LONG considered the best betting day on the Australian racing calendar, Derby Day arrives this Saturday at Flemington and it's a punting paradise.
Not only is the Derby a cracking field, but we are spoiled for choice with the Wakeful Stakes, Coolmore Stud Stakes, Lexus Stakes, Mackinnon Stakes and the Myer Classic among others.
Plenty of Derby day specials and Sportsbet.com.au are refunding any win bet that finishes second, third or fourth.
The Victoria Derby is worth a cool $1.5 million and the field of 17 will make for an exciting contest. The unbeaten Perth galloper Kia Ora Koutou is looking to remain unbeaten, but the Victorian's are wanting to defend their territory.
Current favourite Tarzino is short in the market after running a slashing third at Moonee Valley and it leads the charge for the locals.
Plenty of value around for some classy runners and the trifecta's and first fours always pay big money.
Race 1 – Carbine Club Stakes (1600m)
Bassett looms as a strong winning chance after finishing sixth behind Press Statement in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas last start. The Peter Moody-trained gelding was a handy winner prior when beating the highly-fancied Keen Array at Caulfield and that form line should stack up nicely. There is a concern about the distance, but it's the worthy favourite at $3.30 after opening slightly shorter at $3.20.
Montauk comes over from Sydney with winning form after beating a nice field by 1.25 lengths last start. The Chris Waller-trained colt hasn't contested the high-level fields like some of these, but the mile looks perfect and Hugh Bowman has taken the ride. Plenty of support in the market for it and it now sits at $4.40 after opening at $5.50. Good winning chance based on that.
Mahuta must be included after beating subsequent winner Holler last start. Holler has since destroyed a good field at Moonee Valley and that bodes well for punters of Mahuta. The Darren Weir-trained colt was a six-length winner two back at Kyneton which demonstrated its class and it will get a nice run from barrier two for this. Lots of movement in the market, but it currently stands at $7.50 with bookmakers.
Best bet: Bassett to win ($3.20) at CrownBet.com.au
Race 2 – Mumm Wakeful Stakes (2000m)
My Poppette has been the best-backed runner in the market. The Robert Smerdon-trained filly opened at $6.50 and is now paying $4.40. The support has come after the three-year-old won at Moonee Valley last Saturday by 2.75 lengths. It has credible form around the likes of Badawiya and Miss Gunpowder, which should bode well for this and it looks a strong chance.
Ambience is a lightly-tried runner for John O'Shea which wasn't able to overcome race-rival Dawnie Perfect last start in the Group 3 Ethereal Stakes. The daughter of Street Cry was an impressive winner over Wudang Mountain at Randwick prior, but that form hasn't been franked and the overrated tag has already been produced. The $3.90 available does look a touch short, but it's still improving and could win this.
Dawnie Perfect is a drifter in the market, but it showed its real ability last start. The Clarry Connor-trained filly sat near the back of the field and produced a sustained finish to score by three-quarters-of-a-length. Jim Cassidy stays in the saddle and even though it has drifted from $5.50 to $6.50, it remains a strong chance of winning over a similar field.
Race 3 – Guvera Stakes (1400m)
Artlee was the winner of the Country Championship at Randwick in April and after one run this campaign for a third, it looks a prime contender here. The Todd Willan-trained gelding proved its worth in the big time last start when third behind Dothraki and the rise in distance will be a big assist. The five-year-old gets a good weight of 54kg which brings it right into contention. $6.50 available with bookmakers.
Disposition is the worthy favourite and punters are getting a good price. The Lee and Anthony Freedman-trained gelding is currently paying $4.40, which is a good value price considering it has finished second in two group ones at its last two starts. One came behind Stratum Star and the most recent behind Lucky Hussler in the Toorak Handicap. All things being equal, the $4.40 looks a great bet in this.
Charmed Harmony could offer some value for multiple players. The John Sadler-trained gelding is extremely consistent and it rattled off four-straight wins earlier this year. It didn't get all favours in the Group 1 Rupert Clarke last start where it blundered at the start, but it still managed to run fifth. It has won seven times over this distance and the $10 available looks like good value. Handy place chance at $3.30.
Best Bet: Disposition to win ($4.40) at Bet365.com.au
Race 4 – Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m)
Boom colt Exosphere is taking all the money with bookmakers and rightfully so. The John O'Shea-trained colt has won three consecutive races which has included the Group 1 Golden Rose at Rosehill. The exciting son of Lonhro has been spacing fields of late which included putting 1.25 lengths on Press Statement which has subsequently won the Caulfield Guineas. $1.40 is short, but multi-bettors will be included it in all of their bets.
Keen Array deserves a mention after winning the Listed Blue Sapphire Stakes at Caulfield last time out. The Hayes/Dabernig-trained gelding is unbeaten in two starts at this distance and earlier this year it produced wins by seven and eight lengths respectively. It has been up for awhile this preparation which is a concern, but the $11 available is a good price for each way bettors.
Hellbent was held in high regard last start when starting as the $1.80 favourite. It didn't get much luck in the straight and was beaten by Counterattack, but it could make amends in this. The three-year-old colt was a four-length winner two back and if it finds the lead, it could prove tough to run down. Punters wanted a better price than the $15 offered during the week and it's now sitting at $19.
Race 5 – Lexus Stakes (2500m)
It's extremely rare to see a Saeed Bin Suroor-trained runner in on Derby day, but Elhaame needs to qualify for the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday. The six-year-old is a six-time winner from 20 starts, but it hasn't raced against much opposition in Europe. It has narrowly won its last two races, but although the most recent race was at stakes level, the stake was only $34,000. It has been respected in the market at $7.50, but a win would surprise at this stage.
Zanteca is a runner that shouldn't be overlooked at odds. After winning solidly at Geelong last start, the Darren Weir-trained mare gets in well on the weights at 54kg and it will see out this distance. The daughter of Zabeel could run two miles and it's a legitimate chance of getting there next week. Value chance at $10 with most bookmakers.
Ruling Dynasty was an impressive winner at Randwick last start. The James Cummings-trained horse finished strongly along the inside and the rise in distance should be perfect for it. It has form in behind the likes of Mongolian Khan and Complacent, so the class is there and this could be its calling card. Drawn the rail with only 54.5kg to carry, so the $6 looks spot on.
Best Bet: Zanteca to win ($10) at Sportsbet.com.au
Race 6 – Mackinnon Stakes (2000m)
Magic Hurricane missed out on the Caulfield Cup start, but it gets a chance to show the handicappers why it should have been included. The John O'Shea-trained import is coming off a last start win in the Group 1 Metropolian where it defeated Beaten Up by two lengths. That might not be the strongest form line this spring and the drop back in distance won't suit, but it has been well supported at $5.50 after opening at $6.
Pornichet produced a great run for fourth in the Group 1 Cox Plate last Saturday and that experience will only give it confidence. The Gai Waterhouse-trained horse sat near the rear of the 14-horse field and it ran good sectionals to run fourth, albeit nine lengths behind the winner Winx. That form should stack up nicely for this and the $8 looks like good value.
By all accounts, Flamingo Star is in very good order according to Chris Waller. The six-year-old import hasn't won in its last five starts, but it flew home late for fifth in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap and the rise in distance to 2000 metres should be ideal. It rises in weight which isn't great for punters, but Waller is confident and it has stayed steady at $8 all week.
Best Bet: Pornichet to place ($2.80) at WilliamHill.com.au
Race 7 – AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m)
Kia Ora Koutou is an unbeaten gelding for Lark Hill trainer Adam Durrant. The son of Blackfriars has won all four starts by a combined margin of 6.25 lengths and it gets the inside draw for this. There are some doubts over the class of opposition it has defeated to date, but there are plenty of confident punters about. It looks a strong winning chance, but the $8 might be a touch short for our liking having not seen it race outside of Perth.
Tarzino is the very short favourite at $2.30 after running home strongly at Moonee Valley last start. The Mick Price-trained looks a natural improver over the 2500-metre distance and most punters are confident it will get the staying distance. Running around Moonee Valley last start didn't entirely suit and switching to Flemington should suit perfectly. Big chance, but $2.30 isn't great value.
Pay Up Bro didn't get much luck in the Geelong Classic where it finished third behind Extra Choice. The John Moloney-trained gelding will be well suited to the distance after running on at its last three starts and it defeated race-rival Get The Picture by 1.25 lengths four starts back at Ballarat. It has drawn wide in barrier 15, but over this distance that shouldn't be a problem. Value runner at $13 after opening at $11.
Race 8 – Myer Classic (1600m)
1000 Guineas winner Stay With Me has been given a tough draw of 15, but it's a great chance of winning at the weights. The Hayes/Dabernig-trained filly is giving away plenty of class to this field, but carrying only 49kg has its advantages. It has an 8kg advantage over top weight Royal Descent and when you have beaten subsequent winner Jameka by 1.75 lengths, that form reads well for this. Needs some luck, but punters are confident at $4.20.
Royal Descent was a big failure in the Caulfield Cup, but trainer Chris Waller says it has pulled up well and punters shouldn't be put off by that performance. The six-year-old was in good form prior with placings behind Preferment, Kermadec and Complacent. It has yet to win in nine attempts at this distance, but it has placed in all nine starts and it can handle all track conditions. Solid chance at $6 in the market after touching $6.50 at one stage.
Former New Zealand runner Azkadellia flew home for second in the Group 3 Tesio Stakes and it should get a better run from barrier six. The Ciaron Maher-trained mare has finished out of the money only once from seven starts and bookmakers have it firmly in the market. The four-year-old is currently at $8.50 after opening at $8, but it represents a good winning chance.
Best Bet: Royal Descent to place ($2.25) at Bet365.com.au
Race 9 – Tabcorp Stakes (1200m)
Backers of Under The Louvre have been pulling their hair out all season, but it's knocking on the door and this field looks well within its reach. The Robert Smerdon-trained horse finished third behind Stratum Star in the Group 1 Rupert Clarke and second behind Vashka last start. It got too far back last time out and it should settle closer from barrier two. Will win shortly and the $4 is better value than in recent starts.
Delectation is a four-time winner from 18 starts which ran well for second behind Chautauqua last start. The four-year-old has placed twice on this track and having Hugh Bowman in the saddle is a big assist. It is a three-time winner at this distance and punters have backed it confidently. $5.50 currently available with bookmakers so respect here.
Kuro was a disappointment when well backed last start, but punters are getting great value in this. The Lee and Anthony Freedman-trained horse finished 4.35 lengths behind Lumosty, but the extra distance should suit nicely and it drops in weight. Craig Williams takes the ride and the $13 available is good value considering it hasn't been shorter than $7 in its last five starts.
Best Bet: Under The Louvre to win ($4) at Sportsbet.com.au