Imperatriz is close enough to odds-on territory as she looks to extend her impressive winning streak heading to Flemington as hot favourite for the Group 1 $3 million Champions Sprint (1200m) on Saturday.
Stakes Day concludes the elite racing action of the Melbourne Cup Carnival for another year at headquarters on the weekend with the best sprinters remaining in work doing battle in the Champions Sprint field.
It looks a potentially one-horse affair according to the bookies however with Mark Walker‘s Kiwi expat, the now Cranbourne-based Imperatriz, the $2.10 favourite through Ladbrokes.
The brilliant five-year-old daughter of I Am Invincible is a 16-time winner from 22 starts and has won her past four on the trot going back to the autumn.
All four of her latest turf triumphs have been at her pet Moonee Valley track including a trio of Group 1 victories in the William Reid, Moir and most recently the Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes over the six furlongs by 3.25 lengths on Cox Plate Day.
Saturday sees her down the famous Flemington ‘Straight Six’ for the first time and how she handles the track will be key to her chances.
Her record is imposing however with a stellar strike-rate at the distance (8:6-1-1), winning form up to a mile suggesting the straight won’t have her losing stream, and she doesn’t need to do much improving to salute for the punters again.
There are a few punters taking on the favourite in Champions Sprint betting however with money coming for the James Cummings-trained In Secret to score an upset into $3.90.
The four-year-old fellow I Am Invincible mare is a two-time Group 1 winner at the track and distance having won the Coolmore Stud Stakes and Newmarket Handicap here over her career.
She has been outstanding in Sydney this spring against the top-tier sprinters.
At her latest run she was eye-catching when fourth to Think About it only a length beaten from the outside barrier (12 of 12) in the $20 million The Everest (1200m).
In Secret now heads south off a freshen-up at a track and trip she loves and is drawn to get a charmed run from barrier five with James McDonald, who partnered Thursday’s VRC Oaks winner Zardozi to victory at the track, to ride.
The rest of the field can be found at double-figures including the in-form Clinton McDonald-trained Star Patrol ($15) who has won the Group 2 Bobbie Lewis – Gilgai Stakes double at the course and distance this prep.
Other last start winners in the mix that could prove potential value include the rails-drawn Ciaron Maher & David Eustace-trained Bella Nipotina ($13) who saluted in Sydney’s $3 million Giga Kick Stakes, Chris Waller‘s $2 million The Invitation winner Espiona ($15) and Asfoora ($13).
The Henry Dwyer-trained Asfoora was second to Imperatriz two back in the Moir Stakes before returning to winning form in the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes (1100m) with a three-length romp home at Caulfield last month.
The 2023 Champions Sprint is set to run as Race 6 at 3:50pm (AEDT) on the nine-race Stakes Day card.
2023 Champions Sprint Field & Barriers
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Probable Weight||Penalty||Hcp Rating|
|1||x10x8826x1||FRONT PAGE||Matthew Dale||Tyler Schiller||7||58.5kg||104|
|2||123x57x138||BUENOS NOCHES||Matthew Smith||Blake Shinn||11||58.5kg||109|
|3||47x12284x6||LOFTY STRIKE||Julius Sandhu||Damien Oliver||4||58.5kg||108|
|4||2x3x160x11||STAR PATROL||Clinton McDonald||Ben Melham||6||58.5kg||106|
|5||x15x11x312||AIRMAN||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Jye McNeil||10||58.5kg||103|
|6||30236×3331||BELLA NIPOTINA||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Craig Williams||1||56.5kg||114|
|7||1x1317x244||IN SECRET||James Cummings||James McDonald||5||56.5kg||115|
|8||x11121x111||IMPERATRIZ||Mark Walker||Opie Bosson||8||56.5kg||118|
|9||x6117x2171||ESPIONA||Chris Waller||Kerrin McEvoy||3||56.5kg||112|
|10||11x344x121||ASFOORA||Henry Dwyer||Mitchell Aitken||9||56.5kg||111|
|11||1262×4395||C’EST MAGIQUE||Grahame Begg||Michael Dee||2||56.5kg||95|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.