While many trainers are up in arms about the ATC’s decision to move Saturday’s Villiers Stakes Day races to the Kensington track, Bjorn Baker has relished the switch as the shorter distance of the 2013 Razor Sharp Handicap will suit his runner Zaratone.
Traditionally the $100,000 Listed Razor Sharp Handicap is run over 1200m but this year is down to 1150m with all races shortened to accommodate being held at Kensington as opposed to the course proper at Randwick.
For known short distance specialist Zaratone that came as welcome news, the Zariz eight-year-old not having raced over further then 1100m since the winter.
“Zaratone is all systems go for the Razor Sharp and he has been helped by the switch to the Kensington track because the distance has been reduced to 1150m,” Baker told The Daily Telegraph.
Formerly prepared in Canberra by Nick Olive the veteran grey made the move to Baker’s Sydney base earlier this year and has won two of their eight starts for their new trainer.
Most recently they were seen at Rosehill carrying 58kg to a smart two length win over Heart Testa in the Listed Starlight Stakes (1100m).
For that ride jockey Brenton Avdulla replaced the horse’s regular rider Kathy O’Hara who was out with injury.
O’Hara has recovered from a race fall, and subsequent concussion and head wound, in time to reunite with Zaratone this weekend however, the pair back together for a shot at the Razor Sharp where Zaratone goes up to the 59kg topweight.
“Kathy is Zaratone’s regular rider and knows the horse very well,” Baker said.
“As soon she told me she was ready to ride again, she was straight back on the horse.”
There were a total of 16 Razor Sharp Handicap nominations taken this year, other notable hopes including Chris Waller’s Starlight Stakes runner-up Heart Testa and third placegetter in that race, the Peter Snowden-trained Safeguard.
Baker could also be represented by up to four juveniles in Saturday’s lucrative $250,000 Inglis Nursery (1000m).
He’s nominated for Baio, Dream Habit, Catchtherainbow and the unraced Silent Rush who could miss out due to the field size being restricted to a dozen starters.
Of the quartet it is Myboycharlie colt Baio who he sees as having the most improvement in them despite a last start eighth on Cox Plate Day.
“Baio is the definite pick of them and I’ve booked Nash Rawiller to ride him,” Baker said.
“But all four two-year-olds are going really well and I hope they all get a start because they are racing for such good prize money.”
The Razor Sharp Handicap 2013 field and barriers are due out on Wednesday so stay tuned.
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