Promising filly Lucia Valentina will be included in the nominations for all the major races during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival, but trainer Kris Lees believes that the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) is the most likely target for the Group 1 winner.
Lucia Valentina won the Group 3 Wellington Stakes (1600m) in New Zealand when prepared by Stephen Marsh and joined the Lees stable for the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
The Savabeel filly made her Australian racing debut with a strong third in the Group 2 Surround Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm on March 8, but was never able to get into the race when she made her Group 1 debut in the Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 22.
Lucia Valentina was stepped up in trip for the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on April 5 and she flew home from the tail of the field to score a strong win from Solicit and Forever Loved.
The three-year-old was well backed in the lead-up to the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 19 and made up plenty of ground in the final stages of the race, but was unable to catch Rising Romance and Zanbagh.
Lucia Valentina was sent straight to the spelling paddock following her Australian Oaks defeat and Lees told Racing Victoria that the rising four-year-old had taken plenty of benefit from her stint away from the stable.
“She’d had a lot of racing before she’d come to me and a pretty arduous calendar year, so she’s probably put on 25kgs which she needed to do,” Lees said.
Lucia Valentina will return to the races in either the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) or Group 3 Toy Show Quality (1300m) at Royal Randwick on August 23 and could have one more run in Sydney before heading to Melbourne for the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 4.
Less will then decide whether Lucia Valentina runs in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 18 or the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25, while the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) is still a long-term possibility for the staying filly.
“I think I’ll take a similar path as what Chris Waller did with Royal Descent last year through the Turnbull Stakes,” Lees said.
“That will then tell us whether she’s up to that grade.
“She’ll be nominated for all of the features and we’ll just see how she comes up.
“You’re always a little bit skeptical about three-year-old fillies in their first season against open company.”
Lucia Valentina is currently on the third line of the 2014 Caulfield Cup betting market at Ladbrokes Australia at odds of $13.