Two New Zealand three-year-olds have begun Derby campaigns in Victoria with contrasting fortunes in races at Geelong.
The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Botti, a close relation to the Baker-trained 2010 Victoria Derby winner Lion Tamer, knuckled down to his task late to narrowly win a 1755m benchmark 64-race on Monday.
Earlier, the Stephen McKee-trained Hasabro was held up in the straight before charging home for second in a 1755m-maiden.
Both three-year-olds are in Australia with a view to contesting the Victoria Derby (2500m) on November 3 at Flemington.
Baker was pleased to see Botti win his Australian debut at his third career start as he said he needs to boost his prize money to try to get into better races later in the spring.
“He hit the line well,” Baker told broadcaster Racing.com.
“He’s a staying horse so we’ll keep our fingers crossed.”
Jockey Damian Lane said Botti had the right attributes heading towards a Derby.
“He’s got a good attitude. He relaxes and he’s going to get over further,” Lane said.
“I guess the next couple of starts will tell when he steps up in grade.”
Lane was also aboard Hasabro who remained a maiden at his seventh start but the jockey was impressed by the colt’s luckless defeat in his first Australian outing.
“He was super,” Lane said.
“He should have trotted in, really.
“Unfortunately he couldn’t win today but he’ll be hard to beat next time.”