Mick Price-trained duo Pakal and Bit Of Hell will contest the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on Saturday, rather than the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m).
The imported stayers were included in the nominations for both races but Price revealed on RSN this morning that he has elected to take the easier path and chase the Caulfield Cup ballot-exemption on offer in the Naturalism Stakes.
“The Underwood will be too hard for those handicapping type horses,” Price said.
“I put them in the Underwood just to have a look at the noms and they will both run in the Naturalism Stakes.
“The Naturalism is a qualifying race for the Caulfield Cup so if either of them wins it, in we go.”
Pakal started his 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a dominant six lengths victory in the Legacy 2013 Badge Appeal Handicap (1600m) and finished third in the Listed Slickpix Stakes (1700m) at Caulfield on August 31 after being well backed in the lead-up to the race.
While Pakal’s run may have been a bit disappointing to the naked eye, a closer analysis of the race indicated that he ran well and Price was glowing with praise for four-year-olds effort.
“Pakal was excellent,” Price said.
“When they draw bad gates and have awkward rides you have these conversations after the race when you are defending your horse.
“The first 1400 metres of that race he was drummed up into the race and did plenty of work but he still hung on to come third.
“It was a really good run and in the Naturalism he only needs to draw a good gate and run properly with cover.”
Pakal is currently sitting 73rd in the 2013 Caulfield Cup order of entry and will likely need to win the Naturalism Stakes to qualify for the field.
Price is quietly confident that the son of Lord of England can be successful on the weekend but is unsure whether he is good enough to be a major player in the Caulfield Cup.
“He hasn’t got lengths on them but he is super fit and going great,” Price said.
“We will get a chance to access whether he is going good enough.
“If he gets a run in the Caulfield Cup we will run him but there are plenty of $200,000 Cups for him if he doesn’t make it.
“He would win an average 2400 metre race but if you are talking Caulfield Cups than he needs to come up a peg.”
Bit Of Hell will also take part in the race but Price admits that he is struggling to get the best out of the Hurricane Run entire and is considering sending him to the paddock to be gelded.
“I’m just struggling a little bit with Bit Of Hell at the moment,” the veteran trainer said.
“We have seen enough from him to think he is a good horse but he is an entire and I just have that in the back of my head.”