Day At The Track

Can Cruz crack the Colt

02:04 PM 03 Dec 2020 NZDT
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Cruz, Harness racing
Dan Costello photo

Can Cruz overthrow Colt Thirty One?

The co-owner of the Albion Park track record (1:50.4 with Im Themightyquinn) returns to the Sunshine State in readiness for Saturday night’s Gr.2 $50,660 Badcock Group of Companies Queensland Cup, the main event on the second night of the summer carnival.

Prepared by leading Sydney trainer Craig Cross and to be driven by Brisbane born reinsman Leonard Cain, Cruz struck an early advantage after landing gate three while Colt Thirty One must overcome gate six in the 2138m mobile start feature.

Back during the winter carnival in July, the two quality pacers staged some epic battles, but Cruz won both encounters after leading and winning in both the Wondais Mate and Mr Feelgood Open events.

But plenty has changed since then.

Cruz has won two of his five starts since while Colt Thirty One has won eight of his past nine including last week’s thumping victory in the Gr.3 $30,660 Be Good Johnny Sprint in 1:51.9.

Queensland’s pin-up pacer sat parked outside race favourite Turn It Up before asserting his authority in the latter stages.

Can he sit parked this week and do it again or will the Sydney speedster prove his nemesis?

“We’ve got so much respect for Colt Thirty One but we know our guy is capable of beating him and we’re going there to win again this weekend. It’s going to be a great race but we’ll be looking for the early advantage so we’ll see if he can catch us.” Cain said.

Cruz has been unplaced in both runs backs this campaign but has been freshened since his latest effort when fourth behind Out To Play in the Gr.3 $30,000 Popular Alm FFA at TABCORP Park, Melton on October 10.

That followed his effort in the Gr.2 $50,000 Smoken Up Sprint a week earlier when eighth behind Rishi in 1:50.2.

Cruz is raced by Victorian based Luke Tabone.

Boasting five wins from eight starts at Albion Park, Cain is confident he’s back near his best form like he displayed during the winter.

“He hasn’t trialed since his latest run but his work at home with Craig and Luke (McCarthy) has been really impressive so we’re all confident.

“I watched Colt Thirty One from Menangle last week and he was absolutely super, he’s full of confidence and very fit but he’s likely to have another tough run again because of his draw.

“Cruz goes best in front and he proved that during the winter campaign, I think we can lead from our good draw. This race has been on the radar for some time, the borders have reopened and we’re ready to go.”

TAB market framers have installed the local star favourite at $1.95 while Cruz is assessed as a $5 chance.

Colt Thirty One is chasing back to back victories in the Queensland Cup following his brilliant victory last year, a week after returning from his luckless Auckland Inter Dominion series.

The Cross/Cain combination will combine with another key runner at Albion Park this weekend, they have Balraj making his Brisbane debut in the Gr.3 $30,770 Ted and Edna Badcock Memorial 4yo Championship.

The Art Major gelding has won 12 of his 22 starts to date including two from five since being under the care of Cross.

Balraj failed in the Gr.1 Victoria Cup two starts ago (8th behind Lochinvar Art) before returning to Sydney at his most recent start where he ran a stylish second behind his stablemate King Of Swing on November 21.

Cain is yet to drive Balraj under race conditions.

“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity, he’s a really nice horse and I know Luke has plenty of time for him so I’m hoping I can get the job done.

“I’ve driven him in trackwork a few times to familiarize myself and he gives you a nice feel, some changes have been made so I think he’ll prove hard to beat.”

Balraj has been listed as the $1.50 favourite with TAB while the only other runner in the mix is the locally trained L L Cool J at $2.80.

Prepared by Nathan Dawson, the son of A Rocknroll Dance has won all three starts since arriving in Brisbane and looked super sharp last week in a time of 1:54.6 for the 2138m event.

L L Cool J has drawn gate four with Balraj on his immediate outside.


Chris Barsby

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