The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Last year’s Magic Millions 2YO Classic winner Exhilarates is considered one of the best chances to take out Queensland’s premier race on Saturday with money coming for the Godolphin-raced filly in Stradbroke Handicap 2020 betting.
A capacity field of winter hopefuls will line-up in the Group 1 $350,000 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on the weekend, the reduced prize money due to COVID-19 not affecting the class of the runners.
Occupying the current fourth line of betting at firming Stradbroke Handicap odds of $8.50 through Ladbrokes.com.au is one of four in the mix for Godolphin and trainer James Cummings, Exhilarates drawn a treat in barrier four.
The well-performed daughter of Snitzel looks on the rise and is out to break a notable winning drought going back to last September’s Listed Atlantic Jewel Stakes (1200m) at The Valley.
She has been competitive in plenty since including her third behind superstar Queenslander Alligator Blood at the Gold Coast in January’s Magic Millions 3YO Guineas.
This campaign she has run in the money twice more behind fellow Stradbroke Handicap hopefuls Hightail in the Group 3 Gold Coast Guineas (3rd) and Dawn Passage in last weekend’s Group 3 Fred Best Classic (2nd) at Doomben.
Dropping from 55kg last Saturday to just 49.5kg in the Stradbroke Handicap, Exhilarates looks a huge hope on a light weight with the roomier Eagle Farm track to suit on the quick back-up according to Cummings.
“One of the things I’ve always had in mind with Exhilarates is her ability to back-up off a seven-day break,” he told AAP.
“She did it in the Magic Millions which was probably her best win in a robust two-year-old campaign.
“She’s in good shape here with no weight on her back, third-up off that seven-day break.”
Jockey Taylor Marshall rides Exhilarates looking to repeat the feat of his father John who guided the Bart Cummings-trained Stradbroke Handicap winners Campaign King (1988) and Robian Steel (1989) to victory over three decades ago.
Last weekend’s Fred Best Classic winning colt Dawn Passage remains the $4.60 favourite in the Stradbroke markets for Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott despite the three-year-old drawing the extreme outside barrier.
Historically the wide gates have been a non-issue with 16 of the past 30 Stradbroke Handicap winners jumping from barrier 10 or wider.
In that time the far outside alley (18 of 18) that Dawn Passage jumps from this season has produced the equal record of four winners.
Cummings will be pleased with those stats for the stable’s other most likely, reigning Stradbroke Handicap winner Trekking paying $7 to carry the 58kg topweight to victory from barrier 17.
Trekking won the race last year from a single-figure barrier carrying 54kg and comes into the race this season on the back of a Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) victory in Adelaide.
The other single-figure hopeful in the mix easing out from $7.50 to $8 is last start Group 2 Victory Stakes winner at the track Victorem.
Of the roughie hopes, the big move for an upset has been on the rails-drawn Bam’s On Fire ($31 into $26) for Ciaron Maher & David Eustace.
The ultra-consistent Universal Ruler mare has run top three in her five latest runs including a trio of second placings in Group company in Melbourne.
She then won the Group 3 Victoria Handicap (1400m) at Caulfield over the Stradbroke distance carrying 56kg and gets into the Group 1 field on just 51kg.
The four-year-old is also no stranger to elite company having last been seen running third to Bella Vella at Morphettville’ in the Group 1 Robert Sangster Stakes (1200m) with 56.5kg on her back.
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