The Daren Weir-trained Black Heart Bart and Kris Lees’ Sydney-based Group 1 winning mare Lucia Valentina are battling it out for top spot in the pre-field Underwood Stakes 2016 betting markets for this weekend.
One of two Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival elite levels on the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes Day card at Caulfield Racecourse on Saturday, this season’s $500,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) attracted 16 nominations on Monday.
Four come from the stables of flying Victorian horseman Weir including the early all-in $3.20 favourite in the early Underwood Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au Black Heart Bart.
The super-consistent Blackfriars six-year-old has run top two in his eight most recent runs including elite level wins in The Goodwood and the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield two back.
Last start Black Heart Bart ran a length away second to stablemate Palentino as the beaten favourite at Flemington in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m), and on Saturday the distance is the test again as he is yet to win over further than 1420m.
The other shortest-priced Underwood Stakes nominee in futures markets for one of the traditional lead-up races to the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) is Lees’ six-year-old daughter of Savabeel Lucia Valentina.
The triple Group 1 winning mare took out the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick back in April before a first-up fourth behind glamour mare Winx in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) on August 20.
She’s been freshened-up since and is back in Melbourne for the first time since her Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) success last Emirates Stakes Day.
The bookies are also taking no chances in the Underwood Stakes markets with last year’s Caulfield Cup third placed German import Our Ivanhowe ($6.50).
Prepared by Lee & Anthony Freedman, the seven-year-old Soldier Hollow stallion chases his first win since the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) in Brisbane back in May.
He comes off a fifth in the Makybe Diva Stakes; the last Underwood Stakes winner to back directly off a run in the Makybe Diva being Weekend Hussler (2008) who completed the double.
The last of the current single-figure hopes to win this year’s Underwood Stakes on Saturday at $9 is Awesome Rock who heads towards an October 22 run at Moonee Valley in the weight-for-age Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).
Leon & Troy Corstens prepare the Fastnet Rock five-year-old who was last seen winning the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at the Valley on September 3 by two lengths as a 31/1 roughie.
He won’t be found at those odds in the Underwood Stakes despite being yet to win from seven previous runs at the Caulfield track; Awesome Rock looking to become the third Underwood winner in as many years to come off the Dato’ joining Foreteller (3rd in 2014) and Mourinho (6th in 2015).
The other best fancied to win the Underwood Stakes before the release of the final field and barriers on Wednesday include: ATC Derby winning Kiwi expat Tavago ($13), the Lindsay Park-trained Makybe Diva Stakes third placegetter He Or She ($15) and Mick Price’s reigning VRC Derby champ from last spring Tarzino ($15).
Check out the latest Underwood Stakes 2016 betting markets, pricing provided by Ladbrokes.com.au.