Darren Weir plays a dominant hand in the Underwood Stakes 2016 field at Caulfield Racecourse this weekend saddling-up three of the 11 final acceptors including early favourite Black Heart Bart.
Set to run as Caulfield Race 8 at 4:55pm (AEST) as the penultimate event on Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes Day, this year’s $500,000 Group 1 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) has attracted a star-studded field of previous Group 1 winners.
Drawn in barrier seven, which last produced a winner a decade ago with El Segundo (2006), is Weir’s top fancy in Underwood Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.com.au Black Heart Bart ($3.40).
Jockey Brad Rawiller won the Underwood Stakes on the hot favourite Weekend Hussler back in 2008 and gets the chance to salute for the punters again, booked to return to the saddle of Blackfriars six-year-old Black Heart Bart.
He rode the former Perth-trained galloper three times on the trot including wins in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) in Adelaide and Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.
Damien Oliver replaced the suspended Rawiller last start when Black Heart Bart ran a brave second as the beaten favourite only a length off his winning stablemate Palentino in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 10.
Weir and the bookmakers are confident Black Heart Bart can atone on Saturday and handle the extra metres in the Underwood Stakes despite the horse having winning form only up to 1420m.
Weir’s other Underwood Stakes acceptors are his reigning Melbourne Cup winner Prince Of Penzance ($31) who tracks towards a Cox Plate Day run in the $300,000 Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m) and SA Derby winner Howard Be Thy Name ($41).
Along with Black Heart Bart the Underwood Stakes markets currently feature three other single-figure hopes including close second elect Lucia Valentina ($3.60).
The Kris Lees-trained Savabeel six-year-old is the only mare taking on the boys and is out to become the first female Underwood Stakes winner since Tristarc (1985) over 30 years ago.
Lucia Valentina chases her first win since the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick in April and comes off a brave first-up fourth behind champion Cox Plate winner Winx in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) from August 20.
The other best fancied in the Underwood Stakes odds are the Lee & Anthony Freedman-trained German import Our Ivanhowe ($6.50) and last start Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes winner Awesome Rock ($7.50) for Leon & Troy Corstens.
Kerrin McEvoy rides last year’s Caulfield Cup third placegetter Our Ivanhowe on Saturday as co-trainer Lee Freedman chases his third win in the Underwood Stakes following previous success with: Runyon (1993) and Mummify (2003).
A seven-year-old Soldier Hollow stallion, Our Ivanhowe enjoyed a Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) victory in Brisbane over the winter before a last start Makybe Diva Stakes fifth.
Awesome Rock is on track for a shot at the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22 after winning the ballot exemption in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) on September 3.
The Fastnet Rock five-year-old has regular rider Stephen Baster aboard again in the Underwood Stakes and is out to become the third winner in has many years to back-up from the Dato’ following Foreteller (3rd in 2014) and Mourinho (6th in 2015).
Last year’s winning trainer Peter Gelagotis meanwhile is back chasing successive Underwood Stakes trophies this season with former Tasmanian-trained The Cleaner ($17) jumping from the outside alley (11).
Check out the full Underwood Stakes 2016 field, barriers, jockeys and latest Fixed Win odds provided by our No. 1 recommended bookmaker Ladbrokes.com.au below.