Race 6A (Flemington) – Darley Classic (6 furlongs). Open Group 1. Purse = AUD $1 Million. Post time 11:40 pm EST. Picks are 2-1-10-8-3
The Darley Classic, run in the Spring, is one of the top three sprint races in Australia (the other two are the 5 furlong Black Caviar Lightning and the 6 furlong Newmarket Handicap, also run at Flemington but in the Fall). Flemington’s sprint races of 6 furlongs or less are run “down the straight,” which means no turns, right in front of the stands. If you haven’t seen a race go down the straight at Flemington I would highly recommend watching tonight as Australia’s turf sprinters are considered the fastest in the world.
#2 Chautauqua (3/5 current odds) appears to be challenged by the track surface tonight more than the competition, with a record of 9-7-2-0 in his last 9 races at races at 6 furlongs or less, all in Group company. Two days ago the Melbourne area got hit with a huge storm, leaving the Flemington track full or water and jockeys complaining about the surface between races. If Chautauqua can handle the track he’ll win this race easily.
#1 Buffering (14/1 current odds) is a rocket ship and drew well enough in post 7. Unless #6 Flamberge is sent hard Buffering should get little or no early pressure and the only horse that is consistently better than Buffering in this race is Chautauqua. Buffering’s record in Flemington sprints (8-1-3-1) is not great, but he has been running against the best in those races and he usually gets in the money. At the 14/1 odds a small win play (3 units or so) is warranted.
#10 Lumosty (11/1 current odds) has a great record at Flemington sprinting (4-2-1-0), which is not trivial. Some horses like Chautauqua and Black Caviar in her heyday love it, but most horses do not. The outside draw should help her as well, because an outside draw can allow a horse to “find its feet” a few strides out of the gate. Lumosty’s trainer Robert Smerdon is also very shrewd and is willing to go for the big money here after scratching out of a “mare’s only” sprint race at Flemington two days ago where she would have been considered a strong favorite. This one definitely has exotics appeal.
#8 Srikandi (7/1 current odds, second choice) is probably the best female sprinter in Australia since Black Caviar and is second off the layoff after her near career best effort in the Group 1 Manikato at Moonee Valley, losing to Chautauqua. This has been her target race all along so I expect a good run. The negatives are no wins sprinting at Flemington (admittedly she has not tried it yet), and she drew post 2, which is very close to the far rail as we watch on TV in the pan shot. Usually posts 8, 9 10 (the outer posts) are preferred.
#3 Boban (16/1 current odds) is a classy sprinter-miler that has a massive late punch when right. A multiple Group1 winning sprinter, he can certainly get in the frame if things go his way. Drew perfectly in post 8 for super trainer Chris Waller. Another horse for the exotics.
Race 7A (Flemington) – Emirates Stakes (8 furlongs). Open Group 1. Purse = AUD $1 Million. Post time 12:20 am EST Sat. Picks are 1-4-11-5
When I look at the form for this race, there appears to be a lot of early speed entered, and Flemington with its nearly three-furlong long stretch is a closer’s track anyway, so my picks will lean on mostly on horses coming from mid-pack.
#1 Lucky Hussler (7/1 current odds) did not fire last time but if he can bounce back to his demonstrated top level he can win this. His cozy draw from post 3 should allow him to work out a good trip.
#4 Bow Creek (4/1, current favorite) is a mid-pack runner from Europe by leading speed sire Shamardal. In his first race off a long layoff he was held safe by Aussie speedball #3 Turn Me Loose, who figures to get a LOT more pressure today. I expect Bow Creek to “turn the tables” today and fight it out with Lucky Hussler for the top prize.
#11 Politeness (10/1 current odds) gets weight off for being a female against males and has won three in a row for the crafty trainer Robert Smerdon. Judging by who she beat and the lack of career form at 1 mile against the best I have to put her in the third slot but it would not be a surprise at all if she won.
#5 Disposition (8/1 current odds) has a great career record of 12-6-5-0 and has been facing the best sprinter-milers in Australia. Last race was huge on soft turf getting a career top speed figure but compared to Lucky Hussler (who defeated Disposition on “good” turf on October 10th) and Bow Creek he would have to duplicate that October 31st effort to win here. At the quoted odds it’s probably best to use this one in the second or third slot “under” in the trifecta because of his consistency.