The 2016 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes at Flemington Racecourse next month is a possible first-up option for the progressive David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained sprinter Keen Array.
The three-year-old son of Bel Esprit boasts a strong record of four wins and two seconds from eight career runs to date that he will be out to add to this Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival.
Unlike his Thousand Guineas winning stablemate Stay With Me and 2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes-bound superstar Criterion, Keen Array will race in Victoria this season to start his latest campaign.
Best known for his $350,000 Listed Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m) win at Caulfield as the short priced favourite last October, the up-and-comer was last seen racing in elite level company at Flemington.
On Victoria Derby Day during the Melbourne Cup Carnival the galloper caught the eye running a brave second to cross one and a half lengths off the Chris Waller-trained Japonisme as a $12 shot in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m).
He will be aimed at another Melbourne Group 1 sprint during the autumn, but will be taking on the older horses next time out.
Co-trainer Dabernig told Racing Ahead on RSN this week the stable were looking at a resuming run in either the $750,000 Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) down the straight on February 20 or the $500,000 Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield Racecourse on Blue Diamond Stakes Day the following weekend.
“He’s going to head down to Flemington for a jump-out [soon],” Dabernig confirmed.
“We’re just considering whether we run him first-up in the Lightning, the other option is the Oakleigh Plate.
“He looks to have improved a little bit on last prep.”
Dabernig’s uncle and co-trainer Hayes took out the Lightning Stakes in 2010 with Nicconi before the race’s now namesake Black Caviar enjoyed three straight victories from 2011-13.
He also boasts a previous Oakleigh Plate success from 2011 with Eagle Falls scoring the upset at 20/1 in a race where the favourite Catapulted could only manage to finish 14th.
Also on track to resume for the Lindsay Park operation are Sacred Eye who is likely to take on the boys in the $750,000 Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 5 and Stutt Stakes winner Sovereign Nation.
Encosta De Lago colt Sovereign Nation has won two of his five runs so far including the Group 2 Stutt Stakes (1600m) over the mile at Moonee Valley in early October last year.
He backed up from that win to run a brave fourth behind Press Statement in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) just seven days later before a last start eighth to Jameka in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Vase (2040m) on Cox Plate Day.
The three-year-old trials at Flemington this week ahead of a likely first-up run in the $150,000 Group 3 Manfred Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 6.
“He’s trialling at Flemington tomorrow. He’ll probably run first-up in the Manfred,” Dabernig said.
Sovereign Nation holds nominations for both the Australian Guineas as well as the weight-for-age $1.5 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) on Super Saturday, March 12.
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