The girls won't get a better chance to arrest their flagging Victoria Trotters Derby record than Sunday's 2009 edition at Maryborough. Four of the 11 three-year-olds guaranteed a run in the $75,000 Group 1 are females and have the job of providing their sex with just its second win in the race since 1990.
The girls had a purple patch in the 1980s, winning four straight Derbys from 1983, but since Corrans Image won in 1990, Zesta (2002) is the only girl to have upstaged the boys.
Kan Yu, Kyrellant, Arizona Blue and Aftanoondelite are the fillies that this year have the chance to add their name to the honour roll of Australian trotting’s oldest classic with the latter pair among the leading fancies.
Arizona Blue heads TAB Sportsbet’s fixed odds market at $2.20 with Aftanoondelite sharing the third line with Let Me Thru at $5. Splitting them is regally-bred polemarker Down Under Muscles ($3).
Lisa Miles adds to the female element of Aftanoondelite’s quest for Derby domination and the in-form trainer-driver from Monegeetta, just south of Romsey, has high hopes for the daughter of Wagon Apollo.
She has risen to another level this year with wins at four of her past five starts, including the South Australian Trotters Oaks-Derby double and a Victoria Trotters Derby heat win, leaving Miles confident she can upstage the boys.
“She really blossomed in Adelaide and I think those two victories have given her a lot of confidence,” she said.
“Her heat victory at Kilmore would have given her even more confidence and that’s the way she’s racing at the moment.”
Aftanoondelite will need to ride that confidence at Maryborough with her out-of-the-draw status meaning she’ll roll from barrier 12 in the 2690-metre mobile timed to go at 4.35pm.
Arizona Blue, who won her first eight starts in her native New South Wales before finishing third at her two Victorian Derby lead-ups after making errors in the run, has gate nine.
Australian Pacing Gold champion Let Me Thru (seven), a member of the all-conquering Chris Lang stable, joins Down Under Muscles as big names off the front row.
Brett Shipway’s Kan Yu, who will contest today’s Gold Bracelet at Maryborough, has barrier six with the Greg Forrest-trained Kyrellant to roll from inside the second line (eight).
Deanna's delightful draw
It’s not often Gavin Lang hangs on where Deanna Troy draws, but he did on Tuesday when positions were being allocated for tomorrow night’s The VSB&SA Jane Ellen at Moonee Valley.
A winner of 27 of her 69 starts, including last year’s Group 1 Ladyship Mile, the six-year-old is often lumbered with wide back-row barriers in preferential draw events, but $20,000 Jane Ellen is a random draw.
Hence, she was a chance to draw anywhere and the champion reinsman was thrilled when he learned the daughter ofcame up with gate two in the 2100-metre event.
“Given her assessment she doesn’t often get the luxury of a good draw, so with the random draw we took the opportunity to start her off in this race,” Lang said.
“It was good to see that she’s drawn nicely and we expect her to run well.”
But she has a crack field of mares to overcome. Among the others off the front are the past two Graham Goffin Memorial winners Jazzam (one) and Mesmerizing (three) and recent Silver Chalice winner Sophie Pass (six).
Terang Cup winner Broadway Play (eight) and Queen Of The Pacific heroine Pacific Charm (nine) are the stars off the second line in the 8.30pm event.
But Lang thinks Deanna Troy’s outstanding fresh record will stand her in good stead. In nine runs when first-up up from a spell of at least eight weeks she has won six times with a fourth placing her worst return.
The difference this time is that she is returning from an atrial fibrillation in the lead-up to April’s Easter Cup at Launceston, but Lang said she wouldn’t be resuming if there was the slightest hint that she wasn’t over the condition.
“With those things you give them 24 hours and this one righted itself in that timeframe, so the vets didn’t have to do anything for her to get her over it,” he said. “If there’s such a thing as a ‘good’ heart fibrillation, she probably had it.
“She generally races well fresh, so if history repeats she’s not going to be too far away.”
TAB Sportsbet thinks Deanna Troy is the horse to beat, installing her the $2.75 favourite ahead of Jazzam ($3.75), Sophie Pass ($7), Broadway Play ($7.50) and $8 chances Pacific Charm and Mesmerizing.
Lauraella lost to Oaks
Geoff Small lost his race against time to have Lauraella fit for tomorrow night’s $75,000 Group 1 Nevele R Stud Australian Oaks at Moonee Valley.
The Kiwi trainer phoned Harness Racing Victoria late this morning to inform that the superstar filly had not recovered from the problems that had plagued her since running seventh in the Ballarat Oaks Trial on July 3.
Small was naturally disappointed that New Zealand’s top filly won’t be there to clash with Australia’s top seed, Broadways Best, but remains hopeful that they may meet in the Australasian Breeders Crown.
“She’s just not going to be right (for the Oaks), which is a shame,” he said. “The Breeders Crown heats are on July 29, so we’ll now just have to see whether we can get her right for that.”
Lauraella’s scratching has flipped Oaks betting on its head with Broadways Best crunched into $1.50 in TAB Sportsbet’s fixed odds market.
Big-race specialist Keppel Bay ($7) and polemarker Queen Of Fire ($8) are the only others at single-figure odds in the event that will be run at 9.30pm.
Despite Lauraella’s scratching, the news hasn't been all bad for Small with two-year-old filly Zenstar, whom he owns and trains, causing an upset in an Australasian Breeders Crown heat at Cambridge (NZ) last night.
The half-sister to Small's star three-year-old colt,, downed high-profile fillies Gotta Go Harmony and Flying Pocketlands at just her third start.
"They broke the track record (1:55.8 for 1720m) so it was a pretty good performance," Small said. "I must admit though we weren't expecting to beat them, but she's always shown some ability.
"I hadn't planned on bringing her across (for the Breeders Crown), but now I'll have to sit down and have a think about it because she's into the semis".
, a last start Harness Jewels winner, will line up in a Breeders Crown heat at Cambridge next Thursday night hoping to secure his berth in the August 14 semis at Tabcorp Park.
Breeders Crown taking shape
Defending champion Captain Joy headlines an outstanding day of Australasian Breeders Crown action at Menangle, New South Wales, on Tuesday.
The superstar three-year-old – who has won his past 11 starts, starting with last year’s Breeders Crown triumph – will launch his quest for back-to-back titles in the first of two heats for the colts and geldings.
As has become customary at Menangle, the Susan Hunter-trained, Gavin Lang-driven colt will roll from outside the front row in the seven-horse qualifier at 11.57am.
He is just one of several big names stepping out on a Menangle program that features eight Breeders Crown heats.
Boom two-year-old filly Lady Euthenia is the star of the day’s first qualifier, at 11.30am, while New York Fashion and Ima Spicey Lombo headline the three-year-old fillies heats, at 1.05pm and 3.27pm respectively.
Australian Pacing Gold two-year-old hero Cuttheattitude steps out in a two-year-old colts and geldings heat at 2.15pm, 35 minutes after arch rival Chariot King goes around.
But Menangle isn’t the only place where Breeders Crown action will take place on Tuesday with Brisbane’s Albion Park and Gloucester Park in Perth to also host qualifiers.
A three-year-old heat for both sexes will be run at Albion Park with the return bout of Smudge Bromac and Super Falcon – who filled the quinella in last year’s two-year-old qualifier – the highlight at 12.17pm.
Both the two and three-year-olds will be in action in Western Australia.
David Hercules adds a star element to the opener, a two-year-old colts and geldings event at 6pm AEST, while WA Sires Stakes champions Sheer Royalty and Truckers Ruffnut headline the three-year-old events, at 6.30pm and 6.45pm respectively.
But Breeders Crown followers don’t have to wait until Tuesday for their fix of action with a pair of three-year-old heats to be run at Hobart on Sunday night.
Both events are match races but shape as enthralling affairs. Karalta Crown and Our Zellweger will do battle in the fillies’ heat, while Jackpot Banker and Glenwood Jasper will go head-to-head in the boys’ division.
The will be out to join Zenstar and Swift Therapy in the semi finals at Tabcorp Park on Friday night, August 14. That duo earned their places in the semis with wins in Thursday night’s New Zealand North Island heats at Cambridge.
The Geoff Small-trained Zenstar upset class performers Gotta Go Harmony and Flying Pocketlands in the two-year-old fillies heat, while Tony Herlihy’s Swift Therapy won the two-year-old colts and geldings heat.
The Breeders Crown concludes with a $1.55 million raceday, featuring nine Group 1 finals, at Tabcorp Park on “Super Sunday”, August 23.