Top trainers’ big chance in Red Badge
If champion trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman haven’t landed a black-type win in the first two Group races at Hastings on Saturday, it could all change in the Gr.3 Red Badge Sprint.
Baker and Forsman have a strong contingent of 10 runners at the Hawke’s Bay meeting and will be represented in each of the three major events.
|Francaletta Photo: Kenton Wright Race Images|
I Got You will start in the Gr.2 Sacred Falls Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m), while Saint Emilion and Mime will be their hopes in the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m). Their attention will then then switch to stablemates Eleonora and Francaletta in the Gr.3 Red Badge Spring Sprint (1400m) and it’s the latter who could be their best prospect of a black-type win on the card.
Francaletta slips in on the 53kg minimum, has drawn ideally at barrier two and is unbeaten in three starts on the Hastings track.
She beat the smart Dolcetto at Hastings in her second and third starts last spring in special conditions events then returned to the course last month when scoring an impressive fresh-up win over Miss Wilson and Ferrando over 1200m.
With a record of five wins in her first six starts, Francaletta was expected to win again second-up when hot favourite in the Gr.3 Metric Mile at Awapuni (1550m), but the High Chaparral mare had to settle for fifth to Dolcetto on a heavy 10 surface.
“She got through the track well enough, but it was more the step up to a mile. It was just too tough for her second-up,” Forsman said. “She just knocked up the last bit.”
But Forsman is adamant it will be a different outcome on Saturday.
“She looks well. She has never been better this time in,” Forsman said.
“The only concern is a firm track. She’s a big, strong mare with not the best joints, but they can usually get away with one on top of the ground.
“She’s got a lovely draw and there looks a bit of speed in it so she should get a good run.”
Michael Coleman will continue his association with Francaletta, while Matt Cameron will ride stablemate Eleonora, who will be making an overdue return to racing.
Eleonora, winner of the Gr.3 Ethereal Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield and third in the Gr.1 VRC Crown Oaks (2500m), hasn’t started since last March when she won the Gr.3 McKee Family Sunline Vase (2100m) at Ellerslie.
“She was all set to go to Sydney for the autumn but pulled a muscle and has had a slow build-up,” Forsman said. “She’s been plagued by the wet tracks and that’s affected her preparation.”
Eleonora did have one trial last July when third at Te Awamutu, but she hasn’t been sighted since.
“We’d have liked to have given her another trial but it hasn’t been possible with the wet tracks,” Forsman said. “If we could have got a couple of trials into her she could run a cheeky race. She still could, she’s a smart mare.”
Eleonora has been served by champion sire Savabeel and the outcome of scan results next week will determine her racing career.
Baker and Forsman will be hoping for some luck in the other features, though wide draws will make it tough for a couple of their earlier Group race contenders.
I Got You has drawn barrier 13 in the Hawke’s Bay Guineas, while Saint Emilion has barrier 15, one from the outside in the Livamol Classic. Stablemate Mime has fared better at barrier eight in the Group One.
“The draw makes it very tough for I Got You,” Forsman said. “He likes to roll forward so it could be a bit ugly for him early on. He’s well and it was a gutsy run down there last time. He looked beaten and came again and almost won.
“It’s a shame about the wide draw for Saint Emilion, too. He’ll have to work to get across.
“I’m not worried about his two runs so far. They have been on slow tracks and he will get a good track on Saturday and that will suit him better.”
Mime is another who has been affected by the wet tracks. She goes into the Livamol Classic with a last-start second-up sixth to Gingernuts in the Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m).
“She’s the big improver,” Forsman warns. “She is going well and her work on Thursday was better than Tuesday. That was because of the track drying out a bit. She needs good ground.” – NZ Racing Desk.