Gun Victorian horseman Darren Weir continues his bid to break through with a Sydney Group 1 win saddling-up Voodoo Lad in the 2017 TJ Smith Stakes field this Saturday at Royal Randwick.
The $2.5 million Group 1 Darley TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) field is announced on Tuesday morning ahead of the weight-for-age sprint taking place as one of four elite levels on Day 1 of ‘The Championships’.
Weir originally nominated for three sprinters from his stables, but confirmed to Racing Victoria this week that his sole runner would be I Am Invincible five-year-old Voodoo Lad.
The galloper will be Weir’s first runner in the TJ Smith Stakes and comes into the Sydney feature on the back of a brave second behind Redkirk Warrior in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) down the Flemington straight on March 11.
“He showed he was up to them in the Newmarket and he’s just going great so he’s going for the T.J. Smith,” Weir said.
“He never seems to run a bad race and he’s going as good as ever.”
The Lindsay Park-trained Hong Kong expat Redkirk Warrior also races on Saturday, stepping up in distance for the $3 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m).
Voodoo Lad meanwhile will stick to the sprint distance looking to become the fourth TJ Smith Stakes winner in as many years to back-up from a Newmarket Handicap run.
The double was achieved by Lankan Rupee in 2014, before Chautauqua improved on a second in 2015 and then enjoyed back-to-back TJ Smith Stakes victories last year off a third in the Newmarket.
That is despite the fact the stable are leaning towards stepping Chautauqua up to 1600m for the first time in the Doncaster Mile after his third to Winx last time out in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) run on a Heavy (10) Rosehill track on March 18.
Voodoo Lad can be found further down the pre-field TJ Smith Stakes betting markets at $15 for the win, which would continue a fairy tale career for the $36,000 bargain buy as a yearling.
Weir will save stablemate Hellbent for a run over the extra 200m on April 15 in the $600,000 Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) after the four-year-old finished a luckless second to Silent Sedition in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
As for the Doncaster Mile field, Weir plans to saddle-up Palentino and Tosen Stardom in the race trainer Chris Waller has dominated in the past four years.
“They’re both going really well and couldn’t be happier with them but it’s going to be some sort of race and these races are never easy to win,” he said.
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