Three year old Group 1 winner Lucia Valentina is the new Caulfield Cup favourite after a scintillating last to first win in the Group 2 $175,000 Tattersalls Club Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick today.
Broadmeadow trainer Kris Lees took over the preparation of Lucia Valentina from Kiwi trainer Stephen Marsh at the beginning of the Sydney Autumn Carnival and collected the first prize in the Group 1 $400,000 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on April 5.
Lees then gave the Savabeel filly one more run in the Autumn for a third to Rising Romance in the Group 1 $1m Seven News Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick on April 19 before sending her out for a spell.
Lucia Valentina ($9) looks to have come back better than ever producing an explosive finish to overpower the leader Tiger Tees ($4) to win by one and half lengths with Toydini ($16) also putting in an eye catcher for third with Australian Oaks winner Rising Romance ($17) in fourth spot.
“It is certainly good to see her back,” Lees said.
“I scratched the other day, worried about the heavy tack first up, but we had to go to the races now. It was a really good effort.”
“She looked like she got into a bit of trouble at about the 500m but see balanced up nicely, and Kerrin let her find her feet and she was really strong through the line.”
“She is nominated for all the big races. Heavy track today and we’ll see where she ends up.”
Lucia Valentina has been installed the new $15 favourite for the Group 1 $2.5m Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup at Caulfield on October 18 but Lees is yet to commit to a start in the 2400m Handicap.
Lees said that the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25 is also an option and he will make a decision deeper in the Spring Carnival after Lucia Valentina runs in the Group 1 $350,000 George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on September 20 before heading to Melbourne for the Group 1 $500,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 4.
“She will probably go to the George Main in two weeks,” Lees said.
“If she goes well in that she will probably go to a Turnbull Stakes then decide whether a Caulfield Cup or a Cox Plate.”
Tiger Tees tried valiantly to repeat his all the way win two weeks ago in the Group 2 $175,000 Pro-Ride Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Randwick in similar heavy conditions but couldn’t hold out the fast finishing Lucia Valentina.