Malaguerra will head to Sydney for the 2016 Sebring Stakes after he returned to racing with an impressive victory in the Bob Hoystead Handicap at Flemington this afternoon.
The entire Bob Hoystead Handicap field elected to race down the middle of the Flemington straight and jockey Ben Melham elected to take Malaguerra to the inside of the pack.
Bullpit took up the running and he kicked away at the 200 metre mark, but Malaguerra showed outstanding acceleration when he was asked for an extra effort by Melham and he was far too strong in the final stages of the race.
Melham admitted that he was unsure how Malaguerra would handle a sharp 1000 metres race first-up and he was very pleased with the performance produced by the Magnus gelding – who has won five of his six starts since being gelded.
“He is an outstanding horse,” Melham said.
“His record says that and today he camped six or seven lengths off them and I had to let him find his stride.
“The 1000 metres was a little worry with him today, but we knew that he was going well and we knew that he would run well.
“He just gathered his action half way down the running and he really ran solid through the line.
“He is an exceptional horse.”
Freedman confirmed that Malaguerra has been a completely different horse since being gelded and he was delighted to see him score a first-up victory over what many racing experts thought would be an unsuitable distance.
Team Freedman are keen to take Malaguerra to Brisbane for a race like the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m), but he revealed that the four-year-old would likely have his next race start in the Listed Sebring Darby Munro (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 19.
“He has certainly made big inroads since he was gelded,” Freedman said.
“Last prep he won four out of five and was only beaten a nose in the other one and he has won first-up today.
“He has won five out of his past six since he has been gelded and he has stepped up to Listed grade today, which is great.
“He is a pretty good horse and he is pretty dangerous at the moment when he is down in the weights.”
Grane produced close to a career best performance to finish second at a big price, while Thermal Current was typically consistent in third.