Racing: Stick with mudlarks at Te Rapa

By Mike Dillon

The rain makes a few races very tricky, but the jumps races are not among them.

Toughest for Kentucky Derby winner Orb to beat might be Departing (left) in tomorrow's Preakness Stakes. Photo / AP
Toughest for Kentucky Derby winner Orb to beat might be Departing (left) in tomorrow's Preakness Stakes. Photo / AP

If there is a catchword for punting today, it has to be "be careful".

We don't know how much rain arrived overnight, but they were telling us it was going to be plenty.

Stick with the horses you know - not suspect - will handle the worst of wet weather footing.

Two Taranaki visitors fit that category nicely at Te Rapa today, I Am Sam (No1, R6) and Big Lucy (No13, R9). Both are last start winners, they love the wet and Big Lucy has won at Te Rapa.

Miranda Dravitzki rides both and the 2kg she removes from their handicap is going to be extremely valuable. Big Lucy will go around with the lightest weight in the last race.

The rain makes a few races very tricky, but the jumps races are not among them. There is no reason to suspect the Waikato Hurdles and Steeplechase cannot be won by the horses that took the lead-up races here two weeks ago, Evathreestep (No2, R3) and Morpheus (No2, R5).

With a couple of exceptions, Sea King (No5) being the notable one, Evathreestep does not have a great deal more to beat than a fortnight back, where Morpheus has newcomers in Rioch (No9), No Quota (No3) and Issyosler (No6) to beat. But Morpheus comes in on essentially the minimum weight and looks the obvious one. There is plenty of money to say Rioch can pull it off.

Elusive Gold (No7, R8) has shown she can handle the mud and with a good record already from only a few starts, she looks very promising. Mangaroa Mini (No16) is underrated.

Earlier, Dancing Chief (No4, R4) is twice a winner at Te Rapa and deserves more attention than perhaps his form suggests. Payback (No5) is another who could surprise at odds.

Art Beat (No5, R8) and The Knight (No12) are strong chances in the Rangitikei Gold Cup at Awapuni. Conditions are not going to suit all horses and Innovation is likely to be one of those if the track becomes very heavy.

• Just five of the 18 runners defeated by Orb in the Kentucky Derby have shown up for the return bout in tomorrow's group one Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

With three newcomers taking their place in the second leg of the US Triple Crown for 3-year-olds, the eight competitors to Orb appear to have it all to do after the even-money favourite drew barrier one.

Toughest for Orb to beat might be Departing, who, ironically, shared a paddock with Orb at the Hancock family's historic Claiborne Farm when both were youngsters.

It has been 35 years since the last US Triple Crown winner, when Affirmed won the Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 1978.

- additional reporting, NZ Racing Desk

- NZ Herald

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