A field of twelve 3yo colts and geldings, most with aspirations of heading toward the VRC Derby in six weeks time, line up to compete in the G2 Bill Stutt Stakes. Always hard to line up these emerging young stayers, most with only a handful of starts to their name, and that’s indicated by the competitive betting market. Divine Calling is the early favourite at $4.00 just in advance of Cluster ($5.00) and Late Charge ($6.00).
1. SHAMUS AWARD – C Williams (4)
A Snitzel colt trained by Danny O’Brien who ran a head second to Twilight Royale in the G2 Sire’s Produce Stakes (1400m) back in March before being tipped out for a spell. He returned to racing in pleasing style finishing third to Cauthen and Long John (good since) in the Listed McKenzie Stakes (1200m) before, after settling four back on the fence, he was only fair late when seventh (beaten 4 ¼ lengths) behind Long John in the Listed Henry Bucks at Caufield. Expected to see a little more from him last start but his overall record, good draw and previous performance here, entitles him to another chance.
2. DIVING CALLING – D Oliver (12)
Resumed from a thirteen week spell for trainer Gai Waterhouse in the G3 McNeil Stakes (1200m) where, after setting the pace, the son of Stratum weakened to finish fifth of seven behind Fast’n’Rocking. He appreciated having that run under his belt and the drop in grade when next stepping out in a 3yo Open race here at Moonee Valley a fortnight ago where, under 59kgs, he sat on the speed and left his rivals standing at the top of the straight to win by two lengths in impressive manner. Draw is not a favourable one but last start’s win was a strong one and he’s progressing well.
3. HONEY STEEL’S GOLD – C Schofield (6)
Keep the Faith gelding who has really come into his own as his races have started to get to a distance of a mile. He followed his Cranbourne maiden win with victory in the Listed Taj Rossi (1600m) before a brief let-up and returning a fortnight ago in a 3yo Open race here at Moonee Valley. He settled in a nice spot just behind the leaders in the run but, with 60kgs and being his first run in ten weeks, he couldn’t go with Divine Calling and ran third (beaten 2.1 lengths). Will take big benefit from that run and would be included among the better hopes.
4. SAN DIEGO – K McEvoy (1)
Ligthly raced Exceed and Excel colt from the Darley operation who was unwanted when returning from a spell in the Listed Henry Bucks (1400m) at 80/1. He belied that quote by finishing well through the centre of the field to claim third behind stable-mate Long John (beaten 2.9 lengths). He’ll take enormous benefit from that run and the step up to a mile second up but, being a big horse, just wonder how he’ll handle the Valley track especially from an inside gate.
5. THE BOWLER – C Newitt (7)
Finished close up behind Lady Lakshmi in Open company and then a head second to Honey Steel’s Gold in the Listed Taj Rossi (1600m) before being sent for a brief break by trainer Tony Vasil. The Testa Rossa colt then resumed in the G2 Danehill Stakes (1200m) up the Flemington Straight and finished tenth (beaten 4.4 lengths) behind Charlie Boy. Given his liking for softer ground, expect the Valley track to suit, especially as he likes to lead but some concern over him jumping from 1200m to 1600m second up.
6. LATE CHARGE – M Zahra (5)
Hard Spun colt trained by Patrick Payne who was impressive winning an Echuca Maiden by 4 ¾ on debut and immediately backing that up by taking on Open company at Flemington at his next start, which he also won by 2 ½ lengths. He was given a couple of weeks off before lining up in the Henry Bucks where, from a wide gate he got well back in the run before finishing his race off well to run sixth (beaten 3 ¼ lengths) behind, Long John. Hard not to like any of his runs thus far and will be steaming home here.
7. POLANSKI – D Yendall (10)
Resumed as a 100/1 chance in the G2 Danehill Stakes (1200m) at Flemington three weeks ago but did better than most when finishing seventh of fifteen, 3.1 lengths from winner Charlie Boy. He camped on the speed when recording his only victory from his five starts to date and may need to do a little work from barrier ten if he’s looking to take up a similar position here.
8. CLUSTER – J Bowman (9)
Went within ¾ of a length of claiming the G3 San Domenico Stakes first run back from a spell and than produced another strong effort to run fifth (beaten 1.9 lengths) in the G3 Run To The Roses (1200m) won by Va Pensiaro, where he close strongly from the tail of the field. He then settled a littler handier to the speed in his next and most recent start, the G1 Golden Rose, but wasn’t able to reproduce the strong finishing efforts of his previous runs. From nine, he’ll settle in the back half of the field but will enjoy the drop in grade here and look for him to be charging late.
9. COUNTRYMAN – N Rawiller (11)
After running placings in each of his first three starts, the Gai Waterhouse trained runner finally broke his maiden status last start when recording a head win in a Warwick Farm maiden (1400m). He enjoyed the run of the race last start from a good draw but unfortunately for connections, that’s not the case here. He’ll shoot across from his wide draw but to handle the class rise he faces, will need to have improved significantly on last start.
10. CRIME FIGHTER – L Nolen (3)
Street Hero gelding who broke his maiden status at his most recent start, his seventh in his career, with a 1 ½ length win in a Seymour Maiden (1400m). This will be his first go at a mile and it’ll be an advantage to him given his racing pattern is to drop out and run on however, at this level, it’s hard to see him running some of his competitors down – at this stage of his career at least.
11. LAST SIGHT – D Dunn (2)
An impeccably bred colt by Fastnet Rock out of former VRC Oaks winner Arborea who lines up for start number three here. Checked at the 200m when eighth (beaten 4.9 lengths) on debut at Geelong before landing a nose win over Lord Da Vinci in a Seymore Maiden (1300m) at his next and most recent start. This class, this early in his career will test him.
12. BRING SOMETHING – G Boss (8)
Sebring gelding trained by Ken Keys who only made his debut at the start of the month. He ran fourth in a Seymour (1300m) Maiden before finishing second (beaten a ½ length) in a Bendigo Maiden (1400m). Has dropped out and ran on strongly at each of his starts and the extra 200m here will suit but the class may not.
The Bowler and Countryman, both drawn wide out, will come across and set the pace with favourite Divine Calling handy. It was an impressive effort by Divine Calling last start, jumping from 1200m to 1500m and carrying 59kgs. That will top him off nicely for here. Nothing wrong with any of San Diego’s runs thus far and his first up hit-out in the Henry Bucks, behind in-form stable-mate Long John, brings him into the calculations especially at the each-way quote of $7.00 Out of the same race, Late Charge was very good. That was his first run for six weeks and would expect him to be fitter and the Moonee Valley track, given his won two from two on soft tracks, to his liking. Sydney visitor Cluster to round out the numbers – he’ll be better suited ridden more quietly than he was in the Golden Rose and obvious has the class to be involved in the finish here.
- DIVINE CALLING
- SAN DIEGO
- LATE CHARGE