Racing: Pressure on Survived in Qld Derby

By Mike Dillon

Australian state's $595,000 race proves elusive target for New Zealand horses.

Golden Soul works out on the sand at Belmont in preparation for tomorrow's feature. She is a 10-1 prepost chance. Photo / AP
Golden Soul works out on the sand at Belmont in preparation for tomorrow's feature. She is a 10-1 prepost chance. Photo / AP

The Queensland Derby is considered one of Australia's easiest derbies to win.

Certainly it doesn't have the standing of Flemington's Victoria Derby or the Australian Derby at Randwick.

The record book shows something different.

New Zealand has won two of the last six Australian Derbies and two of the last three Victoria Derbies.

In the sunshine of Queensland we've won the state's Derby just once in 21 years.

The John Wheeler-trained Court Ruler hardly stands out as a household name, but in 2009 he did manage to beat that year's eventual Melbourne Cup victor Shocking in the Queensland Derby.

Before that you had to go back to 1992 to the O'Sullivan-trained Royal Magic. She made it look easy by taking a narrow victory in the Queensland Oaks and backing up a week later for an easy Queensland Derby victory.

Having won the race just once subsequently puts more pressure than just a shocking barrier draw on the New Zealand joint Derby favourite Survived this afternoon.

Over the years the A$500,000 ($595,000) Queensland Derby does not overall read like a list of champions, but the scoreboard includes Strawberry Road, Kingston Town and Tulloch. And the great Rough Habit won it for us in 1990.

Survived, good as he is, will not be rated in anything like the same class if he can overcome adversity at Eagle Farm today, but he will make the New Zealand Derby record considerably more respectable if he and Jonathan Riddell can get over the line in front.

All it requires is for Riddell to plot a late-race path for Survived that overshadows the terrible blunder the New Zealand jock made on the home bend when he finished second to today's joint favourite Hawkspur in the lead-up Rough Habit Plate.

That blue was so out of character as to be ridiculous.

With that memory sitting somewhere in the background, to believe Riddell could do the same this time is impossible to imagine.

Here is one scenario - fellow New Zealander Usainity easily beat Hawkspur in the Packer Plate in Sydney before heading to Queensland.

Hawkspur came out and won his two subsequent Queensland efforts, including the Rough Habit defeat of Survived.

On exposed form Usainity would always struggle to defeat Survived, which makes the latter a good bet at $3.90 today if he gets his luck and that's a good risk to take.

Survived and Hawkspur are joint favourites at $3.90, ahead of the Zabeel 3-year-old that won last week, Gondokoro.

Quintessential came close to adding to New Zealand's Queensland Derby record when she was second last year after winning the Oaks.

She lines up in the A$300,000 Brisbane Cup this afternoon as the $6 favourite after winning both her Queensland starts this preparation. •Kentucky Derby winner Orb is the horse to beat in the Belmont Stakes in New York tomorrow (NZT).

Despite finishing fourth behind Oxbow in the Preakness, Orb was made the 3-1 morning-line favorite in a 14-horse field entered on Wednesday for the final leg of the Triple Crown. The colt trained by Shug McGaughey drew the No5 post position.

Oxbow, who will leave from the No7 post for trainer D. Wayne Lukas, was the third betting choice at 5-1. Revolutionary, one of trainer Todd Pletcher's record five horses in the field, is the second choice at 9-2. The field is the largest since 1996.

"I think Shug has established his horse as the favorite today, and that's right," Lukas, who has won a record 14 Triple Crown races, including the Belmont four times, told the New York Post. "But I think he knows he has to take care of business in getting us out of the way, too."

Revolutionary did not run in the Preakness after finishing third in the Derby. Pletcher's other entries for the 1-mile Belmont are the filly Unlimited Budget, Overanalyze, Palice Malice and Midnight Taboo.

Unlimited Budget, who will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik, will attempt to become the fourth filly to win the Belmont. Pletcher's Rags to Riches was the most recent to do it in 2007. Unlimited Budget, the co-fourth choice with Freedom Child at 8-1, won her first four starts before finishing third in the Kentucky Oaks.

"She's a big strong filly from a physical standpoint, and she will match up well," Pletcher said. "My biggest concern is the mile and a half."

McGaughey said he's pleased with the draw, which puts his colt closer to the middle of the pack rather than the rail, which proved to be a problem in the Preakness. "I'm going to strike a line through the Preakness," he said.

"It just wasn't our day. It was Wayne Lukas and Oxbow's. And Gary Stevens.

"We're going to regroup and hopefully you'll see the right horse here [tomorrow]."

- NZ Herald

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