Australian debut well.
“All going well he’ll go to Queensland for the Derby.”
Moroney’s other Derby hope racing against Rhythm To Spare in the last at Sandown is then $11 chance Murcielaga.
A winner on debut at Warrnambool this time last year, the Teta Rossa colt has been well back in their three subsequent runs and will need to show a lot of improvement on their 12th last time out at Caulfield.
“He’s on trial to head north if he goes well enough and if he doesn’t we’ll stop and geld him,” Moroney said.
In the latest Queensland Derby odds at bookmaker.com.au Rhythm To Spare pays $21 while Murcielaga is a $67 roughie.
Markets are led by Kiwi raider Survived at $6 who debuts in Australia in Saturday’s Group 3 Rough Habit Plate (2100m) at Eagle Farm, and the Gai Waterhouse-trained VRC St Leger winner Hippopus ($6.50).
Moroney’s other notable hopes to hand him his first Queensland Derby trophy then include Saint Or Sinner ($26), Schweppes Oaks third placegetter La Zuma ($26) and About Square ($41).
“We’ve got a lot of slow-maturing three-year-olds that are just hitting their straps,” Moroney said.
“We’ll give them all the chance to see where they fit in.”
Also among his current crop of three-year-olds is The Last Shower, the New Zealand-based filly coming across from his Matamata base to target the $400,000 Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm on June 1 – a race Moroney won with Eskimo Queen back in 2007.
His other major Queensland winter wins came with Sarerra in the 2008 Doomben Cup and his Stradbroke Handicap winner from that year Mr Baritone but the Derby is yet to be his.
“I won the Oaks with Eskimo Queen but it would be nice to win a Derby as well,” he said.
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