Trainer Levi Kavanagh had planned having Kentucky Breeze in the Group One Australian Guineas but instead the lightly raced Listed winner will tackle a lesser race as a stepping stone to a potential Derby tilt.
Kavanagh had pencilled in the Manfred Stakes, C S Hayes Stakes and Saturday’s Australian Guineas for the first three runs of Kentucky Breeze’s campaign but a virus at the start of last month forced him to be scratched from the Manfred.
Kentucky Breeze instead went into the C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) first-up last Saturday week and endured a wide run back in the field from a deep barrier before finishing unplaced.
Kavanagh has elected to run Kentucky Breeze in Saturday’s Saintly Handicap (1400m) at Flemington and believes the gelding is going well enough to be right in it from a good draw with added fitness on his side.
Kavanagh wants to stretch Kentucky Breeze out in distance with next month’s ATC Australian Derby (2400m) an aim if the lightly raced three-year-old handles the rises in distance in the coming weeks.
“I’ll be looking for a strong finish from him this weekend, obviously still with more improvement in the tank,” he said.
Kentucky Breeze gave Kavanagh his first stakes win during last year’s spring carnival at Flemington and on Saturday Soho Ruby will attempt to give the trainer a Group Three win in the Frances Tressady Stakes (1400m).
Soho Ruby won at Flemington two starts ago before being unplaced in her most recent start at the track in January.
“I wanted to give her a freshen-up and prolong the preparation to go to some black-type fillies and mares races such as this one during the autumn,” Kavanagh said.
“I think that she’s up to this grade, especially at a track like Flemington.”