Bjorn Baker concedes Zaratone is nearing the end of a tradesmanlike racing career, but he isn’t writing off the greybeard sprinter’s prospects in the June Stakes.
Zaratone will be making another appearance in the June Stakes, a $100,000 Listed race at Randwick on Saturday which has attracted a capacity field of sprinters including last year’s winner Avoid Lightning.
“Quite possibly this is his last preparation,” Baker said.
“He’s a great horse to have around. He’s a stable favourite and I’d love him to go well on Saturday.”
Zaratone figured in the June Stakes placings at his third start in the race last year when he led but was no match for Avoid Lightning, finishing second to the Les Bridge-trained mare who is favourite to go back-to-back.
The rising 10-year-old heads to Randwick where he is yet to score in eight attempts, although Baker is confident the sprinter is close to winning form after he set the pace for That’s A Good Idea’s 1100m track record win in the Ortensia Stakes at Scone.
“I reckon he is going as well as ever for me,” Baker said.
“It was a great run at Scone because they went fast enough and he was there until the last bit.”
The latest of Zaratone’s 17 wins came in the Starlight Stakes at Rosehill in November, 2013 and Baker is thankful for some lenience from the handicapper on Saturday.
“He gets a bit of weight relief for him and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t run a big race,” he said.
Early markets have Avoid Lightning the $3.60 favourite while Zaratone is a $21 chance.
The Kevin Moses-trained Singing Flame has opened a clear-cut favourite to win the Stayers Cup.
One of three rides Danny Beasley has for Moses, Singing Flame goes into the 3200m race after a last-start second to promising stayer Sense Of Occasion.