21/10/2019 Derby hopes rest with Long Jack
The pressure goes on Long Jack (So You Think) at Geelong on Wednesday to keep alive the Gr.1 Victoria Derby (2500m) prospects for Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.
The Cambridge trainers had three hopefuls — Long Jack, Quick Thinker and Rhaegar — entered for the Victoria Derby at Flemington on November 2, but are now down to just Long Jack, who will be using the Listed Geelong Classic (2200m) as a dress rehearsal for the big one with Damian Lane in the saddle.
Rhaegar is out for a break after racing keenly and dropping out in the last two of his Sydney outings, while Quick Thinker will be making his way down to Melbourne this week for lesser assignments after finishing fifth when a rival for Rhaegar in the Gr.1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick last start.
Quick Thinker had previously made a successful Australian debut in the Gr.3 Ming Dynasty Quality (1400m) and finished third in the Gr.3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m), both at Rosehill.
“Quick Thinker was a bit disappointing in the Spring Champion Stakes, but the next day we found he had a temperature,” Baker said.
“He picked up a virus so he’s had a week off and this week he’ll come down to Melbourne for the lesser three-year-old races, like the Sandown Guineas (Gr.2 1600m). There’s still big money on offer in those races.”
With the stable’s Victoria Derby focus now solely on Long Jack, Baker is hopeful the son of So You Think is on his best behaviour prior to racing, after running his race in the mounting yard when sixth to Warning in the Listed Super Impose Stakes (1800m) at Flemington last start.
“He got fizzed up and real colty before his last run,” Baker said. “Being really wound up like that didn’t help his chances at all.
“We’re putting the blinkers on him this time and hopefully that will help. His work has been good and we’re happy with him.
“I’d want to see him running on to be a Derby chance. We won this race a couple of years ago with Weather With You and he was a similar type of chance going into it.”
Weather With You went on to finish eighth in the Victoria Derby, while Baker, when training in partnership with his son Bjorn, won the Flemington feature nine years ago with Lion Tamer.
On Saturday Baker and Forsman’s Australian attention will focus on dual Group One winner Madison County in the Gr.2 Schweppes Crystal Mile (1600m) at Moonee Valley.
It will be Madison County’s third start this campaign and follows a second-up seventh in the Gr.1 Toorak Handicap (1600m).
“I thought his run in the Toorak was good,” Baker said. “He drew wide and had to do a bit and he’s come through it well. Moonee Valley will suit him. We won this race with Turn Me Loose four years ago.
“If he goes well we might back him up in the Kennedy Mile (Gr.1, 1600m).”
Stablemate The Chosen One is also likely to line up on the same day, in the Gr.3 Lexus Hotham Handicap (2500m) on November 2.
The Chosen One followed up his Gr.2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) win with a ninth-placing behind Mer De Glace in Saturday’s Gr.1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
“We made the decision to ride him back from his wide draw and he was tailed off most of the way, but he ran on,” Baker said. “He ran good sectionals and covered so much ground.
“I thought it was a good run under the circumstances, so he’ll probably go to the Lexus. We’ll decide on that in the next few days.”
The Chosen One holds a nomination for the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 5, but a decision will be made after the Lexus, a race he would have to win to claim ballot-free entry into the Cup.
“It could be a year too soon for him for the Melbourne Cup,” Baker said.
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