Robert Smerdon’s Qatar Bloodstock-owned filly Crafty showed early Crown Oaks 2014 potential when successfully stepping up to a mile for her winning Taj Rossi Series Final performance at Flemingtonover the weekend.
The opening race on the ‘Finals Day’ program, the $120,000 Listed Taj Rossi Series Final (1600m) was won in an upset on Saturday with Manhatta Rain filly Crafty scoring as a $15 outsider.
Ridden by Mark Zahra from an inside barrier two draw the rising three-year-old showed promise as a young stayer with a narrow win over the Peter Moody-trained Triple Gold ($17).
In third nearly two lengths off the winner was then the $3.60 favourite Zebulon who didn’t handle the 1600m as well as the winning filly.
“He had his chance but he felt like he might have felt his shins and might need a freshen up,” Zebulon’s jockey Glen Boss said post-race.
Crafty showed nice improvement on a last start sixth to Zebulon in the Murray Cox Handicap (1410m) from a fortnight earlier and had Smerdon looking towards the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival with more confidence.
Winning jockey Zahra, aboard for the first time since her third on debut at Geelong back in February, was impressed with her gritty effort with Crafty having little luck running into the breeze.
She hit the front with 100m left to travel and despite the placegetters swamping late, held on for the winners’ cheque.
He also said she was showing the early signs of making a nice type for the $1 million Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) back at Flemington in early November during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
“I think she’ll improve as she gets over further. She’s got a great temperament and she switches off and hits the line,” Zahra said.
“I think going to 2000 (metres) wouldn’t be a problem and if she can run 2000 as a three-year-old they can usually run in the Oaks.”
Futures VRC Crown Oaks betting markets are led by Adelaide-based Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) winner Go Indy Go ($5).
Crafty is yet to be added to the odds but is a definite early contender worth following.
As for the beaten favourite Zebulon, co-trainer Peter Morgan said the All American colt would still continue towards the $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) in October despite their loss.
They are currently paying $21 in the all-in 2014 Caulfield Guineas odds that are led by Gai Waterhouse’s JJ Atkins winner Almalad ($9).
To check out all the early pre-nomination Group 1 betting markets for the spring head over to Ladbrokes.com.au where your first deposit will also be matched dollar for dollar up to $250 as a bonus bet!
2014 Taj Rossi Series Final Results & Finishing Order
Flemington Race 1 – 12/07/2014
|1||8||CRAFTY||Robert Smerdon||Mark Zahra||–||2||56kg||$15|
|2||9||TRIPLE GOLD||Peter G Moody||Luke Nolen||0.1L||5||55.5kg||$17|
|3||2||ZEBULON (NZ)||Peter Morgan & Craig Widdison||Glen Boss||1.85L||13||59kg||$3.60F|
|4||7||ALLERGIC||John O’Shea||Nicholas Hall||1.95L||11||56kg||$6.50|
|5||4||PROFIT SHARE||Darren Weir||Dean Yendall||2.15L||1||57.5kg||$4.40|
|6||1||VUELTA (NZ)||David Hayes||Michael Walker||2.25L||10||59kg||$11|
|7||3||LOTION||David Hayes||Jake Noonan||2.35L||8||58kg||$26|
|8||13||CUBAN FIGHTER||Robbie Laing||Dean Holland||3.6L||3||54kg||$26|
|9||5||FUND TRADER||Brett Cavanough||Daniel Stackhouse||5.35L||9||56.5kg||$11|
|10||6||WHAT A HOOT (NZ)||Leon Corstens||Ben Melham||6.1L||6||56.5kg||$21|
|11||10||LA CICCIOLINA||David Hayes||Dwayne Dunn||6.2L||4||54kg||$16|
|12||12||JINX||Nikki Burke||Brian Higgins||6.3L||12||54kg (cd 54.5kg)||$151|
|13||11||TOTAL CONTROL||Wendy Kelly||Dale Smith||6.5L||7||54kg||$10|