North America could have their maiden runner in a Melbourne Cup field in 2016 with the USA’s premier stayer Da Big Hoss among the strong international contingent nominated for this year’s edition of the two mile classic.
Racing Victoria received 124 nominations on Tuesday for the $6.2 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m), the ‘race that stops a nation’ running as Flemington Race 7 on Tuesday November 1.
While total entries were down on last year the number of international raiders is at 31 for the third year in a row.
Among the standout overseas-trained Melbourne Cup nominations this spring is the Michael J Maker-trained Da Big Hoss from the USA.
The Skychai Racing LLC-owned Lemon Drop Kid stallion has won his past three starts on the trot, including the Belmont Gold Cup Invitational over the two miles back in June.
His latest run produced a Group 3 American St. Leger (2716m) victory at Arlington on August 13 and put him right in the frame for a trip down under to target the Melbourne Cup.
Racing Victoria’s chief handicapper Greg Carpenter praised the class of this year’s possible international Melbourne Cup raiders.
“The Emirates Melbourne Cup is the world’s premier staying race and the quality of the local and international entries for this year’s race is outstanding,” he said.
“The depth amongst the international contingent is once again exceptional.”
Carpenter was especially excited about the possibility of North America having its first representation in the capacity 24-starter Melbourne Cup field.
“It is an exciting prospect for the Melbourne Cup to have its first United States-trained runner in the form of North America’s premier stayer Da Big Hoss, who has been nominated by trainer Michael Maker and connections,” he said.
The shortest-priced stayer in the latest all-in Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Order Of St George ($11) from Ireland.
O’Brien has a total of seven Melbourne Cup nominees this year and chases his first ‘Loving Trophy’ having prepared one third placegetter in the race so far.
Among his other possible runners this year are recent Group 2 winner in York over the mile and a half Idaho who also finished second in the Irish Derby two back and Curragh Cup winning Galileo stallion Sword Fighter.
Along with the Ascot Gold Cup winner and early favourite, Carpenter named a number of other top internationals including Goodwood Cup winner Big Orange (UK), Ebor winner Heartbreak City (IRE) and Tenno Sho runner-up Curren Mirotic (JPN).
The Michael Bell-trained Big Orange ran fifth in the race last year behind Prince Of Penzance and was last seen taking out the Group 2 Goodwood Cup (3219m) in late July carting a hefty 61kg to victory.
Big Orange is a $26 chance in futures Melbourne Cup betting, while Japan’s Curren Mirotic is rated a $21 shot.
The defending Melbourne Cup winner Prince Of Penzance meanwhile is at $31 to go back-to-back for Weir who nominated a total of 11 stayers.
“From an Australasian perspective, there is Darren Weir’s defending champion Prince Of Penzance, as well as a host of talented four-year-olds including three of last season’s Group 1 Derby winners and four of last season’s Group 1 Oaks winners,” Carpenter said.
His reference to last season’s champion three-year-olds was to: Tarzino (VRC Derby), Tavago (Australian Derby), Howard Be Thy Name (Queensland Derby); and the fillies Jameka (VRC Oaks), Sofia Rosa (ATC Oaks), Provocative (Queensland Oaks) and Fanatic (NZ Oaks).