Co-trainer Lee Freedman has confirmed Malaguerra must run very well if not win Saturday’s BTC Cup 2016 in Brisbane to keep the Stradbroke Handicap on the cards for the smart four-year-old.
A four-year-old son of Magnus prepared by Lee & Anthony Freedman, Malaguerra is one of 19 nominees for the $500,000 Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben Racecourse this weekend.
He currently pays $6 as the third favourite in all-in BTC Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au trailing Matthew Dale’s Victory Stakes winner Fell Swoop ($4) and the Chris Waller-trained three-year-old Japonisme ($5) to win the weight-for-age Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival classic.
From the start of his campaign, the Freedmans have been eyeing the $1.5 million Group 1 AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm Racecourse on June 11 with Malaguerra.
He remains high up the futures markets for the handicap clash sitting on the second line of betting at $6 behind only Ciaron Maher’s Queen Of The Turf Stakes winning mare Azkadellia ($4.80).
While Freedman is confident Malaguerra is a genuine handicap sprinter, he believes the horse must prove himself in weight-for-age company in the BTC Cup if he is to stay on the Stradbroke path.
“There are different types of Group 1 sprinters – there’s handicap sprinters, and there’s the horses that make the grade at weight-for-age,” Freedman told Racing Victoria.
“He hasn’t proven that yet.
“We’ll approach Saturday with the view he’s got to run very well in that to keep heading towards the Stradbroke, because horses in form win those races, and horses that aren’t, don’t.”
A winner of nine of his 17 starts to date, the gelding’s latest victory was at Rosehill on March 26 in the Group 3 Star Kingdom Stakes (1200m).
He then went to Randwick on April 16 for a shot at the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) where he finished 4.6 lengths off the Gai Waterhouse-trained winner English.
Freedman is yet to win the BTC Cup but did prepare the 1996 Stradbroke Handicap winner Danasinga two decades ago, the stallion saluting at 16/1 after a last start ninth in the A.D. Hollindale Stakes on the Gold Coast.
This year’s edition of the Group 1 A.D. Hollindale Stakes (1800m) ran last Saturday with Leebaz scoring an upset win when successfully defending his title from 2015.
The Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained Zabeel six-year-old is now on track for another run in the $650,000 Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) on May 21.
Leebaz was runner-up to Streama in the 2014 Doomben Cup before a disappointing 14th to Pornichet beaten 11.3 lengths last year on the back of his Hollindale win.
The current Doomben Cup odds have him at $11 to take out the crown this season, markets led by the John O’Shea-trained four-year-old Hauraki ($5) who ran a length away second in the Hollindale.
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