With our regular horse racing guru Tim focusing on the meetings at Doomben and Rosehill, Stewart Brown is back to preview the action from Caulfield.
The track is likely to be in the Soft range given the recent weather and the rail is out 14 metres.
Find Stewart's preview and selections for all nine races below! You can also listen to Episode 61 of the Before You Bet Podcast, where Tim chats about today's Doomben and Rosehill meetings!
Best Bet: Race 3 - (7) Asgard Massif
Best Value: Race 8 - (6) Nariko
The opening race on the card is for the 2yos and there appears to be quite a few promising types here. I have settled on the Anthony Freedman trained (4) Wilmot Pass who is coming off a very impressive debut win at Moe where he ran good time including the fastest last 200m of the day and won with ease. The stable are having a good run with the babies this season and he can settle on the speed here and be mighty hard to hold out.
This looks a very open race for the 3yos with many of the main chances coming back in trip after contesting feature races in South Australia. I'm happy to stick with that form line and have (1) Star Missile on top. He was only fair last in the South Australian Derby but I'm not convinced he ran the 2500m. Back to 2000m here looks suitable and his previous start over this distance was excellent when forced to make a long wide run. Prior to that he ran 3rd here behind Grinzinger Star and Mr Quickie, both who went on to win in subsequent runs. He should settle back in the field but I would expect a tempo that allows him to run home out wide on the track. (5) Dogmatic from the Richard Laming stable looks to be one of the main dangers coming off a strong win last start at Ballarat. That was over 1600m and the rise to 2000m looks suitable given how strong he was through the line. On that occasion he found trouble around the home turn but picked himself up to still be too good. He was only first up that day so you would think he still has improvement to come.
Happy to be with the John Sadler trained (7) Asgard Massif here who I expect to drive up from the inside gate and lead without too much pressure. He comes off a last start win at Sandown leading all the way and gave a strong kick at the business end. He gets in very light thanks to the claim from Teo Nugent who will be best served to roll along in front. The small query will be how the fence is holding up as any clear sign of it not being the place to be will be to his disadvantage. If horses are coming down the middle then (12) Reef Master comes into calculations at a price. He ran 4th in the race won by Asgard Massif last start where he settled out the back and was given little chance of winning the way the race was run. Brett Prebble replaces Liam Riordan and the horse is adept in soft conditions.
Without doubt the toughest race of the day here with it hard to put the pen through most runners. There looks to be good speed on paper and for that reason I have settled on (3) Bag Raider who comes off a first up win at Bendigo in his first Australian run. On that occasion he settled off the speed before getting a gap in the straight and winning well. The form out of the race has been reasonable and the rise to 1600m looks suitable. His chances will be further enhanced should horses be coming down the middle of the track. (6) Boxachocolates looks one of the main dangers after an eye catching first up run at Flemington. On that occasion he settled well back before producing the 5th fastest last 200m of the meeting. The rise to 1600m suits and he has performed well second up and on soft ground before.
The older sprinters go around here and I'm happy to side with the veteran (1) Jungle Edge who should be able to control things in front. He ran 2nd in a similar race last start at this track but copped some pressure and was left a sitting shot for Order Of Command who has won again since. He will get the track conditions that he loves and will give the opposition something to run down. The main danger looks to be (2) Bandipur with Craig Williams back in the saddle. He had two good wins in April including one here before things didn't go exactly to plan at Flemington last start. He has a liking for soft ground and should be able to sit off Jungle Edge here and have every chance to run him down. The early favourite is William Thomas and he is another winning chance but he did have a race shape that suited him last start and may not get that here if they string out.
This is a very competitive race for the fillies and I'm leaning to those that are drawn out. I have settled on (7) Bam's On Fire who comes off a last start win in a similar race to this here at Caulfield where she was very strong through the line. On that occasion she settled just behind the leading pack before switching back to the inside and holding off one of her main rivals here in Propelle. Bam's On Fire raced on the inside section of the track that day which I feel wasn't the best ground. She is drawn out here which should enable her to get on speed and find the best part of the track when desired. (3) Propelle looks to be the obvious danger again and meets Bam's On Fire 4kg better for that defeat. Having said that I thought Propelle was on the best ground that day and all her wins are at 1000m so she still needs to tick that 1100m box.
The shortest priced favourite of the day goes around here in (3) Begood Toya Mother and he appears to have found another suitable race. He was spectacular in winning two starts back at Sandown before being more workman like last start at Flemington. The small query here looks to be the map and where he ends up from the outside gate as there are few that will be looking to push forward. If there is to be an upset then it may come from (8) Elite Drake who looks the likely leader in the race. He ran 3rd in a much tougher race than this last start after receiving a very easy run in front. The drop back in distance looks suitable and the horse drops 6kg in weight. Should the fence be holding up then he looks at least a great place chance as he does have a liking for soft tracks.
The mares lineup over 1200m here in what is a typically open affair. I have (4) Miss Vixen on top who has been in great form all preparation. Her run two starts back at Caulfield is a great pointer for this as it was over the 1200m in a tougher race where she settled back in the field and ran Iconoclasm to a narrow margin. The track will be softer on Saturday but she has run well enough in those conditions before and will have every chance to swoop home down the middle. The small concern is that she has only won 3 from 19 and given her racing style can quite often find one or two better. The chances don't end there with the Mick Price trained (6) Nariko appearing to have a great chance. She has had two runs back this time in and on both occasions hasn't found much room at the business end of the race. She should be able to get on speed here and has a liking for soft ground. The favourite (8) Petrelle looks a good chance also and should be able to find the front here for Craig Williams. The queries are that all her best form is on dry ground, she still needs to tick the 1200m box and I'm not totally convinced she is going as well as she was earlier in her career.
The last race of the day is over the 2000m with plenty of familiar names going around. I'm happy to play two horses here in (3) Pacodali and (4) Morton's Fork who both come through a race at Flemington last start. Pacodali on that occasion settled close to the speed and got a split early in the straight to sprint through and take the lead, he looked the winner before getting run over in the last 50-100m. He was arguably racing in inferior ground which wouldn't have helped him. He should be spot on now having had four runs back from a spell and it really is D-Day for him. Morton's Fork ran 3rd in the same race and appeared to have every chance after settling well back. Craig Williams jumps on here who has a good record on the horse and he is drawn to settle close to the speed. The query is that most of his recent good performances have been on dry ground. (9) Live And Free is the early favourite and is definitely a good hope coming out of a race at Rosehill last start. He brings some fresh legs to the race and still has some scope about him whereas most of his opponents have reached their peak. I just feel he is currently short enough at his current prince.
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