The winner of the 2014 Lexus Stakes earns ballot exempt entry into the 2014 Melbourne Cup and 12 of the 13 horses in the Lexus Stakes field are chasing a start in ‘the race that stops a nation’.
OTI Racing already have Brambles, Lidari, Au Revoir and Gatewood in the Melbourne Cup and they are hoping that Lord Van Percy can work his way into the field by taking out the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Lord Van Percy finished second behind Melbourne Cup contender Mutual Regard in the Ebor Handicap (2816m) in his last race start in the United Kingdom and he made his Australian racing debut with a credible fifth in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield on October 11.
The Herbert Power Stake is set to be the key form guide for the Lexus Stakes; with Big Memory, Let’s Make Adeal, Unchain My Heart and Signoff all set to back-up in the Group 3 event.
Big Memory won the Hebert Power Stakes before he went on to finish a credible tenth in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 18, while veteran mare Unchain My Heart finished towards the tail of the field in both races.
Signoff was narrowly beaten by Big Memory in the Herbert Power Stakes before he finished third behind Contributer and Noble Protector in the Group 3 David Jones Cup (2000m) and he will have a final chance to earn a Melbourne Cup start in the Lexus Stakes.
Let’s Make Adeal finished a close second behind Ruscello in the Lexus Stakes last year and she is taking strong form into the race after finishing a luckless third in the Herbert Power Stakes.
Another key form reference for the Lexus Stakes will be the Geelong Cup after winner Caravan Rolls On, runner-up Marksmanship, Like A Carousel, More Than Sacred, Wish Come True and Shoreham were included in the Lexus Stakes field.
More Than Sacred is the only horse in the Lexus Stakes that does not remain in Melbourne Cup contention and if she was to be victorious Unchain My Heart would be all but guaranteed a start in the race.
The most interesting runner in the 2014 Lexus Stakes field is Team Hawkes-trained La Amistad, who has her last chance to qualify for a place in the Melbourne Cup field at Flemington on Saturday.
La Amistad was on the second line of 2014 Melbourne Cup betting markets at the start of the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival, but nothing has gone to plan for the three-quarter sister to Makybe Diva during her spring preparation.
The Redoute’s Choice mare returned to a semblance of her best form when second in the Listed City Tattersalls Club Cup (2406m) at Royal Randwick on October 18, but she will face stiffer competition in the Lexus Stakes.
The last horse to complete the Lexus Stakes/Melbourne Cup double was Mark Kavanagh-trained Shocking in 2009.