Malaguerra to Defend Title in Darley Classic 2017

The Gelagotis stable has confirmed plans to set their smart sprinter Malaguerra on a spring campaign that will culminate in a 2017 Darley Classic title defence during the Melbourne Cup Carnival in November.

Malaguerra will seek to defend his crown in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) this season. Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos

Malaguerra will seek to defend his crown in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) this season. Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos

Last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival the son of Magnus enjoyed a devastatingly close win over Spieth (2nd) and Fell Swoop (3rd) down the iconic Flemington straight in the Group 1 $1 million Darley Classic (1200m).

Malaguerra has won just once since, getting home ahead of Black Heart Bart in the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley in January.

The now six-year-old was last seen finishing a disappointing 16th behind Vega Magic at Morphettville on May 20 in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m).

Illustrious Lad was also unplaced for Moe-based Peter Gelagotis and co. in The Goodwood running 13th and, like Malaguerra, has come through his subsequent spell well.

“They went to The Goodwood so we had to make sure that they had plenty of time off so they had good spells and they’ve come back big and strong,” stable representative Manny Gelagotis told Racing Victoria this week.

“They’re about to step up to some more serious work now before they make an appearance somewhere in October.

“There are plenty of options for them, obviously you’ve got the Darley Classic, but we might even look at the Winterbottom Stakes again.”

The Darley Classic is set to run on November 11, while Perth’s Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) headlines the Ascot racing action a fortnight later.

Malaguerra backed-up from his Darley Classic upset last year finishing fifth behind Takedown in the Winterbottom Stakes.

Pre-nomination Darley Classic betting markets at bookmakers around the country have Malaguerra at a quote of $12 to go back-to-back in the sprint feature for the first time since superstar mare Black Caviar (2010-11).

Current Darley Classic 2017 odds, which will firm when early entries close on September 26, are co-led by triple TJ Smith Stakes champion Chautauqua and Spieth.

Lead-up options into the Darley Classic field this season remain open for Illustrious Lad and Malaguerra, the latter having improved on a second to the Bryce Heys-trained Spieth in Caulfield’s Group 2 Schillaci Stakes (1100m) ahead of his Group 1 success last year.

The other best preparatory race having produced three of the past five Darley Classic winners including Buffering (2013), who was the last to do the double, is the Group 1 $1 million Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m) taking place at The Valley on Cox Plate eve – October 27 – this year.

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