Stokes looking to buck a bad week with Huck in Futurity. Adelaide trainer Philip Stokes will feel none of his several broken ribs suffered earlier this week when kicked by a horse, if his stable-star Hucklebuck can win Saturday’s Group 1 Futurity Stakes at Caulfield. Stokes was rushed to hospital on Monday after the incident at Gawler trials but will be track-side Saturday for the $500,000 feature where his runner is $5.00 and on the second line of betting. Coming off a stunning effort in the C F Orr Stakes a fortnight ago, Hucklebuck is searching for second Group 1 victory and has drawn to get all the favours, as opposed to the Orr. Winner of the Orr, Suavito, won this race last year and is rated a $6.00 chance to make it consecutive victories. If successful, she’ll be the fourth horse in the past six years to complete the Orr/Futurity double, joining the likes of Moment Of Change, All Too Hard and Typhoon Tracey.
1. BOBAN – G Schofield (2)
Ran a cracking run fresh in last fortnight’s C F Orr Stakes (1400m), finishing strongly to finish sixth (2.2 lengths) from the winner Suavito. Settled second last from the wide draw int the Orr, before easing to the outside and producing his best late. Gets a cheaper run here from an inside gate and has finished second and fourth (half a length) at his two most recent second-up runs – both Group 1’s over 1400m.
2. REBEL DANE – D Oliver (8)
Sent out the $3.70 favourite when resuming in the Group 2 Australian Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley, before having every change after a gun-run in the Group 1 C F Orr Stakes and finishing fifth (1.4 lengths) behind Suavito. The Orr result now gives the 6yo stallion, eight top five finishes at the elite level since his only Group 1 victory – 2013’s Rupert Clarke Stakes. Will be competitive again but strike rate at this level doesn’t read well.
3. TURN ME LOOSE – O Bosson (9)
Talented front-running New Zealander who took all before him last spring, including the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m). Returned to racing the well-supported fav in the C F Orr Stakes (1400m) where, from gate 10, he had to work early to find his customary position. Had a margin into the straight and led into the final 100m before finishing fourth, only 1.3 lengths behind Suavito. Lost no admirers last time out, fitter again and will give them plenty to chase down.
4. HUCKLEBUCK – D Tourneur (4)
Returned from a lengthy spell with a credible fourth (1.2 lengths) in the Australian Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley behind Holler, before finishing an excellent third (1.2 lengths) in the C F Orr Stake (1400m). Settled wide with cover, just worse than midfield from the widest gate in a field of 18 last start, angled his way into the clear at the top of the straight and finishing off strongly. Third up now, will be at this best. Drawn to get the perfect run and bound to competitive.
5. TRUST IN A GUST – B Rawiller (10)
No surprise to see him drift in betting ($11 – $13) and finish fifth behind Holler when first up off a twenty-four week break in the Australian Stakes (1200m) late last month. Had three weeks off before lining up in the C F Orr Stakes but gate 15 saw him posted three deep facing the breeze, a few length of the leading group in transit. He battled on well in the straight, holding his position to finish eighth, but only 2.6 lengths from winner, Suavito. Fitter for having two runs under his belt, but another awkward draw may see him encounter another tough run, especially if they’re looking to go forward.
6. STRATUM STAR – M Zahra (5)
Like his stable-mate Trust In A Gust, he didn’t fare well at the barrier draw for the C F Orr Stakes, his first run in fifteen weeks, and jumped from the fourteen alley. He settled three deep with cover before peeling out top of the straight. Looked set to figure in the finish but condition told inside the 100m, and he finished seventh (2.4 lengths) behind Suavito. Good effort fresh in a hot race. Draws much more favourably here and the double figure odds are attractive for those looking wider or for some value in the multiples.
7. ENTIRELY PLATINUM – J Winks (7)
Despite being placed twice at Group 1 level during last spring, it has been over a year and twelve runs since this now 6yo last saluted. He pushed forward and was caught wide in the initial stages of the C F Orr Stakes, his first run back from a spell, before settling second as they headed down the side. He was able to hold his position in the first half of the straight but was swamped inside the furlong, finishing fifteenth (4.3 lengths). Ran third (long neck) in the G1 Makybe Diva (1600m) second up last campaign but has a lot of improvement to make here if he’s to repeat that effort.
8. SCISSOR KICK – C Williams (6)
Trainer Paul Messara is enjoying a good run at the moment but has certainly picked a tough task Scissor Kick’s return, his first outing since starring in the last season’s 3yo races. He looked good in a recent Cranbourne trial, finishing second to Lizard Island – who ran well first up last weekend, and although he maps well from gate six for this event, this is a very strong race and would prefer to see what he shows after such a lengthy lay-off of almost ten months.
9. THE UNITED STATES – M Payne (11)
First time we’ll see this Robert Hickmott trained galloper since he finished down the track in last year’s Melbourne Cup behind Pirate Of Penzance. Not public trials for this 6yo former import but from his gate, expect him to get back and over the seven furlongs, found several of his competitors too slick.
10. SUAVITO – L Currie (3)
Will not see a better run or ride than hers in the C F Orr Stakes last fortnight, her first run back from a spell. Three back on the fence in the run, she got the run at the right time top of the straight, and was too good in the run home, beating the unlucky Lucky Hussler by a length. It all went according to plan for her last start but that was her fifth win from her past six starts – two of them at Group 1. Will again get the right run and in current form, can’t be left out of calculations.
11. POLITENESS – D Dunn (1)
Settled a long way back in the run when resuming from a spell in the G2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m), won by Heatherly who dominated from the front. The Group 1 winner was only starting to hit her straps when the race was all but over, finishing second (5.5 lengths). Step up to 1400m a plus, so too the anticipated solid tempo that should be produced here. Ran a head second to Turn Me Loose in the Emirates Stakes last year and will be charging at him again late here too. Rates a genuine each-way hope in a tough race.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Pace should be good here with Turn Me Loose bound to run them along, Entirely Platinum next with Hucklebuck, Suavito and Stratum Star making the most of their respective draws. Turn Me Loose started $3.80 in the Orr, here at $3.30 in early markets appears a good price given he’ll be fitter for the run, and maybe get a slightly easier time of it in front with the smaller field this time around. Hucklebuck was great in the Orr, and will get the perfect run as well Suavito who improves with each run. Stratum Star the value runner for mine at $13.