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Local Flemington horseman Michael Moroney would prefer to keep Tulsa at home alongside stablemate Tivaci in Saturday’s Australian Guineas 2016 but is keeping Sydney’s Randwick Guineas as a back-up plan.
High Chaparral colt Tivaci is assured of a run in the $750,000 Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) this weekend after his win in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at the same track on February 20.
Tivaci snared the win after a protest with the Darren Weir-trained Palentino, who is also set to back-up for the rematch in the Australian Guineas, while the fellow Moroney-trained Tulsa crossed for third.
Ideally Moroney would love to have both of his youngsters in the capacity 16-starter Australian Guineas field as he shoots for his first win in the set weights classic.
While Tivaci is 15th on the order of entry, Tulsa is further down the Australian Guineas ballot (23rd) and could be enlisted as an emergency at best.
If that’s the case Plan B for the son of Sebring will be a trip to Randwick Racecourse in the $1 million Group 1 Girvan Waugh Randwick Guineas (1600m) where he is 14th on the ballot for the capacity 20-starter field.
“It’d be easier for him [Tulsa] to run around Flemington,” Moroney told Racing Victoria.
“He’s been around there a few times, and really raced well both times.
“We’d prefer to run here, but it’s a $1million race up there and he looks like he’s up to the better three-year-olds. So if we have to, we’ll take him up there.”
While his Saturday run is still to be locked in, Moroney is happy with the progress of Tulsa who he believes will be at his best third-up on the weekend.
“He’s trained on really well,” Moroney said.
“He’s one of those horses who’s not a great eater, and he doesn’t take a lot of work but he’s bounced through this run better than the first-up run.
“I’m really happy with him, he’s going the right way, looks really well and is certainly eating better.
“I thought if he hadn’t have ducked back in behind them, he might’ve won the race, so it was a good effort because at one stage he was a long way off them, about 3-4 lengths by himself.”
Should he head to Sydney Tulsa will face some tough competition including Chris Waller’s flying Hobartville Stakes winner first-up Press Statement.
Hinchinbrook colt Press Statement is already a dual Group 1 winner over the mile with wins in last year’s JJ Atkins in Brisbane and the Caulfield Guineas in Melbourne.
All-in Australian Guineas odds at bookies around the country have the Group 1 winning New Zealand visitor Xtravagant as the favourite ahead of Palentino and Mick Price’s Victoria Derby winner Tarzino.
Tarzino resumed with a fast-finishing fourth to the Weir-trained Mahuta in the Group 2 Autumn Stakes (1400m) on February 13 and is set to appreciate the extra metres in the Guineas.
Mahuta meanwhile scratched out from the Group 2 Autumn Classic last Saturday at Caulfield in favour of the Group 1 run over the Flemington mile this weekend, the Flying Spur colt shooting for his seventh win on the trot.
Tivaci pays $13 to win the Australian Guineas ahead of Tulsa at $15, the former having bounced back after his testing CS Hayes Stakes win that was marred by the incident with Palentino near the 900m mark last time out.
“He’s had a couple of quiet gallops, his most serious one will be tomorrow [Tuesday],” Moroney said on Monday.
“We’re really happy with the way he’s come through – being a colt we’ve had to keep on top of him a wee bit, work-wise, as opposed to Tulsa who doesn’t take as much work.
“He was a fraction stiff [after the CS Hayes], the track was pretty firm, but within a day or two he was back to normal.”
In pre-field Randwick Guineas betting at Ladbrokes.com.au Press Statement is the odds-on favourite at $1.70 despite Saturday being his first start at Randwick.
Kris Lees’ Hobartville Stakes third placegetter Montaigne ($7.50) and the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Thousand Guineas winning filly from the Spring Stay With Me ($9) are the next best fancied while Tivaci is currently rated a $15 shot for the Sydney clash.
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