The majority of Sydney trainers are fuming about the Villiers Stakes meeting this Saturday being transferred from the Randwick course proper to the Kensington track but Bjorn Baker is delighted that the Listed Razor Sharp Handicap will now be run over 1150 metres at the smaller track.
Baker had always planned to included veteran gelding Zaratone in the field for the Razor Sharp Handicap but admitted that the eight-year-old may have struggled over 1200 metres at Randwick; with the son of Zariz producing his best form over 1100 metres at Rosehill Gardens.
Zaratone recorded an impressive two lengths victory over Heart Testa and Safeguard in the Listed Starlight Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on November 30 and Baker is now confident that the popular grey can record his second straight win at Listed level this weekend.
“You win some and lose some in terms of the track being switched but I think overall we have come out well,” Baker told Racing Ahead.
“Zaratone in particular, back from 1200 at Randwick to 1150 at Kensington, brings him right into contention.
“Kensington probably races a touch easier to Randwick as well so I am really looking forward to it.
“He galloped well this morning and he is in super order.
“He is a great horse to have around and you can’t help but love him.”
Jockey Kathy O’Hara has developed a strong bond with Zaratone, recording three wins and five placings on the tough front-runner, but missed his victory in the Starlight Stakes after being involved in a nasty race fall the night before the race.
O’Hara has been cleared to return to the saddle this weekend and Baker confirmed that she would reunite with Zaratone, despite Brenton Avdulla steering him to victory just under a fortnight ago.
“Kathy is back on,” Baker said.
“It was just unfortunate that she couldn’t be on last time and she has ridden him well.
“She rode him in the two lead-ups to last time and Brenton rode him well (in the Starlight Stakes) but Kathy will be back on Saturday.”
Baker could have as many as six runners in Sydney on Saturday; with Celtic Prince included in the nominations for the Benchmark 75 Handicap over 1800 metres and two-year-olds Baio, Dream Habit, Catchtherainbow and Silent Rush all included in the initial entries for the $250,000 Inglis Nursey (1000m).