Perhaps the only person who doesn’t want to see Black Caviar in Sydney this autumn is Karuta Queen’s trainer Neville Layt who is aiming the filly at Group One targets including the TJ Smith Stakes.
Karuta Queen will begin her campaign in a 1000m open handicap at Warwick Farm on Saturday with Layt sweating on the judgment of the handicapper ahead of her return.
Layt has already lived the Black Caviar experience when Karuta Queen ran second to the mare in the Group Two Schillaci Stakes at Caulfield in October and once was enough.
Trainer Peter Moody will decide later this week if a defence of the TJ Smith is on the champion mare’s agenda.
It is definitely on Layt’s program for Karuta Queen who is one of eight horses entered for Saturday’s sprint race.
“I’ve always had the TJ in mind for Karuta Queen,” Layt said.
“But I’d rather Black Caviar didn’t come.”
After her second to Black Caviar, Karuta Queen won the Group Three Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley then got lost down the straight at Flemington when second to African Pulse in a 1000m race.
She had five weeks in the spelling paddock and showed her readiness for racing with a 17 length win in a 900m barrier trial at Canberra on January 17.
“The horses she beat were only babies but I’m happy with how she’s doing,” Layt said.
“She was going to have six weeks off but she put on too much weight so she came back to the stable earlier than intended.
“She’s ready to race. I just hope the handicapper doesn’t hammer her.
“I’d be happy with around 56 (kilograms) or less.”
After Saturday, Karuta Queen will run in the Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) against her own age and sex on February 18.
“I think that’s a good race for her,” he said.
“She will be fit and it gives her a chance to beat a filly like Streama who might be vulnerable first-up.”
The winner of the 2011 Magic Millions Classic, Karuta Queen has won six of her 12 races and been placed on four other occasions.
Nominations for Saturday’s sprint have been extended until Tuesday morning with Winter King the highest rated at 102 with Karuta Queen not yet rated because her last start was interstate.
Canterbury Classic winner Unanimously and Eight Bills are also entered for the Listed W J Adams Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield on Saturday.