Lucia Valentina has been backed into Toy Show Quality odds of $5.50 and trainer Kris Lees believes that the talented mare will take plenty of improvement out of her first-up run at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Lucia Valentina opened at $6.50 in Toy Show Quality betting markets, but she has been the clear market mover and is now on the second line of betting behind the talented Gypsy Diamond.
The Savabeel mare has not been seen at the races since she finished third behind Rising Romance in the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 19 and Lees told Racing Ahead that he is looking forward to seeing the four-year-old back in action in the Group 3 Toy Show Quality (1300m) this weekend.
“She strengthened a little and she is giving every indication that is back on top of her game, so I am looking forward to her preparation,” Lees said.
“She is capable of soft ground and she had one go on a heavy and won the Vinery, but you would still prefer them early in their preparation to be on a bit firmer footing.
“It is hard to get a real good line purely because both trials were on heavy ground and I was reluctant to really test her due to her fitness levels, but she seemed to do everything within herself.
“She has had a couple of nice gallops since and she is going into the race in a good position to be in first-up with the view that she is going to improve dramatically off the back of the run.”
Lucia Valentina stormed home from the back of the field to win the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on April 5 and finish second in the Australian Oaks, but Lees is hoping that the four-year-old will be able to settle a bit closer to the speed during her 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign.
Lees is not expecting Lucia Valentina to win first-up, but is hoping that she will hit the line strongly as she builds towards races like the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) in Sydney and a potential Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) tilt in Melbourne.
“In time I really would like to see her race a little closer,” Lees said.
“I have no doubt that if we had ridden her a little bit more positively early in the Oaks she would have won, so I think that she can take up a midfield position and she will need to if she is going to get on the top horses.
“I just want to see her finish the race off and get a good report from Hughie.
“He is pretty blunt in his assessment post-race and I will take that on board.
“She will probably go two weeks to either the Chelmsford or the Tramway and then possibly the George Main.
“Then we will decide which way we go with her when we go to Melbourne.”
Gypsy Diamond ($4.20) remains favourite in 2014 Toy Show Quality betting markets from Lucia Valentina ($5.50), Diamond Drille ($7), and Dear Demi ($9).