Tramway Stakes Title Defence for Lucia Valentina

Kris Lees’ talented mare Lucia Valentina ran a nice Newcastle trial on Monday ahead of her first-up spring run in Saturday week’s 2015 Tramway Stakes, a race she won in her resuming run last year.

Lucia Valentina

Lucia Valentina will kick off her spring in Saturday week’s 2015 Tramway Stakes, which she won last year. Photo: Race Horse Photos Australia.

The now five-year-old daughter of Savabeel took out the Royal Randwick handicap first-up last Sydney Spring Racing Carnival and on September 5 will shoot for back-to-back victories in the $175,000 Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m).

It will be the $1.2 million earner’s maiden run since her sixth to Criterion in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at the same track back in April, and will see her come up against John Thompson’s smart mare First Seal who is also set to run first-up in the Tramway after a foot abscess ruled her out of last weekend’s Warwick Stakes.

Originally prepared and raced in New Zealand, Lees’ Kiwi expat has been racing down under since the autumn last year and won her first elite level in that April’s Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill.

Lucia Valentina became a dual Group 1 winner last October at Flemington also winning the Turnbull Stakes over 2000m before her brave third to the Japanese raider Admire Rakti in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).

She has run just one top three place since then when third to Contributer in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) in March, but looked on track for another successful spring in her latest hit-out.

On Monday morning Lees was thrilled with the trial win of his defending Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist and also saw plenty to like in the fourth placed run over 900m behind Petrossian of Lucia Valentina.

It was an unsuitably short hit-out for the mare, but she still caught the eye when beaten under half a length with Brenton Avdulla in the saddle.

“That was her second trial and she ran up to expectations,” Lees told AAP.

Also on Monday, Lucia Valentina was nominated for the $1 million Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) to run at Randwick on October 3.

She could race in that Sydney classic before heading to Melbourne for another shot at the Caulfield Cup a fortnight later.

Currently she pays a juicy $34 in the futures Caulfield Cup odds at to improve on her third in the world’s richest mile and a half handicap last year.

Leading up to the Caulfield Cup, Lees is also looking at a run for Lucia Valentina in the $500,000 Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) on Sunday October 4 instead of the Epsom in Sydney.

There is also a chance she could be kept to 2000m and bypass the Caulfield Cup in favour of a weight-for-age run in the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 24.

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