New Zealand horseman Murray Baker continued his good run in Australia with smart three-year-olds preparing Saracino for a debut win down under in the Danehill Stakes 2016 at Flemington Racecourse.
The smart Per Incanto colt lined-up as one of a dozen chances in the $200,000 Group 2 Danehill Stakes (1200m) on Makybe Diva Stakes Day and jumped nicely from barrier five.
He had star local hoop Damien Oliver booked for the ride, Saracino coming off his maiden win on August 13 in the Group 2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) back home at Te Rapa.
The race favourite in the Danehill was Peter & Paul Snowden’s last start HDF McNeil Stakes winner Defcon who was away quick from the inside alley, the field all coming towards the Grandstand side of the famous straight after settling.
Saracino showed hot early pace as he had in all his previous starts back in New Zealand and found the front leading his rivals around, Defcon trying to go up on his left to challenge for front-running.
With 400m to go Saracino was still travelling along nicely up front with last start McKenzie Stakes runner-up at Moonee Valley Dam Ready trailing him in second.
Also starting to run on late was the John O’Shea-trained Archives first-up, while Phillip Stokes’ visiting filly from Adelaide Samara Dancer doing all the work out wide from the back.
Archives gave it his all over the final 100m but couldn’t run down the winner.
On the line Saracino ($6) and Oliver held it together in an all-the-way win over Archives ($6) who was strong to the line with improvement to come later this prep, Hinchinbrook filly Samara Dancer ($12) finishing off the Danehill Stakes trifecta in third.
The question for Baker is now whether Saracino has a mile in him this campaign to stretch out for a shot at the $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m).
Based on how he felt in the Danehill, jockey Oliver wasn’t convinced the horse would see out a strong 1600m just yet.
“He was good,” Oliver said post-win.
“He showed me a lot of raw potential.
“When Murray brings one over…they’re going to be competitive.
“He was able to sit up on the pace, face the wind and stick on strong.
“He’s got good speed, but not sure if he can stretch out to a mile at this stage.”
Baker confirmed a shot at the 2016 Caulfield Guineas was an option, but if Saracino shaped up as a better 1200m – 1400m three-year-old plans could be changed for a shot at the $500,000 Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) back at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day, October 29.
“I thought it was a very brave effort,” he said of the Danehill Stakes win.
“He was in front a long way out.’
“You’d like to think he’d make the Caulfield Guineas but he might not be a miler. He might be a strong sprinter down the straight.
“There are plenty of options for him.”
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2016 Danehill Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Flemington Race 5 – 10/09/2016
|1||3||SARACINO (NZ)||Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman||Damien Oliver||–||5||56.5kg||$6|
|2||4||ARCHIVES||John O’Shea||Craig Williams||0.4L||10||56.5kg||$6.50|
|3||12||SAMARA DANCER (NZ)||Phillip Stokes||Dom Tourneur||1.15L||9||55.5kg||$11|
|4||10||WAZZENME||Stuart Webb||Luke Nolen||1.65L||7||56kg||$12|
|5||9||DAM READY||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Luke Currie||2.15L||6||56kg||$12|
|6||5||VALLIANO||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Damian Lane||2.65L||2||56kg||$19|
|7||11||HARDHAM||Mick Price||Craig Newitt||3.15L||3||56kg||$19|
|8||1||DEFCON||Peter & Paul Snowden||Dwayne Dunn||4.15L||1||58kg||$3.20F|
|9||2||TRENCHANT||John O’Shea||Michael Dee (a)||9.15L||8||56.5kg||$61|
|10||6||HIGHLAND BEAT||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Mark Zahra||9.35L||4||56kg||$11|
|11||7||DREAMS APLENTY||John Zielke||Bobby El-Issa||12.6L||12||56kg||$15|
|12||8||JAWS OF STEEL||Robbie Laing||Chris Parnham||18.6L||11||56kg||$51|