Straight-track specialist Milwaukee has rallied strongly when it mattered to add another Flemington win, despite trainer Mike Moroney admitting he’d all but conceded defeat midway though the Grampians Region Handicap.
Milwaukee’s narrow victory in a bunched finish to Saturday’s 1100m handicap on a soft track was his fourth win from five attempts when racing on the straight course at Flemington.
All his other straight track runs had been over 1200m, his only blemish a second in the Listed Straight Six last month.
After looking under pressure at the 400m mark, the $4.80 favourite lifted in the final 100m under apprentice Michael Poy to beat I’m Telling Ya ($26) by a short half-head, while Holy Blade ($14) was the same margin away third.
“He didn’t look all that happy to me all the way through the run,” Moroney said.
“But he just loves the straight and he’s tough.”
Milwaukee’s record now stands at eight wins from 24 starts and Moroney is keen to give the rising six-year-old gelding a crack at better sprint races at Flemington during this year’s spring carnival.
“We want to keep him up during the spring because we missed last spring with him through a hock injury,” Moroney said.
“We’ve worked it out that he doesn’t have to leave Flemington for about his next four runs.
“We can space his races and that’s probably what we’ll do.”
Milwaukee was ridden by Melbourne’s leading apprentice Michael Poy who also won on the sprinter two starts ago at Flemington.
Poy said Milwaukee was left flat-footed when the field sprinted for home and wasn’t all that comfortable between horses until he got into the clear in the final 200m.
“He was just off the bridle early and didn’t travel as well as he did last time but once we got into clear room he started to motor to the line,” Poy said.
“We needed every bit of the 1100 metres.”