A capacity field of 16 will tackle what is considered one of the most open Blue Diamond Stakes in its history.
Following Tuesday’s barrier draw in which he came up with seven, the Lindsay Park-trained Long Leaf was the $7 favourite ahead of Plague Stone and Oohood at $8.
Long Leaf is one of four runners for David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig who are going for successive wins in Melbourne’s richest two-year-old race at Caulfield on Saturday.
They won the race last year with Catchy, giving David a sixth in total, while Lindsay Park, established by the late Colin Hayes, is aiming for its 10th victory.
Lindsay Park will also be represented by Ennis Hill (4), Qafila (16) and Enbihaar (19).
“Two drew well and two drew bad,” Hayes said.
“Long Leaf makes his own luck having won three out of three and should be right on the back of the pace with cover and hopefully he’s good enough.
“Ennis Hill will sit up on the pace, Enbihaar won a Prelude which is good form, but has drawn awakwardly.
“I reckon she’ll be up in the first half-a-dozen while Qafila, I’ll probably take my time from that gate, produce her late and hope it’s a hard run race.”
Tony McEvoy, who accepted with five two-year-olds, has three in the field, including Oohood and two emergencies.
He said Oohood, who drew barrier 10, should be unbeaten going into the race.
“She’s due for a bit of luck and I honestly believe if she gets that bit of luck she’s the filly for me,” McEvoy said.
McEvoy also has Run Naan (barrier 2, $19) and Kinky Boom (14, $9) and two emergencies Aristocratic Miss (17, $101) and Roobeena (13, $101).
“I think Run Naan’s a bit of a sleeper,” McEvoy said.
“I’ve screwed him down tight in the last couple of weeks. I’ve put the blinkers on and he’s going to get a beautiful suck along from that draw.”
Former Sydney trainer Grahame Begg, chasing his first Group One win since shifting to Victoria just under two years ago, isn’t deterred by barrier 18 with Written By who was a $10 chance after the draw.
Written By is unbeaten in two starts to date and overcame a wide draw to win a Blue Diamond Prelude on February 10.
“I think he’s a horse that needs to get into a nice rhythm and blend into the race when he wants to,” Begg said.