Concentration of fillies’ races demands examination
My kingdom for a three-year-old filly with a modicum of ability, a half decent pedigree and the capacity to run 1400 metres.
After all, beginning tomorrow with The Vanity, I could run said animal in any one of four group races restricted to three-year-old fillies, at that distance, on each of the next four Saturdays.
In Melbourne, the Group Two Armanasco Stakes follows next weekend with two weeks to the Group Two Kewney Stakes. That is, at the very least, one too many fillies races at the same distance. Surely it’s time for the Kewney to revert to 1600 metres as it was between 1985 and 2009.
Greg Carpenter – executive general manager, racing of Racing Victoria, acknowledges same. “I think it’s time we looked at it. It certainly demands review and we’ll got through that process,” he said.
That would, of course, include consultation with the Victoria Racing Club, which conducts the race. It switched the Kewney to 1400 metres in the hope of upgrading the race and securing Group One status.
In the meantime, the fourth of the fillies race, sandwiched in between – on 3 March at Randwick – is the Surround Stakes which now happens to have that – albeit very questionable – Group One status. That elevation, as of this year, certainly snuck up on me and many others in the industry.
Promoted to Group One despite the fact that three of the past four winners boast an aggregate of two subsequent wins between them. Elevated although only two of the past eight winners have gone on to Group One success – Streama and More Joyous.
Similarly, the quality of the Melbourne fillies races has arguably been diluted but they’ll still be recorded in the catalogue.
The list of recent Vanity, Armanasco and Kewney winners does include a handful of quality females including last year’s Kewney winner I Am A Star. However, three of the past seven winners of that race did not win again, another two won just once subsequently and none – I Am A Star included – have been later Group One winners.
The past two Vanity winners, Kenedna and Don’t Doubt Mamma, had sound subsequent form and Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed won it in 2011 but you could argue others like Sweet And Speedy, Alzora and Tallow were afforded opportunistic or fortuitous Group race success. That trio did not win again.
You could probably argue likewise with recent Armanasco Stakes winners and subsequent non-winners Meliora and Spirit’s Dance, while Catch A Fire and Sabatini managed just one subsequent win under handicap conditions.
There simply isn’t a raft of household names among the recent winners of these fillies races. There are some of course, like More Joyous, but not many.
Perhaps this matters not and may simply reflect the vagaries of ability and constitution from one crop to another but it certainly demands examination.
And there’s little doubt that most trainers, while happy to capitalise on this abundance of black type opportunities – by even running a place – for their owners, would prefer to see the distances varied.
“It doesn’t make sense to me that we have, in Melbourne, the three fillies races at the same distance. One of them needs to be 1600 metres,” said Cranbourne trainer Michael Kent.
Today’s Vanity certainly affords the unbeaten Henry Dwyer–trained filly Paris Rock a glorious black type chance.
She’s race fit and carries no penalty, unlike the top three rated runners. But, most importantly, she looks almost certain to trail the expected leader Twitchy Frank in a race otherwise (seemingly) devoid of any great forward pressure.
Paris Rock steps up from a three-year-old fillies Benchmark 78 win at Caulfield but, interestingly, that’s the same race in which last year’s winner Kenedna ran third.
The wildcard runner, in my view, is the Lindsay Park-trained Rimraam who is capable racing handier than the other already Group-performed fillies and I think her two recent jump outs were both well above average and more than you’d expect from a middle distance – staying type.
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