Robert Smerdon’s progressive three-year-old Salute To Jude puts their 2014 Magic Millions Guineas hopes on the line at Flemington this weekend.
The Stratum gelding lines up for their sixth career start in the $100,000 Fiesta Star Handicap (1200m) in Melbourne on Saturday, their performance in which could see them Gold Coast bound next month.
Smerdon and connections have their eye on a run in the $1 million Gold Coast Magic Millions 3YO Guineas (1400m) for them on January 11.
However they have to show something down Victoria’s famous straight to assure themselves of a trip to Queensland.
“We have got the option of the 1400-metre race at the Gold Coast if his form warrants it,” Smerdon told AAP speaking of the Guineas.
“[But] there’s no point going up there to make up the numbers.
“I would say if he’s not very competitive in Saturday’s race, you’d think it wouldn’t be worth going to Queensland because it (the Magic Millions Guineas) is going to be a fair race.”
To date the youngster has had just one win when Salute To Jude won as a juvenile at Cranbourne back in July.
This time in they’ve had one run when a nice second to Lord Of The Sky in a Benchmark 78 handicap at Caulfield over 1000m a fortnight ago.
On Saturday they step up to 1200m but will enjoy a drop back in the weights from 55kg to the 54kg minimum.
They’ve also got a great draw in the 12 horse field, now set to jump from barrier four after the early scratching of two runners.
Cox Plate winning apprentice Chad Schofield further enhances their claims, the top young jockey in the saddle for the first time.
Fiesta Star Handicap betting is a pretty open market with the consistent Oltre Finito in barrier one the current $5 favourite.
Salute To Jude meanwhile is one of five other single figure chances in the mix paying $9.50.
That’s a much shorter price than the $51 outside odds they’re paying at Ladbrokes.com.au in the futures markets for the Magic Millions Guineas, and one that Smerdon is hoping they’ll live up to.
“I reckon he went terrific first-up but this is a bit of a test for him class-wise to see where he goes,” Smerdon said.
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