The track is currently a Soft 5 and there's 2-5mm of rain predicted for Thursday so I suspect we'll stay around that mark. The rail moves out 3m from Melbourne Cup day to the 6m position.
Another huge nine-race card awaits us and we've gone through every race below!
Best Bet: Race 9 - (2) California Zimbol
Best Value Bet: Race 4 - (16) Affair To Remember
Really interesting way to start the day. On form, it really is hard to tip against (8) Impi, who is now the $1.50 favourite after the scratching of Reserve Street. He suffered the first defeat of his career last start when beaten 0.7L by Harbour Views, who is undefeated himself. That looks a particularly good form line for what is seemingly a pretty thin race here. Kerrin McEvoy is booked to ride and he's quite clearly the horse to beat. The little nugget of information I found worrying was trainer Pat Carey's record outside Mornington this season. He's had five winners from 20 starters at Mornington, but zero winners from 54 runners elsewhere. One I thought was well over the odds and will be my bet in the race is (9) Mahis Angel at $21. He ran well first up under a big weight before a poor showing last start, but he's never run a place second up before. He tends to bounce back third up though, he's got two 2nd placings from two starts when third up. He was beaten a nose over this distance third up last prep on a heavy track, so he will handle the potentially wet ground and I'd expect him to be a good place chance here, so with $4.00 available for him to run a drum that's the way I'll go.
The two-year-old race of the day has nine runners on debut. No need to get too involved here but we had some luck on Melbourne Cup day in a similar race by following some of the usual stables that normally go well in these races. The Lindsay Park horse won Tuesday's race and the same combination line up here with (8) Hard Landing. Luke Nolen rides for David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig and he's a $9.00 chance. (11) Arctic Ice is one I'll be having something on. It's had one career start where it charged home at Moonee Valley to be beaten a nose. It finished off in 11.66sec for the final 200m an was one of only two horses in the race to break 12 seconds. (10) Tagaloa is the favourite as it stands after winning a trial at Moe but if he's a $4.80 chance then (7) Glenfiddich shouldn't be an $11 chance. He finished off nicely in the same trial without being asked to do anything. (5) Castlecomer for Chris Waller and James McDonald warrants respect while (9) Rathlin for Maher/Eustace and Zahra must also be considered. Backing Hard Landing and Arctic Ice.
The greys race here has two runners I'm keen on. (10) Bumper Blast was backed as if unbeatable at Sale last start and was in a different postcode to the rest, winning by 6.75L. Craig Williams rode him that day and retains the ride here. He should roll forward from barrier 11 and be hard to run down based on what we saw last start. I think the value in the race is the Tasmanian horse (7) Sir Simon. Trainer Scott Brunton (who also trains The Inevitable) brings this horse across to Melbourne and whenever he brings horses across they generally go very well. This horse is a winner of four races from six starts and is undefeated on soft ground. He should also press forward to lead from the good draw and I think he'll give a very good sight from the front at each way odds. Backing both.
Probably the most open race of the day with 16 to line up over 1700m. I think (16) Affair To Remember is a good each way bet at $9.00. I was keen on her on Derby Day at big odds but she was an emergency and didn't get a run. She was a strong winner first up at Geelong and then contested a Listed race at Caulfield last start, where she looked to be hitting the line hard before being held up for the last 75m of the race. The big straight at Flemington will allow her to wind up from the back of the field and the soft ground will be no issue. The step up to 1700m also looks suitable. (15) Nudge looks the one hardest to beat for Waller and Bowman. She ran 3rd to La Falaise and Fascino at Moonee Valley in G2 company last start and she didn't get a whole lot go her way in the straight. She draws well in barrier 4 and can be very competitive again. (2) So You Swing is racing consistently and can go well again.
Good little race here for the sprinters down the straight. The one they have to beat is (1) Ball Of Muscle who ran 2nd to Trekking in the Schillachi Stakes last start. Trekking then went on to run 3rd in the Everest and then 2nd in the Redzel Stakes last weekend so the form is obviously very strong. He has a good third up record with four wins from seven starts and the blinkers go back on today so he's going to be in this for a long way. (2) Crystal Dreamer looks a good price at double figure odds. He won first up over 1100m at Caulfield where he beat Ball Of Muscle who was back in 3rd. He was unlucky last start where he didn't get a lot of room in the straight behind Miss Leonidas. He's won three of his six starts when third up from a spell, he's finished in the money in all three starts over the track and distance, the wide draw looks suitable and he appears a good winning chance again. (6) Badajoz looks big odds at $17. He improved significantly last start when beaten 1.7L behind Miss Leonidas and he was closing off well in the straight. His third up record is very good with two wins and two placings from five starts and he has three wins and three placings from seven starts on soft ground. He can win this. The chances don't end there in an open race.
Excited to see (1) Harbour Views go around again today in search of his sixth career win from as many starts. He did a good job to win last start after sitting three-wide the trip at Geelong and prior to that he ran home in the best sectionals of the entire meeting at Caulfield. He won't be sitting wide from barrier 1 today but he might need some luck in the straight. He has to carry 61.5kg here but he's a horse with Group 1 potential and he can win again today. (4) O'tauto ran 2nd to Harbour Views last start, which was his first run back from a 33-week spell. He's not short of talent himself and he gets a 1.5kg weight swing in his favour today. He's drawn out in barrier 15 but he'll be the one working home late. (13) No Money No Honey could be worth including at big odds. She charged home first up and has won two from three when second up from a spell.
Looks a race between the top three in the market here. (10) Russian Camelot was an impressive winner on debut at Ballarat, coming from off the pace to charge home over the top of them. The winning margin was 1.75L and her last 200m was the fastest of the entire meeting. Her breeding suggests a soft track will be no problem at all. She's drawn well in barrier 5 for Damien Oliver and Cup winning trainer Danny O'Brien, who are flying as a combination this season. She looks hard to beat. (3) Pancho comes down from Sydney after running 2nd to Kubrick in the Bondi Stakes. Prior to that he beat Romani Girl who then won her next start. The Sydney form has proved strong this week and he looks well placed. (1) Quick Thinker ran 3rd to Shadow Hero and Castelvecchio two starts ago before finishing 5th in the Spring Champion Stakes last start. He goes well on wet ground so any rain will help and he drops significantly in class today so has to be going close.
I think this could be a two horse race. (1) Miami Bound was the winner of the Wakeful Stakes on Derby Day. She got the perfect run and was strong to the line to hold off (4) Vegas Jewel by 0.3L, who she meets again today. There was a 6L gap to the 3rd horse which indicates the first two are pretty smart. Her Wakeful Stakes win was on soft ground so she'll handle the track conditions and she's had two runs over 2000m leading into this so I think she's got a good platform to tackle the 2500m. The query is the five day back up from last Saturday but this is her grand final and has been all prep so I'd be surprised if she wasn't in the finish. (3) Gamay is the other one I'm keen on at $6.00. She was the last start winner of the G2 Ethereal Stakes at Caulfield and she also beat Vegas Jewel by a similar margin to what Miami Bound did in the Wakeful. Gamay should arguably be unbeaten this prep; she hasn't had much luck in her two defeats. Ryan Moore jumps on board for the big race today as Coolmore's leading rider, she's drawn barrier 1 so will have a soft run and we've seen the Ethereal Stakes prove a good form race in recent editions of the Oaks. Notably, five of the last six winners of the Oaks won their last start, the exception being Lasqueti Spirit at 100/1. The race is between Miami Bound ($3.80) and Gamay ($6.00) for mine, I'll be backing both and keeping it pretty simple.
We close out the day with a 15-runner straight race for the three-year-old fillies, which are never easy but there looks one clear standout in the race and it's my best bet of the meeting. (2) California Zimbol surely proves very tough to beat. She's been very impressive in two starts this preparation, with a dominant first up victory in Sydney followed by a dominant victory in G3 company at Caulfield last start. She gave Loving Gaby a beating on that occasion and Loving Gaby then came out and won the G1 Manikato Stakes, so on that basis California Zimbol looks incredibly hard to beat in a G3 race against her own age and own sex. The only query is it is her first start down the straight, which can sometimes bring horses undone, but I think she's a class above this field and if she runs anywhere near her best she'll win. (4) Absolute Flirt is some sort of chance at double figure odds. She was disappointing last start but her form prior was very good. She's run 2nd in two starts over the track and distance and can bounce back to form here.
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