In a super tight betting market for Saturday’s Lexus Stakes 2015 at Flemington Racecourse the John O’Shea-trained Havana Cooler is narrow favourite to take out the staying showdown that offers a Melbourne Cup ballot exemption to the winner.
A final field of 13 is engaged to face off in Race 5 on Victoria Derby Day at 2:25pm (AEST), with the $300,000 Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) shaping up as another hotly contested affair by hopefuls down the order of entry for next Tuesday’s $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Leading the Lexus Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, who are offering an Extra 50% on your first Fixed Odds winner in Flemington Races 1 – 5 on Derby Day, is Havana Cooler at a firming $5.
Drawn a treat in gate three for the in-form James McDonald to ride, the Hurricane Run six-year-old comes off a third to his stablemate and Saturday’s 2015 Mackinnon Stakes favourite Magic Hurricane in the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) in Sydney at the start of the month.
He’s yet to win down under and currently sits 33rd on the Melbourne Cup ballot, but gets in well on 55.5kg for Saturday’s shot at making the capacity 24-starter field for the ‘race that stops a nation’.
Four other Lexus Stakes hopefuls are also under $10 for the win this weekend including close $5.50 second elect Excess Knowledge prepared by 2013 Melbourne Cup winning trainer Gai Waterhouse.
Drawn in gate nine with Dwayne Dunn aboard, Monsun stallion Excess Knowledge comes off two seconds at Caulfield most recently behind Amralah in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m).
He carried 57.5kg from barrier 13 of 13 that day so will appreciate a better gate and the drop back to 56.5kg this weekend.
The next best in Lexus Stakes betting are the rails-drawn Ruling Dynasty ($6.50) and Elhaame ($7.50) in gate four with Brad Rawiller to ride on 56kg.
James Cummings prepares Medaglia D’Oro four-year-old Ruling Dynasty who comes off a Listed win over Junoob at Randwick over 2400m from October 17 carrying 54kg.
He had the inside barrier there and gets gate one again as he shoots for back-to-back wins, going up just a half-kilo for his Melbourne debut.
Elhaame is prepared in the UK by Godolphin’s Saeed Bin Suroor and chases a Melbourne Cup start having won his past two starts back over with winning form up to 2320m.
Rounding out the single figure fancies is then Waterhouse’s second runner Bohemian Lily ($9.50) who is in great form and looks nice value jumping with the 54kg minimum from gate five with Jim Cassidy in the saddle.
She has run third in her two lead-up runs in Melbourne firstly in the Herbert Power Stakes and then last weekend’s Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m) on Cox Plate Day behind The United States.
Just outside the hopes under double figures are the value bets in the market including the Darren Weir-trained last start Geelong winner over the mile and a half Zanteca ($10), Robert Hickmott’s The Metropolitan fifth past the post Chance To Dance ($11) and former Queensland Derby winner Hawkspur ($13) out wide in barrier 12 for Sydney’s top trainer Chris Waller who comes off a third in the Group 3 The Bart Cummings (2520m) at the track on October 4.
Check out the latest Lexus Stakes 2015 odds below then head over to Ladbrokes.com.au to enjoy Best Tote or SP + 20% on the full Flemington race card this Saturday in Melbourne!