A $250,000 race at Bendigo on Saturday is the preferred choice for David Hayes to launch the career of $2.4 million colt Wilderness.
Hayes has accepted for Wilderness in a Listed race at Moonee Valley on Friday night and also scratched the youngster from a maiden at Hawkesbury on Thursday.
He said he was leaning to the Bendigo VOBIS Gold Rush (1000m) for the son of Fastnet Rock.
Wilderness fetched $2.4 million at last year’s Easter Yearling Sale.
“The great thing about Bendigo is that if he wins the race it has him qualified for the Slipper, if we’re thinking that way,” Hayes said.
Australian Turf Club official Colin Tuck confirmed that for this year, the prizemoney component of the VOBIS Gold Rush, which includes $150,000 first prize, would count towards the Golden Slipper ballot but the bonuses for the race would not.
Wilderness won a barrier trial at Canterbury a week ago and Hayes is hopeful of a winning debut.
“He’s had a very public trial for everyone to see and probably what you see is what you get,” Hayes said.
“He’s had three trials, two in private and one in public, and he’s undefeated so I’m quite happy with him.
“He tends to be a lazy horse in his trackwork but what I like is every time he gets put under pressure his head goes lower and he lengthens beautifully.
“I’m hopeful that if he does it in a race, I think we’re in very good shape.”
Hayes also has debutant Cool Rules entered for the Gold Rush.
Cool Rules is a three-quarter brother to the former Hayes-trained Group-winner Permaiscuous.
“I think he’s got a lovely future, probably as a miler,” Hayes said.
The meeting in country Victoria launched the Australian career of the Hayes-trained Jet Away last year when he won the Golden Mile (1600m), coming from back in the field.
Hayes has Bass Strait and import Spillway running in the Listed Golden Mile.
Four-year-old Spillway has placed in a Group Three in England and Hayes said he appeared to have acclimatised well ahead of his Australian debut.