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Karuta Queen headlines 31 nominations for Sunday’s Black Opal Stakes and a decision on whether the star filly runs in Canberra is likely to impact on who else shows up for the $250,000 race.

The filly’s trainer Neville Layt remained undecided on Tuesday about where Karuta Queen would start this weekend following a trackwork hitout at Canberra.

The Magic Millions winner is also entered for Saturday’s Sweet Embrace Stakes (1200m) in Sydney with a final decision not expected until at least Thursday.

Layt will accept for the Group Three Sweet Embrace on Wednesday and also the Listed Black Opal (1200m) on Thursday and make a final call after studying the fields and barrier draws in both races.

Of the 31 Black Opal nominations, 24 have also been nominated in either the Sweet Embrace for fillies or the Skyline Stakes for colts and geldings at Warwick Farm.

Thoroughbred Park chief executive Peter Stubbs is confident a quality field will still show up in Canberra despite the amount of cross-nominations.

“I’m quite happy with the nominations overall, to have 31 nominations for any two-year-old race these days I think is excellent,” Stubbs said.

Stubbs believes the Karuta Queen decision is likely to have an impact on what connections of other Black Opal nominations decide to do.

“I believe Neville Layt is going to accept with her in both races and barrier draws will have an impact on what decision he makes, so I believe that will create a similar scenario with some of the other trainers,” Stubbs said.

“I think at the end of the day it will come back to how that plays out, but overall I think with 31 nominations we’re still going to end up with a good competitive and strong field.

“While it leaves a few things up in the air at this point I don’t think it’s a major worry.”

Clarry Conners won the Black Opal last year with subsequent Golden Slipper runner-up Decision Time and has six nominations this time around.

However all six are also entered for Saturday’s meeting on their home track at Warwick Farm.

Gimcrack Stakes winner Defiant Dame was scratched from her scheduled return last Saturday with an elevated temperature.

The David Payne-trained filly is also entered for the Black Opal and Sweet Embrace.

Thoroughbred Park conducted a breakfast with the stars session on Tuesday when horses entered for Sunday’s feature races had access to the course proper.

Karuta Queen was the star attraction, while other local Black Opal hopefuls Strike Alert and You’re Canny were also put through their paces.


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