The evolving Karaka Million picture should become a lot clearer after one of the last serious lead-up races at Ellerslie today.
The home of Auckland racing hosts a rare Sunday meeting, with a proven weight-for-age star in Race 1 and New Zealand Derby pointer in the Gingernuts Salver, but perhaps most eyes will be on the juvenile event in Race 2.
It has become a key Karaka Million lead-up race for Jamie Richards and Te Akau in recent years, with KM winners such as Probabeel coming through it.
Richards takes two juveniles to today's 1200m, with Fellini already qualified for our richest 2-year-olds race in 13 days, but not favourite Times Flies.
Taviarma, his other acceptor, has been scratched with shin soreness.
Times Flies went to Pukekohe with a huge reputation last month and loomed up to win but lost in the last 100m, albeit beaten by a good filly in Pacific Dragon.
"He just didn't know how to put her away, although she is a pretty good filly from what we saw at Ellerslie on New Year's Day," says trainer Richards. "So the visor blinkers go on him for Sunday, and with his draw, he will be very hard to beat."
Times Flies will also have champion jockey Opie Bosson on, and should he win today, it could play some role in deciding who Bosson wants to ride in the Karaka Million.
Richards looks like having five in the Karaka Million and whoever Bosson rides will shorten in the market but even victory won't guarantee Time Flies his engagement, as Richards and Te Akau boss David Ellis will also decide who Bosson partners.
The juvenile event follows on from a $55,000 opener to the meeting which looks the ideal race for Royal Performer to bounce back to winning form.
Last season's Group 1 Herbie Dyke winner at Te Rapa has been luckless this campaign but made ground well late in the farcically slow Zabeel Classic on Boxing Day.
He has been given 62kg for today's 2100m handicap but gets 2kg weight relief with apprentice Joe Kamaruddin claiming. While that means he still carries 6kg more than all his other rivals, he should be classy enough to do that if he races up to his best.
Hit The Road Jack might be the hardest to catch if he can get an uncontested lead in a race lacking form.
The Gingernuts Salver has plenty of maidens taking on a proven Group horse in White Noise, who deserves to start a dominant favourite at the level weights.
He was trapped back in the Auckland Guineas on New Year's Day but rushed home late in good sectionals, and if he holds that form, he should be too good for most he meets.
Still, with no definitive Derby favourite yet, any of the emerging 3-year-olds could stake their claim with the classic less than two months away.