The Lee & Anthony Freedman-trained sprint specialist Ruettiger has opened favourite to secure back-to-back wins down the famous Flemington straight in the 2016 Aurie’s Star Handicap this weekend.
The Duporth five-year-old is one of a dozen remaining hopes in the $150,000 Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) for the first Group race of the new season in Melbourne.
The field for Flemington Race 7 at 3:50pm (AEST) on Saturday was reduced by one from the final acceptances after the scratching of Cindy Alderson’s rails-drawn mare Manageress who hasn’t raced since a second to Lucia Valentina in the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) on the final day of last year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Due to jump from barrier nine getting in on the 54kg minimum is the current $3.90 favourite in Aurie’s Star Handicap betting at Ladbrokes.com.au Ruettiger, who has Daniel Moor in the saddle.
Moor rode the gelding two back for a third behind Odyssey Moon over 1100m at the track before top hoop Craig Williams took over for the Listed All Victorian Sprint Series Final (1200m) win over Voodoo Lad on July 9.
Ruettiger has now won three and placed second once from his six previous runs over the 1200m he sees again this weekend in the Aurie’s Star.
A host of other sprinters join the favourite at single-figures in the Aurie’s Star Handicap odds including Sooboog ($6) who is one of two in the mix for last year’s Melbourne Cup winning trainer Darren Weir.
Jumping one wider than the top fancy in gate 10, Weir’s four-year-old Snitzel stallion comes off a fourth when only a length off the winner Lord Von Costa in the Listed Creswick Series Final (1200m) at Flemington.
He’s had the freshen-up between runs and comes back from 56kg that start to 54kg on the weekend with apprentice Michael Dee booked to partner the Group 2 placed and Group 1 performed up-and-comer who is after his first win since last September in Sydney.
Occupying the third line of betting is early market mover Smart Volatility ($7.50 into $6.50), John Sargent’s Hong Kong expat coming off a Listed Ramornie Handicap (1200m) win at Grafton.
The imported Danewin gelding may be an eight-year-old but he has had only 25 career runs and sees Melbourne for the first time this weekend chasing successive Black-Type victories down under.
In the Ramornie on July 13 he overcame barrier 14 of 14 and scored a narrow victory over Big Money as a $21 shot with Tye Angland aboard on 57.5kg.
After a subsequent Randwick trial victory on July 29, he travels south for the Group 3 at Flemington where Angland retains the ride this time from barrier two with a kilo more going up to 58.5kg.
Rounding out the hopes under $10 for the win are Mighty Like ($7) in the outside alley, retiring mare Beirut ($7) who could bypass the race in favourite of an Adelaide run and the 59kg top weight Dibayani ($9.50) for Lindsay Park.
Mighty Like has Damien Oliver aboard this weekend, the Mick Price-trained Host seven-year-old coming off a win over the track and distance from July 23.
He carried 58.5kg to victory that day from an inside barrier two draw, so while drawn wider out in 12 of 12 for Saturday he’ll appreciate getting back down to 55kg.
Henry Dwyer prepares in-form Lonhro mare Beirut, the six-year-old coming off four straight wins with Saturday her swansong start before heading to the breeding barn.
Her last run on July 16 was a half-length victory over Nadeem Lass at Caulfield, but she could be heading to Morphettville on Saturday for the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1200m) to see out her career on the track.
David & Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig are confident the straight track will suit returning European import Dibayani, the Shamardal seven-year-old charged with carrying the big weight in his first run since a ninth to Lucia Valentina in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick in April.
Check out the full Aurie’s Star Handicap 2016 odds below, fixed win betting open now at our No. 1 recommended bookie Ladbrokes.com.au!