The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Ken Keys’ three-year-old colt Soul Patch will backup this weekend in the $2 million Victoria Derby (2500m) fresh from a commanding win in last weeks Drummond Golf Vase at The Valley.
The son of Shamus Award won by 2.5 lengths last Saturday after making up ground from the back to swoop in late. It was a stunning ride from jockey Dwayne Dunn, who will now saddle the early market mover this weekend in the hopes of earning Keys his first-ever Group 1 victory.
It’s a big day for Keys as the long-time trainer has two Group 1 runners going around for the first time in his career. Six-year-old mare Spanish Reef will line up in the Empire Rose Stakes two races prior to the Derby, but as far as Soul Patch goes, Keys thinks the last two weeks could lead to further success.
“He pulled up amazingly well. We did a little bit of work this morning to take the top off him, and we did that with ease. The last couple of weeks have been comfortable in work,” Keys told RSN’s Racing Pulse on Thursday morning.
Last week’s comfortable victory boiled down to a simple decision to race with the blinkers on. After failing to run a place in the Caulfield Guineas two weeks earlier, Keys went on to say that a decision had to be made.
“After the Guineas we had to do something. We were disappointed not in his effort in the Guineas, but that we didn’t get into the race when we needed to, and that was through just not switching on, so that choice wasn’t that hard” Keys said when asked on the gear change.
Keys toyed with the idea of removing the headgear following last weeks win but it now appears he’ll stick with what’s working. Considering Group 1 glory has eluded him throughout his 35 odd years of training, it’s probably a wise move.
“We’ve probably never had the stock, we’ve tried at different times. We’re rich enough, but you’ve got to get Group 1 product” Keys said of never having won a Group 1 race.
Soul Patch remains the $4.50 second-elect in Ladbrokes’ Victoria Derby market behind $3.40 favourite Shadow Hero. It took a long time for the three-year-old to pull up last week at The Valley after showing so much speed through the line, so you can expect to see Soul Patch sitting midfield before moving up on the speed in the late stages on Saturday.
“He’s not a get back horse by nature. I think six, seven, something like that” Keys said when asked on the race plan.
As for life after the Derby, Keys said “without doubt” that Soul Patch would be headed back to the paddock.
Ladbrokes’ full Victoria Derby market can be viewed here.
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