Western Australian star Luckygray is on a collision course with sprint champion Black Caviar and will use Saturday’s Group 1 $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington as a yardstick for the rest of the Autumn.
Luckygray has drawn the outside of the fourteen horse Newmarket field and trainer Gino Potelli will be guided by the five year olds performance before lining up at a jammed packed Moonee Valley to take on Black Caviar in the Group 1 $400,000 William Reid Stakes (1200m) on March 22.
“The owners have made it clear they want to take on Black Caviar so they will get their wish, and I also want him to race at the Valley before the spring carnival,” Poletti said.
Melbourne racegoers didn’t get to see the best of Luckygray at the end of his preparation last Spring when fourth to Second Effort in the Group 2 $220,000 Back To Caulfield P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 18 and eleventh to Sincero in the Group 2 $220,000 New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 1.
Poletti decided to give Melbourne another go after Luckygray took out the Group 1 $500,000 TAB Touch.Mobi – Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot on December 8 with the plan always to start first up in the Newmarket.
“We’d always planned it this way, for him to run first-up in the Newmarket, and he’s right on top of his game,” Poletti said.
“We had planned on coming here for this race last year, but he was too immature.”
As well as cheering for Luckygray on Saturday, Potelli will also be ecstatic it fellow Western Australian Barakey can take out the $1 million sprint down the famous Flemington straight.
“I think our bloke is stronger over 1400m or further, but Barakey has shown he is a class act and 1200m is his go,” Poletti said.
“Regardless of who wins, it would be great to see one of us take the prize home.”
Whereas Potelli had planned to run Luckygray first up in the Newmarket, Barakey’s trainer Jim Taylor had to change plans after his unbeaten sprinter was scratched at the barriers when favourite for the Group 1 $400,000 Sportingbet Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on February 23.
Taylor was forced to put Barakey through the barriers and was subsequently passed by stewards to take his place in the Newmarket and the Perth trainer admits that he has been behind the eight ball since to get his Group 1 winner ready for Saturday.
“Barakey’s a little behind in his work after missing the run in the Oakleigh Plate,” Taylor said.
“He went well down the straight. We would have liked to have gone into the Newmarket second-up,” Taylor said.
Barakey has drawn next to Luckygray at thirteen while the Peter Moody trained Moment Of Change has come up with barrier seven.
Light weight chance Better The Ready with Craig Williams aboard has come up with gate eight while fellow Queenslanders Woorim and Spirit OF Boom have drawn well at four and six, with top sprinting mare Ortensia coming up with barrier nine.
Moment Of Change has been posted the $2.80 Newmarket favourite ahead of Barakey at $4.60 with Western Australian buddy Luckygray at $6.
Better Than Ready has held his spot around the $7 mark while Ortensia has been posted a $11 chance.