TWO of the pre-post Oaks co-favourites, Miss Darcey and Saint Minerva, will not be running in the fillies classic at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Miss Darcey’s trainer Anthony Cummings has decided to end her winter campaign with an eye to the spring and Alan Bailey, the trainer of the promising Saint Minerva, is convinced she will be a ballot victim.
Saint Minerva was marked as a $5.50 equal favourite after her five-length romp to win over 1710m at Ipswich in a Class 1 event on May 15 but she has only $18,050 in stake earnings from her six starts.
Saint Minerva is 26th on the qualifying order after first acceptors were declared last week.
“There are so many staying fillies around this year I don’t think she could possibly make the field,” Bailey said.
“It’s frustrating because she has a bit to offer. I don’t have any doubt she could handle the step up to 2400 metres.
“She has been unlucky in a few of her runs. We just had to be patient with her to allow her to mature.”
Bailey will enter Saint Minerva for the 2200m Grand Prix on the same program.
Miss Darcey looked a prime Oaks candidate after her strong fifth in the weight-for-age Doomben Cup 2009 against seasoned stayers last start when she had a wide passage throughout.
“I have a strong chance in the Oaks with Nothin Leica Cat and Miss Darcey has been through a long campaign this year,” Cummings said.
“I just feel another hard run at 2400 metres might make it hard to get her back up for the spring.”
Cummings clearly thinks Nothin Leica Cat can win the Oaks. The filly broke through for her initial win with a strong staying effort to score over 2200m at the Gold Coast nine days ago.
Despite the absence of the two fancied runners the Oaks still is a race with a lot of depth in numbers and quality.
New Zealand filly Ekstreme is likely to now emerge as a clear favourite. She was impressive when runner-up in the Doomben Roses last start.
Ekstreme is a seasoned campaigner with 16 starts. She has proved herself at 2400m when a most unlucky eighth in the New Zealand Oaks.
Newcastle trainer Kris Lees is keen to run Lacada Siren in the Oaks. The Giant’s Causeway filly finished a good second to the highly rated Bid Spotter over 2000m at Randwick on Saturday.
The second placing lifted Lacada Siren’s stake earnings to $37,110. She is currently 21st on the order of entry but sure to make the field when final acceptances are taken on Wednesday.
Michael Rodd has picked up the Oaks mount on Kiwi filly Juice. Michael Walker, suspended at Doomben on Saturday, rode her in the Roses last start.
Trainer John Wheeler expects big improvement from Juice who galloped strongly at Eagle Farm on Saturday morning.
“It looks a very good Oaks field this year but the New Zealand from is holding up and Juice has shown she is up there with those horses in New Zealand,” Wheeler said.
Article by Bart Sinclair http://www.news.com.au