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One of Gai Waterhouse’s leading Golden Slipper candidates can vindicate the legendary trainer’s opinion when he attempts to qualify for the world’s richest race for two-year-olds.

Santos has emerged among the cream of Waterhouse and co-trainer Adrian Bott’s crop of juveniles.

Waterhouse has won the $3.5 million Golden Slipper six times including the 2012 edition with Pierro after whom Saturday’s two-year-old race is named.

The stable gave Santos a break after he ran fourth in the Victory Vein Plate (1000m) at Randwick in October, a fortnight after an impressive debut in the Listed Breeders’ Plate behind highly rated Slipper contender Performer and Bondi.

The $84,000 first prize for the winner of the Pierro Plate (1100m) will go a long way to securing a start in the Slipper at Rosehill on March 24.

Before the weekend’s racing, Santos sat 61st on the latest order of entry with $17,800 prize money.

Bott said Santos had benefited from his spell.

“He ran a great race in the Breeders’ Plate but it was all just happening a bit quick for him at that point. He’s really matured now,” Bott said.

Bott said Santos, a $180,000 yearling, had two races to amass enough prize money for the Slipper, and hoped he could nail down a spot at the earliest opportunity.

“He’s got to come out and win these types of races to prove he’s of Slipper quality. In our minds he certainly is,” Bott said.

Stablemate Setsuna has already secured a Slipper berth for the training partnership, thanks to winning the Group Three Emirates A380 Stakes (1000m) at Flemington in November.

Bott said Setsuna would resume in the Group Two Silver Slipper (1100m) at Rosehill on Saturday week and then run in the Group Two Reisling Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on March 10.

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