Cambridge-based New Zealand horseman Murray Baker shoots for his third Underwood Stakes win this weekend in Melbourne and is confident the extra distance will suit his Group 1 winning four-year-old Mongolian Khan in the Caulfield feature.
Baker won the weight-for-age Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival feature in 2011 with the ill-fated Lion Tamer and again two years back with superstar It’s A Dundeel (2013).
He is now in with another livewire hope in 2015 saddling up the autumn’s ATC Derby winner over the mile and a half in Sydney, Mongolian Khan in the $400,000 Group 1 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m).
Running as Caulfield Race 7 at 4:05pm (AEST) on Saturday afternoon, the staying showdown features a final field of a dozen hopefuls with the Underwood Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au firmly led by Robert Hickmott’s last start Makybe Diva Stakes winner Fawkner ($3.30) drawn a treat in barrier two.
Baker’s Holy Roman Emperor stallion Mongolian Khan is also a graduate coming out of the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) over the mile at Flemington a fortnight ago, the race last producing an Underwood Stakes winner in 2008 with Weekend Hussler.
Mongolian Khan ran in the Makybe Diva first-up in his first run since taking out the ATC Derby at Randwick in early April for his second Group 1 success to add to his NZ Derby success also over the 2400m back in late February.
He ran seventh with a mid-field Makybe Diva Stakes finish but was far from disgraced in that resuming run when beaten only one and a half lengths, Mongolian Khan now rated an $11 hope in the Underwood Stakes odds for the rematch with eight-year-old Fawkner.
Four-year-olds have an ace Underwood Stakes record in recent history with four saluting in the past five years including most recently Baker’s 2013 champ.
This time in Mongolian Khan is nominated for all the spring majors including the $3 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 17, which is the more likely option over the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) the following Saturday at Moonee Valley as Baker knows the horse will only get better the more distance he runs over.
“I’m really happy with Mongolian Khan. He wasn’t far away first-up in the Makybe Diva, he didn’t have much room late and was full of running on the line,” he told Racenet.
“The further they go the better he will get. He’ll be thereabouts on Saturday.”
Mongolian Khan pays $17 in futures Caulfield Guineas odds that are led by Japan’s Fame Game ($9) but is a $34 outsider in all-in Cox Plate betting that has the Chris Waller-trained George Main Stakes winner Kermadec ($7) as narrow favourite over today’s Underwood top fancy Fawkner ($9).
To get behind Mongolian Khan for the upset in the Underwood Stakes this afternoon as well as check out the early markets for other upcoming Melbourne Group 1s, head to Ladbrokes.com.au who are offering ‘Double The Odds’ on the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield if you deposit via their exclusive ‘Cash In’ means!