Moonlight Maid will join a couple of elite fillies if she can defeat her male rivals in a Classics preview at The Valley.
Saturday’s Group Two Drummond Golf Vase (2040m) is a one of a number of lead-up races for the three-year-olds heading to the Victoria Derby and VRC Oaks, both over 2500m at Flemington, during the Melbourne Cup carnival.
In the past 20 years, only two fillies, Jameka (2015) and Aloisia (2017), have beaten the colts and geldings in the Vase before racing as favourite in the Oaks, this year run on November 7.
Jameka went on to win the Oaks, and later the Caulfield Cup, while Aloisia finished out of the money.
Moonlight Maid enters Saturday’s race off a victory in the Edward Manifold Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on October 5.
Trainer Mitch Freedman said Saturday’s race would determine whether the VRC Oaks was a realistic target for Moonlight Maid who has drawn barrier seven in the nine-horse field.
“I think that wide draw helps her to settle out the back and make one run at them late,” Freedman said.
“I just want to see her run out the 2000 metres strongly.
“We plan to go to the Oaks but we’ll see how she handles this and how she comes through it.
“She’s only a young horse and she needs to put her hand up to do it and not have us make her do it.”
Freedman said he decided to bypass the more conventional path to the Oaks with Moonlight Maid via last week’s Ethereal Stakes and next week’s Wakeful Stakes, both for fillies, believing the three-week gap from the Manifold Stakes was a better fit.
“Then there’s a 12-day back-up and I think this way it will have her in a better shape of mind to settle over the 2500 metres,” Freedman said.
Moonlight Maid is the $4 second favourite behind Sydney visitor Battenburg at $2.40.