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Image: Steve Hart
Bjorn Baker is leaning towards keeping Stefi Magnetica closer to home

No filly has won the Takeover Target Stakes at Gosford in the past 25 years, but two of them are shaping to be key players in this year’s renewal.

Surround Stakes runner-up Stefi Magnetica and last start Sapphire Stakes placegetter Ballroom Bella sit on the second and third lines of betting respectively for Saturday’s Listed sprint.

The former is also an acceptor for the Queensland Guineas (1200m) at the Sunshine Coast but with both meetings set to feature heavy track conditions, trainer Bjorn Baker is leaning towards keeping Stefi Magnetica closer to home.

The three-year-old was given a short break after being edged out by Tropical Squall in the Group 1 Surround Stakes (1400m) in March and even if she lined up at Gosford on Saturday, Baker’s racing manager Luke Hilton confirmed the stable was keen to get her to Queensland at some stage.

“She didn’t have long off but she’s going to take plenty of benefit out of the run with a few nice races in Queensland for her,” Hilton said.

“Bjorn didn’t want to put anything in concrete, but he was pleased with the way she did, he brought her back in and she has done really well since she has been back in work.

“She is definitely stronger than she was in the autumn, so we’re looking forward to seeing her.”

Only two three-year-olds have won the Takeover Target Stakes (1200m) in the past 25 runnings, Stormcat Academy in 2002 and High Rolling two years prior.

The latter is the only colt to win in that period and 2021 victor Enchanted Heart the only mare, with geldings dominating recent editions of the race.

Stefi Magnetica and Ballroom Bella will both need to overcome older, more seasoned horses to score, but Ballroom Bella’s co-trainer Gerald Ryan has taken heart from his filly’s form reference in the Sapphire Stakes with the winner, Wee Nessy, subsequently finishing second to Stradbroke Handicap favourite Antino at weight-for-age.

“She has been knocking on the door and the form out of her last race was proven last week when that horse of Mick Price’s, Wee Nessy, ran second in the Victory Stakes at Eagle Farm,” Ryan said.

“She is a big, strong filly so she will be competitive.”

Tyler Schiller partners Ballroom Bella from barrier six, while Dylan Gibbons will ride Stefi Magnetica, who has drawn awkwardly in gate 13.

*Existing customers only. 2nd Racing bet. Excl SA & WA. T’s & C’s apply. Gamble responsibly.
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