Godolphin head trainer John O’Shea has ruled out Flemington’s Newmarket Handicap for boom colt Exosphere who will instead head to Sydney for the 2016 TJ Smith Stakes after a failed first-up run in Melbourne.
The Golden Rose winning Lonhro colt was the short-priced favourite to win the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) down the Flemington straight over the weekend.
A luckless run saw him ruled out of the race early and he and jockey James McDonald only managed to finish one and three-quarter lengths away fourth to Chautauqua.
O’Shea was still happy with the three-year-old’s effort, his first run since another Group 1 fourth at the track to Japonisme in the Coolmore Stud Stakes in the spring.
“He jumped left and then he sort of got following Va Pensiero, who was always going to be the early speed and by the time he looked up and realised the chances had gone to the other side and it was game over,” O’Shea told Racing Victoria.
“I was very proud of the horse, I’d say there was probably a two to four length disparity between the inside and the outside at Flemington yesterday. I don’t think that’s unrealistic.
“I think the horse was great, but I think tactically we come up short. There’s not much else to say.”
Chris Waller’s Coolmore Stud Stakes winner Japonisme also resumed in the Black Caviar Lightning running a brave third in a dramatic edition of the sprint classic that saw Terravista lose momentum when hoop Damien Oliver dropped and regained his whip before running second.
The bookmakers now have Chautauqua ($4.40) and Japonisme ($6) as the ones to beat on Super Saturday back at Flemington for the $1.5 million Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) on March 12.
Exosphere is set to bypass the rematch and is unlikely to run again before April 2 where he runs in the $2.5 million Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) on Day 1 of Sydney’s The Championships at Royal Randwick.
“We’ll bring him home now and run him on tracks where the bias doesn’t have a major impact on where we finish,” O’Shea said.
“We’re just better off running him where those scenarios don’t eventuate, basically where barriers and other variables that can impact performance or finishing position aren’t evident.”
The Team Hawkes-trained Chautauqua won last autumn’s TJ Smith Stakes, while the last three-year-old to win the feature was Gerald Ryan’s filly Melito (2010).
No three-year-old male has won the race since Century Kid (2001), however Exosphere is the $4.40 second favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au behind the defending champion to break the drought this Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
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