Preview of Rosehill's Expressway Stakes January 28th
Written on the 27 January 2017
The Expressway Stakes is a Group 2 Weight-for-age race held January 28th this year at Rosehill Racecourse in Sydney. The race is run over a distance of 1200 metres and is worth $200,000 in prizemoney.
The Gr3 Widden Stakes and Gr3 Canonbury Stakes are also held on the same day as the Expressway Stakes and paves the way for some exciting group racing action ahead.
The Expressway Stakes is the first weight-for-age group race of the new year in Sydney and suits fit, in-form sprinters or returning stars of the turf.
The 1200 distance lends itself to sprinters who may have raced well over the Christmas period in Sydney and might want to tackle a harder event to see if they are up to the task, while better class gallopers might use this race as a springboard to the upcoming feature races during the Sydney autumn racing carnival.
There are only six runners in the Expressway Stakes this year, but it should still be an interesting race. Music Magnate has opened as a clear favourite after two excellent barrier trials which have clearly been a first-up target for some time.
However, as trainer Bjorn Baker admits, it's a nice race for Music Magnate's return but he is not over the line just yet.
"You have a handy horse there in Attention and a couple of Joe Pride's horses there (in Kuro and Ball Of Muscle) and Big Money," Baker said. "It's a tricky little race and let's hope we're competitive in it."
The Rosehill track was rated a Soft 6 on Wednesday with a possible shower predicted in Sydney over the next three days.
"I think he gets through it and that's the one question whether it becomes demanding," Baker said. "Small fields can make for tactically run races but hopefully he runs well and we can look forward with optimism."
Kuro found his best form and he ran an impressive closing to take out the Takeover Target Stakes last start.
Trainer concedes his charges, Kuro and Ball Of Muscle probably couldn't beat Music Magnate at peak fitness but that's not the case in tomorrow's Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m).
"Music Magnate is a good horse but we definitely get him at the right part of his preparation," Pride said. "He is first-up and hasn't run for a long time and trials will have him fit. But he certainly won't be as fit as my two."
"There is a class factor there as well and he is a Group 1 winner and I have a healthy respect for him. But Kuro is rock-hard fit and maybe in two or three runs time Kuro probably wouldn't beat Music Magnate but he will be hard to beat (Saturday)."
Kuro is racing like a rejuvenated sprinter this summer. His Takeover Target Stakes victory at Gosford a fortnight ago brought up his second stakes win from his past three starts.
"He is going terrific and I thought it was about as good as I have ever seen him hit the line the other day," Pride said. "He has placed twice in Group 1s and he is not to be underestimated."
Pride has put Ball Of Muscle over some small jumps in the past two weeks in an effort to spark him back to form. The six-year-old hasn't won since the middle of 2015 and had a soft head before finishing third to Kuro at Gosford last start.
"If you don't change anything, you can't expect to get any different results," Pride said. "I've schooled him a couple of times in the last couple of weeks and I have put a tongue tie and set of blinkers on him."
"I think he gets his opportunity on Satruday but he has been disappointing the last 18 months, no doubt. Ball Of Muscle used to always be able to beat Kuro but on their performances out of the Takeover, you would sound silly suggesting Ball Of Muscle can beat him. But I wouldn't totally underestimate Ball Of Muscle."
As for the Canonbury Stakes, Menari has impressed all three occasions that he has been seen in public and he is set to start the Canonbury Stakes as a clear favourite. There was a lot to like about the way he found the line last start and he still has plenty of upside. The main danger looks to be Showtime. Showtime finished second behind Luiza in the Kirkham Plate and his recent barrier trial at Rosehill Garden was excellent.
The Widden Stakes is a far more competitive race than the Canonbury Stakes and you can make a case for the majority of this field. There has been early money for the debutants Boorooj and Divine Messenger that must be respected, while Teaspoon, One More Honey and Milanese Girl were all impressive on debut. Gai Waterhouse trained Mystical Gal did not have a great deal of luck when she made her racing debut in the Gimcrack Stakes and she is a much better chance than the current price available indicated.