Kelso Wood won’t know if he has two or three runners in Saturday week’s 2013 Stradbroke Handicap until the eleventh hour with the Brisbane-based trainer sweating on the weekend’s race results to see if Belltone will be pushed out of contention.
Two races running at Eagle Farm for Queensland Oaks Day this Saturday offer the winner a ballot free ride into the $1.36 million Group 1 AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) on June 8 but Wood has opted not to run Belltone again before Queensland’s richest race.
The three-year-olds will fight for the ballot exemption in the $350,000 Group 2 Queensland Guineas (1400m) with the other Straddie hopes facing off in the $175,000 Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m) which is the race Belltone could have started in.
Over a dozen of the 40 Stradbroke Handicap first acceptors racing across the two events on Saturday are still not assured of a start in the million dollar feature meaning Brahms seven-year-old Belltone, currently 18th on the order of entry, could be pushed outside the starting line-up come crunch time.
The Stradbroke Handicap has a capacity field of 18 starters meaning Belltone is right on the brink of joining their already assured of a start stablemates Sizzling (15th) and Spirit Song (8th).
“I don’t need the stress,” Wood said of the wait.
“Hopefully he (Belltone) gets in because he’s beautifully weighted (with 53.5kg).”
Snitzel colt Sizzling, a $13 chance in the Stradbroke Handicap odds at bookmaker.com.au, runs in the Queensland Guineas on Saturday looking to bounce back after two less than ideal runs this time in including their last start sixth in the Group 3 Fred Best Classic (1350m).
Invincible Sprit mare Spirit Song meanwhile won’t run again before the Stradbroke, for which she is a $61 roughie to win, the former Aaron Purcell-trained Group 2 winner having failed last start when 12th to Pentasia in the Listed Chief De Beers Handicap (1100m) unsuited to the short sprint distance and her horror outside barrier 15 draw.
News that last year’s Stradbroke Handicap winner Pear Tart would likely be retired after her sale for $675,000 by the soon to be defunct Patinack Farm yesterday will help Belltone’s cause however as the mare is officially 16th on the Stradbroke ballot.
“I’d say she will probably be retired and it’s highly unlikely she will race on,” Pear Tart’s successful high bidder bloodstock agent Adrian Nicol said after the purchase.
“She was bought as part of a partnership between the Niarchos family of France and Coolmore.
“The Niarchos’ owned her grandmother and are excited about breeding with her. She will probably go to Pierro.”
Also working for Belltone would be a QTC Cup and or Queensland Guineas win by either a non Stradbroke bound horse or one already assured of a start such as Hot Snitzel or Decision Time in the QTC Cup.
The other horse sweating on a Stradbroke start sitting 17th on the ballot is then Chris Waller’s multiple Group winning mare Arinosa.
The beautiful grey Dash For Cash five-year-old, winner of the Group 3 Birthday Card Stakes – Group 2 Sapphire Stakes double in Sydney during the autumn, is at $10 to win the Stradbroke despite her last start fourth to Sookie in the Group 3 Glenlogan Park Stakes (1350m) at Doomben last Saturday as the short-priced favourite.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for all the latest Stradbroke Handicap field and betting updates.
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