Co-trainer Murray Baker is hoping the stables visiting New Zealand youngster Saracino can stack-up to the local three-year-olds in the Danehill Stakes 2016 this Saturday at Flemington.
A dozen three-year-old sprinters face off in the $200,000 Group 2 Danehill Stakes (1200m) down the famous straight-six on Makybe Diva Stakes Day including Per Incanto colt Saracino.
Baker prepares the progressive galloper in partnership with Andrew Forsman at Cambridge in NZ, Saturday the first time Saracino runs in Australia for the stable.
At home the up-and-comer has won just one of his four starts, breaking his maiden status first-up on August 13 at Te Rapa in the Group 2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m).
Saracino is also a Group 1 placegetter in the went from April in the Sires’ Produce over 1400m, so any rain around in Melbourne will aid his chances of securing the stakes win on Saturday.
He is drawn mid-field in barrier five with champion hoop Damien Oliver opting to stick in the saddle after partnering him in a recent jump-out, a positive sign according to Baker.
“The feedback from Damien was good, he seems to think the horse is in good order so that helps because he is the top of the tree in this part of the world,” Baker, who flew into Melbourne on Thursday, told Racing Victoria.
The downside form-wise is Saracino going up from 51.5kg last start to 56.5kg at set weights plus penalties in the Danehill Stakes, which he currently pays $7 through Ladbrokes.com.au to win.
Baker is also a little unsure how his Group 2 win first-up will hold up when he takes on a field of in-form runners his own age over 1200m on Saturday.
“He was a fit horse and I think a few of the older horses were just getting going so it is a bit hard to equate where he is at,” he said.
“We are hoping he can run a good 1200m, whether he is quick enough tomorrow we will find out.”
How Saracino handles the imposing straight at Flemington will also be key to his winning chances according to Baker who predicts Oliver will have the horse just off the front-runners after the jump.
“He has led in his four races but he doesn’t have to, he is a good barrier horse, probably hope he just runs off the pace,” he said.
The Danehill Stakes odds are led by the 58kg top weight Defcon ($4.20) whose hoop Dwayne Dunn will be working to keep him out of trouble from the inside alley.
Defcon is prepared by Peter & Paul Snowden in Sydney, but has winning Victorian form having taken out the Group 3 H.D.F. McNeil Stakes (1200m) first-up with Dunn in the saddle.
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