Trainer Robert Smerdon is unlikely to accept his smart mare Anatina for the 2014 McEwen Stakes in Melbourne on Saturday saving her from a clash with the world’s top rated sprinter Lankan Rupee.
There were 13 sprinters nominated for Saturday’s edition of the $200,000 Group 2 Mitty’s McEwen Stakes (1000m) on Monday, those entries extended until 10:00am on Tuesday morning.
Heading the hopefuls for the Moonee Valley showdown and sure to be odds-on favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au is the Mick Price-trained Group 1 hero Lankan Rupee, a winner of six of his past races on the trot.
The last three of those from the Redoute’s Choice gelding were at elite level during the autumn with the now five-year-old to race first-up in the McEwen ahead of the spring carnival’s Group 1 sprints.
Lankan Rupee hasn’t been seen since defeating Rebel Dane by two lengths to complete a Group 1 hat-trick in the TJ Smith Stakes in the wet at Randwick on April 12.
Fastnet Rock mare Anatina also hasn’t raced since last season when she finished just a long neck away second behind Tiger Tees in the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill on March 29.
Winner of the Ballarat 3YO Classic last November, Anatina also has Group 3 form around some nice types and defeated Group 1 placed Gregers before the Galaxy with a Flemington black-type win in early March.
Ahead of her return Smerdon ran her in an 800m barrier trial at the Cranbourne Training Complex on Monday with her race jockey Craig Williams aboard.
While her work there was good, her first-up record impressive and the class there, Smerdon doesn’t want to risk an early defeat at the hands of Lankan Rupee in the McEwen.
Instead he’s opting towards saving the mare for September 20 in an 1100 handicap at Caulfield Racecourse on September 20.
“She’s entered for Saturday but I don’t think we want to bash heads with Lankan Rupee and it’s a long spring with plenty of other options for her,” Smerdon told Racing Victoria on Monday.
“Craig was pretty happy with her effort there today.
“I think she’s most effective up to 1100m.
“She ran a good placing last Spring at 1200m (in the Group 3 Thoroughbred Club Stakes) but she was really paddling the last 50 yards and at that stage I formed the view that she might be best over the shorter distances and she’s been effective in that range so far.”
A Group 1 target is unlikely this spring with Smerdon naming her major aim as the $200,000 Group 2 Caulfield Sprint (1100m) on Caulfield Cup Day, October 18.
Also galloping at Cranbourne on Monday for Smerdon was Politeness who ran fourth over 990m in the opening heat of the morning.
A fellow four-year-old, the daughter of Street Sense has bigger fish to fry than Anatina this preparation with Smerdon earmarking her for the $500,000 Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day, November 1.
Last seen beating home Cosmic Endeavour in a Randwick Group 3 over 1200m from barrier 18, Politeness hasn’t been to Group 1 level yet and was sixth to stablemate Anatina first-up in March’s Listed MSS Security Stakes (1100m).
Smerdon however is confident she’s matured since and will be far more competitive this time in as she’s stepped up towards a mile.
First-up Politeness will resume in either Flemington’s $150,000 Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) on September 13 or at Caulfield the following Saturday in the Group 3 Sportingbet Sprint Series Heat 2 Stakes (1200m) – formerly the How Now Stakes.
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