Leading form analyst Daniel O’Sullivan has Black Heart Bart on top of his 2016 Underwood Stakes tips and he is confident that the consistent galloper can return to winning form in the Group 1 event at Caulfield this afternoon.
Black Heart Bart was beaten as a short-priced favourite by stablemate Palentino in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington a fortnight ago, but O’Sullivan told Racing Active that there was still plenty of merit in the performance of the six-year-old and a repeat would be enough to win the Underwood Stakes.
“My assessment is a little different to the popular opinion,” O’Sullivan said.
“There are people saying that he didn’t run a mile, but his run at Flemington was as good as we could expect him to go.
“He was just beaten by Palentino, who exploded to a new peak in a genuine Group 1 weight-for-age rating.
“They put a gap on the rest and if it wasn’t for Palentino going to that new peak than Black Heart Bart would have dominated the rest of that field and we would all be lauding how good a form he is in.
“He has run half a length within his career peak and he was only second-up over 1600 metres.
“He is stepping up to 1800, which is a little bit of a query but I have no problems with how he ran out a mile the other day.
“If there is ever a horse to stretch a horse out in distance it is Darren Weir.
“He is still the horse to beat.”
Lucia Valentina is rated the main danger to Black Heart Bart in the 2016 Underwood Stakes betting market with Ladbrokes and there has been plenty of money for the talented mare.
She took out the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) second-up in the autumn, but O’Sullivan is happy to take her on in the Underwood Stakes and he believes that she is well under the odds at her current price.
“She is in market at around that $4 mark and I think it is a bit tight,” O’Sullivan said.
“She is a mare that really does love to get her toe into the ground and her best performances have all been with a bit of sting out.
“The second concern is that she does typically get out the back and while The Cleaner is in the race she is at risk of losing touch with the pack and just having too much to do in the run home.
“I certainly couldn’t come into her at around that $4 or $4.20 mark.”
Black Heart Bart is currently available at 2016 Underwood Stakes odds of $2.60 with Ladbrokes and he is a clear favourite from Lucia Valentina ($3.80), Awesome Rock ($5.50), He Or She ($11) and Tarzino ($11).