Caulfield horseman Robert Smerdon has confirmed the Fillies Preview in Melbourne later this month is shaping up as the most likely first-up option for his Blue Diamond Stakes 2015 favourite Fontiton.
The $120,000 Listed Blue Diamond Fillies Preview (1000m) runs on the same day as the colts-and-geldings’ edition at Sandown Racecourse on January 26 during the Australia Day long weekend.
All going to plan and the race will feature the current early favourite to win the $1 million Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 28 during the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival, Fontiton.
“If she progresses well and everything falls into place, her first-up aim will be the Preview on Australia Day,” Smerdon confirmed to AAP on Sunday.
She entered Blue Diamond Stakes calculations after a blistering six length win in the $252,000 Inglis Banner (1000m) at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate Day, October 25.
That day jockey Mark Zahra had her ideally positioned from the jump with Fontiton able to drive along the inside from barrier one and take up an easy lead.
She showed no signs of greenness in her promising debut rounding the turn, holding a sweet spot before exploding away for her emphatic victory over Hot Snipperty.
The spot at the top of the futures Blue Diamond Stakes odds will remain hers with another similar display this time in stakes company should she resume in the Blue Diamond Fillies Preview.
Originally Smerdon looked at the Group 3 Maribyrnong Plate (1000m) at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup Carnival after Fontiton won so easily on debut, but he opted to send her out in preparation for the autumn instead.
“She’s a fair lump of a filly and I didn’t really expect her to be up and going as an early two-year-old but she just kept coping with the job at hand so she ended up at the races,” Smerdon said.
“Physically she doesn’t look like just a jump-and-run precocious two-year-old. She looks like she has got the scope to go on with it as a three-year-old. And hopefully that’s the case.”
She leads the all-in Blue Diamond Stakes odds at bookmakers around the country paying around $5.
Hot on her heels are then the Mick Price-trained Moonee Valley winning filly from December 12 Secret Agenda and Exceed And Excel colt Headwater, who also won on debut over the 1000m at the Valley, for Team Hawkes at $6 each.
The best of the Blue Diamond hopes could also be Sydney-bound three weeks later for a shot at the world’s richest juvenile’s race – the $3.5 million Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens.
Smerdon has also penciled in February 14 as the return date for two of Fontiton’s older stablemates with Fontein Ruby to run in the Group 3 Kevin Hayes Stakes (1200m) and Politeness tackling the mares in the Group 3 Bellmaine Stakes (1200m).
Last seen winning the Group 3 Summoned Stakes (1500m) at Sandown in mid-November following a seventh to Bonaria in the Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, Street Sense four-year-old Politeness heads towards the $600,000 Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill on March 14.
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