If you don’t follow Australian racing, you may be asking yourself: “What IS the Cox Plate?” The Cox Plate is a 2040 m (approximately 10 furlong) grass race run at Moonee Valley, one of the main racing centers near Melbourne. It is by invitation only, with Aus $3,000,000 on the line, and the weights are set by “weight for age,” which means older horses carry more weight than three year olds. It has the same importance in deciding Australian championships as North America’s Breeders’ Cup Classic does in determining Eclipse awards.
Moonee Valley has a VERY short stretch – 567 feet – which is the shortest in Australia, and much, much shorter than the home stretches in America (to compare, Belmont’s main track has a stretch of 1,097 feet from the top of the stretch to the finish line), so it can be a challenge to for deep closers to make a dent, but if the early pace is faster than average, the closers can win.
I watched a 45 minute video presentation where every horse in the Cox Plate was evaluated on velocities and speed figures, and I spent 30 minutes handicapping this race. I am really excited about this year’s race, because I think there is money to be made and the quality of the competitors is top shelf.
Who is the horse to beat? Most people say the four year old IT’S A DUNDEEL, who has won $2.5 million on the track and beat the champion mare Atlantic Jewel by a nose in his last start. ‘Dundeel can stalk the lead or close. I expect him to be close up 3 wide, hopefully with a horse in front of him to break the wind (this is called racing with cover). The risk betting on ‘Dundeel is he developed an abcess (infection) in a hoof and it took a few days to clear up. Because of the break in training, he missed his last prep race and no one knows if he will be fit enough. I would say he is a good horse to use in the exotics, but I am going elsewhere for the win.
HAPPY TRAILS was involved in a bizzarre race day mishap when he was injected in the neck with something – the puncture marks were noted by paddock judges! The horse was scratched that day and the trainer was suspended for (only) six months. The horse was transferred to a new barn and has just won a big ten furlong race at 24/1. The horse that finished 3rd in that ten furlong race, FAWKNER, wheeled right back last week and won a Aus $2.1 million dollar race at 10/1. All of Happy Trail’s numbers are good. I am putting him on top.
LONG JOHN is a three year old – young, immature, but very fast and he’s bred to go 10 furlongs. As a three year old he gets 21 pounds from the older horses. That has to help.
PICKS: 1st) Happy Trails 2nd) Long John 3rd) It’s A Dundeel
|11||It’s A Dundeel||13||Missed his final prep race due to a hoof abcess. The BEST horse IF fit.||60.0||3/1|
|2||Happy Trails||2||Tough as nails, don’t ignore||59.0||9/2|
|14||Lohn John||11||Competitive on speed figures. Bred to run all day. Gets 21 pounds.||59.0||9/2|
|8||Puissance De Lune||8||Considered one of the best Aussie horses. Lost top jock after losses.||58.0||7/1|
|3||Fiorente||15||Figures to be caught wide, will close late best of all.||57.0||12/1|
|4||Foreteller||9||Fast, doesn’t appear to be a winner at this level.||57.0||12/1|
|6||Seville||10||Very well bred – good horse for ex and tri||56.0||40/1|
|10||Mull Of Killough||4||Will be THE SPEED early – but can he hold on late?||56.0||40/1|
|12||Super Cool||14||Appears out of sync to me. Negative jock switch.||56.0||40/1|
|15||Shamus Award||3||Gets 21 pounds but appears way overmatched.||55.0||50/1|
|1||Green Moon||12||Off form – slower this year than in 2013 when he was a killer.||54.0||75/1|
|7||Rekindled Interest||6||Has earned $952,000. Not terrible.||54.0||75/1|
|9||Masked Marvel||5||TOP, TOP, TOP Aussie connections. Horse looks a tad slow.||54.0||75/1|
|5||Side Glance||1||Most likely horse to finish last||53.0||100/1|