The 2014 Futurity Stakes (1400m) will feature just nine runners after the final field and barrier draw released this morning revealed Eurozone and Sistine Demon will not contest the Group 1 event on Saturday.
Peter Moody-trained Moment Of Change will be aiming for a second-consecutive win at Group 1 level, having claimed the C.F Orr Stakes (1400m) from Eurozone and 2013 Cox Plate Champion Shamus Award.
Having placed in both the Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) and Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) to close a consistent 2013 spring preparation, the Barely A Moment gelding was resounding favourite to open his 2014 account with a strong win in the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) on January 24th, but was unable to hold out a late charge from Richie’s Vibe and finished second by a nose.
Having drawn barrier 6, Moment Of Change will again be partnered by leading jockey Luke Nolen, but will have to be on-song immediately if to overcome a talented field that will also include Bull Point (barrier 5).
Bull Point experienced a meteoric rise to form in 2013, claiming three wins from only seven starts including the TAB.com.au Handicap (1000m) on debut and impressively finishing third behind Zoustar in the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) to close his opening season.
Having returned to the track in 2014 in blistering form, the exciting Fastnet Rock colt won the Group 3 Manfred Stakes (1200m) ahead of Worth A Ransom and The Quarterback first-up and is widely expected to be one of the year’s standout performers.
Wez Hunter-trained Smokin’ Joey will be aiming for first-up success in the Futurity Stakes, having also been included in today’s the final field.
Winning the Group 3 TAB.com.au Stakes (1400m), the Encosta De Lago gelding almost caused the boil-over of 2013 when blazing from the rear of the pack on the final straight to finish second by a nose to Boban in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) on November 9th.
Having drawn the ideal barrier 1, Smokin’ Joey will be particularly hard to beat with regular jockey Jason Benbow confirmed to take the ride.
Without doubt the most interesting acceptance for the 2014 Futurity Stakes, trainer Robbie Laing appears set to saddle Polanski (barrier 7) for the first time in 2014 only one week prior to major target; the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m).
Having contracted a nasty case of ringworm that lead to scratchings in both the Group 2 Autumn Stakes (1400m) and Group 2 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) over the last two weeks, Laing revealed last week Polanski would head to Flemington on March 1st to contest the Guineas first-up, however it now seems likely the talented Rakti colt will chase race fitness in the Futurity Stakes.
Both Sizzling and Pinwheel (barrier 4) have accepted to run in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Sydney’s Royal Randwick on Saturday, yet also appear in the final field for the Futurity stakes.
After jockey Christian Reith was nominated to partner Pinwheel in the Sydney event and a rider has to yet be confirmed for the Futurity Stakes, it appears trainer Peter Snowden will keep the Lonhro gelding aimed at Group 2 events, however trainer Chris Waller is likely to saddle Sizzling in Melbourne after drawing the ideal barrier 2.
Sertorius (barrier 3), Clear For Action (barrier 9) and Lidari (barrier 8) have also accepted to run in the 2014 Futurity Stakes.
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2014 Futurity Stakes Final Field and Barrier Draw
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp Rating|
|1||617x7547x3||SIZZLING||Chris Waller||Craig Newitt||2||59kg||103|
|2||5x24432x21||MOMENT OF CHANGE||Peter G Moody||Luke Nolen||6||59kg||111|
|4||x2x622121x||SERTORIUS||Jamie Edwards & Bruce Elkington||Ryan Maloney||3||59kg||105|
|5||4280x0120x||SMOKIN’ JOEY||Wez Hunter||Jason Benbow||1||59kg||104|
|6||22x71039x8||CLEAR FOR ACTION||Jim Conlan||Mark Zahra||9||59kg||92|
|7||x8x225x13x||LIDARI (FR)||Peter G Moody||Chad Schofield||8||59kg||102|
|8||41Dx78111x||POLANSKI||Robbie Laing||Dean Yendall||7||55.5kg||108|
|9||121423×1||BULL POINT||Gai Waterhouse||Damien Oliver||5||55.5kg||88|