American stayer Unusual Suspect kicks off his spring campaign aimed at the Melbourne Cup when he resumes for new trainer Mick Kent in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley.
The eight-year-old entire comes to Australia with excellent credentials having won the Grade One Hollywood Turf Cup (2414m) at Hollywood Park in California in November.
The victory qualified him for the Melbourne Cup.
“He’s been here for three months,” said the Cranbourne trainer who, along with stable clients, has bought a share in the horse.
Trained in the US by Barry Abrams, Unusual Suspect has won nine races from 1207m to 2414m and has been placed on 14 other occasions from 56 starts for more than $1.2 million in prize money.
The horse was runner-up to Bourbon Boy in the Grade Two San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (2816m) at Santa Anita in April last year.
“I’m pleased with him and he’s trialled well,” Kent said.
“Depending on his work tomorrow he’ll either go there (to the Dato Tan Chin Nam) or the Naturalism, but probably Moonee Valley.”
The Group Three Naturalism Stakes (2000m) is run at Caulfield on Saturday week and is the race impressive Flemington 2000m winner December Draw will use to try to force his way into the Caulfield Cup field.
The Naturalism winner is exempt from the Caulfield Cup ballot but can be re-handicapped.
“Basically he’s here for the Melbourne Cup,” Kent said.
“It looks like he’s really going to stay so that’s probably his main mission.
“We won’t give him too many runs, probably three into it.”
Kent has four of the 18 nominations in the Group Two 1600m weight-for-age feature, the others being AJC Australian Oaks winner Absolutely, Domesky, winner of the Group Two Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) and Eruptious.
Absolutely is also entered for the Group Two W H Stocks Stakes (1600m) for mares while Domesky, Eruptious and Unusual Suspect were all entered for the Open Handicap (1600m).
Domesky finished third to smart filly Kneeling in an 1190m barrier trial at Cranbourne on Monday.
Cox Plate favourite Whobegotyou (118) is the highest rated horse in the Dato Tan Chin Nam and is out to win the race for the third successive year.
Caulfield Guineas winner Anacheeva, Alcopop, Linton, Magical Pearl, Red Colossus and Rekindled Interest are likely runners.
Linton won a 1550m trial from stablemate Mourayan at Cranbourne on Monday.