Alabama Express has already upstaged the older horses to win the C F Orr Stakes and will now take on the star three-year-olds in the Australian Guineas.
After considering all options trainer Mike Moroney has confirmed a clash with Alligator Blood and Catalyst in Saturday’s Group One 1600m-race at Flemington.
Moroney and his fellow part-owners who include Rupert Legh and Arrowfield Stud, also considered running the valuable colt in Saturday’s weight-for-age Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield won by Streets Of Avalon.
The Newmarket Handicap (1200m) on March 7 was another option on the table after the 1400m Orr.
But the trainer believes Alabama Express is up to the challenge against what is widely considered a stellar crop of three-year-olds headed by star Queenslander Alligator Blood and New Zealander Catalyst who fought out the finish of the C S Hayes Stakes.
“We’ve already beaten the older horses at weight-for-age. We’d like to take the three-year-olds on now,” Moroney said.
“If he can beat the gun three-year-olds, it puts that on the mantle too.
“We just think that the mile would suit him better than coming back in distance for the Newmarket. The Futurity was only two weeks in between and we thought we’d rather – for his stud duties – take on the better three-year-olds. We’re not afraid to.
“They are obviously very good and it’s a good year. But I have seen enough of our horse to think that he’s improved a lot from the spring to the autumn.
“We’ll be wiser after we take them on but we’re not against taking them on.”
Moroney said a crack at the $5 million All-Star Mile on March 14 at Caulfield was also on the radar if Alabama Express earned a wildcard after the Guineas.
“When we brought him in we thought we would go to the race at Flemington first-up into the weight-for-age Orr and then into the Guineas,” Moroney said.
“We decided not to change plans. We couldn’t see any reason to.
“And then we thought if we went well enough in the Guineas, there’s a chance he could run in the big mile if he gets a wildcard.
“We’ve aimed to do that if we want to.”
Michael Dee will again ride Alabama Express and Moroney said the jockey felt the colt would be better-suited stepping up to the Guineas distance rather than dropping back to the Newmarket trip.