Anthony Freedman’s four-year-old gelding Mr Sneaky is considered a double-figure hope of scoring an upset win in the Group 1 $500,000 Futurity Stakes (1400m) when getting the chance to atone for an unplaced lead-up run from a better barrier this weekend.
Just eleven runners do battle in the Futurity Stakes field at Caulfield Racecourse on Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes Day on Saturday including Mr Sneaky drawn barrier eight with Mark Zahra to ride.
The son of High Chaparral comes off a second-up run at the same track and distance when finishing just over a length back eighth to Hartnell in the Group 1 $500,000 Ladbrokes C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m).
The CF Orr Stakes has produced four of the past five Futurity Stakes winners, but none of those finished worse than fourth and three completed the double.
Punters have to go right back to 2009 when the David Hayes-trained Niconero, improving on a CF Orr tenth to successfully defended his Futurity Stakes title, to find the last champion that finished outside the first four in their final lead-up run.
It is a drought that the Mornington-based Freedman stable hope Mr Sneaky can break this weekend after he suffered a horror Orr run form barrier 12 of 13.
“He just wasn’t advantaged by the wide barrier,” Freedman’s racing manager Brad Taylor told the media this week.
“He drew 12 and was caught three deep. He’s a horse that probably needs a bit of cover and he’s only got a short, sharp sprint.”
Jockey Kerrin McEvoy comes off and rides rival Snitzon ($26) first-up for Lindsay Park from barrier one on the weekend, giving Zahra the ride on Mr Sneaky who is paying $11 in the latest markets at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Prior to the CF Orr, Mr Sneaky caught the eye when running a first-up second to Thronum at Moonee Valley in the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) on Australia Day.
He boasts a strong Caulfield track record of two wins and a second from five runs, the placing coming in October last year when runner-up to Santa Ana Lane in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m).
“I think he’s just a horse that needs everything to go his way and if everything goes his way then he’s going to be competitive in a nice race,” Taylor added.
Favourite in Futurity Stakes betting this Melbourne Festival of Racing meanwhile is the Darren Weir-trained Brave Smash ($3.60).
Weir took out the CF Orr – Futurity Stakes double last year with Black Heart Bart and this season’s favourite Brave Smash is one of three in the mix for the premier Victorian trainer.
Brave Smash comes off a lead-up third in the CF Orr Stakes and has two-time winning Futurity Stakes hoop Craig Williams aboard this weekend.
Favourites have an outstanding recent record in the Futurity Stakes results with six saluting in the past eight years including the past two on the trot.
Weir’s other chances of posting back-to-back Futurity Stakes wins this Blue Diamond Day are Emirates Stakes winning Japanese import Tosen Stardom ($6) looking to atone for an eleventh in the Orr and the returning Humidor ($7.50).
Kiwi expat Humidor is a two-time Group 1 winner down under and also gave Winx a run for her money when second in last October’s Cox Plate behind the champion mare.
Three-year-old Mighty Boss ($5.50) on way to the Australian Guineas Saturday week and Team Hawkes’ Snitzel colt Showtime ($8.50) are the other dangers according to the bookmakers.