TJ Smith Stakes - PICK: #3 Santa Ana Lane
One of the biggest cards of the year in Australia takes place at Royal Randwick Saturday, April 4, which is Friday night by US standards. TVG will be airing four Group 1 races, including the rich Doncaster Mile and the Australian Derby.
The action starts off with the Inglis Sires’ Stakes, a $500,000 race for juveniles. There are some very expensive and well-bred youngsters in here, including #3 Prague, who is the most expensive horse in the race, having been knocked down for AUD$1.6 million (approximately $975,000) at the 2019 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale. By the standout sire Redoute's Choice, he is a half-brother to Stratum Star, who was himself underwhelming as a juvenile but went on to be a multiple Group 1 winner. His best runs have been jumping from inside gates and settling on the pace, which makes his barrier 15 draw a big concern.
#1 Mamaragan is well backed, having won on debut in the Group 2 Skyline Stakes and running 3rd in the prestigious Group 1 Golden Slipper. He has already more than doubled his purchase price of $180,000. He is also partnered by Nash Rawiller, who is one of two jockeys in the race to have won it three times (the other being Hugh Bowman on #4 King's Legacy).
#6 Holyfield is the only horse in the field who has won over 1400 meters at the Group level, having won the Group 3 Baillieu/Schweppervescence on March 28. Other proven runners include Ole Kirk and Larimer Street, who have both placed at the distance at group level.
#15 Dismissal is the only horse to carry a female rider with Rachel King in the saddle. The only other female to ride an Inglis Sires' winner was Michelle Payne on Yosei in 2010.
In the $1 million Australian Derby (G1), #1 Castelvecchio sold for a mere AUD$150,000 as a yearling. His impressive last start in the Rosehill Guineas took his total winnings to $2,930,750. However, this is his first attempt at the 2400-meter trip. His longest trip so far was over 2040 meters when running 2nd to Lys Gracieux (JPN) in the Cox Plate in October. His sire Dundeel won this race in 2013.
#6 Quick Thinker is trained by Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman. The New Zealand based training duo have won this race on three occasions with Dundeel, Mongolian Khan (2015), and Jon Snow (2017). In total contrast to the Inglis Sires with its multiple multimillion-dollar yearling prices, #9 Skiddaw has the most expensive price tag in the race of $240,000. #3 Warning won the Victorian Derby last year over 2500 meters from barrier 10. In this race he again draws barrier 10.
The $1.25 million T J Smith Stakes (G1) goes as Race 8. The popular Black Caviar is a recent winner of this event. #3 Santa Ana Lane is drawn well in barrier 2 to defend his title after winning this race last year. He went into last year's race following a midfield finish first up after a spell, followed by a soft barrier trial. He goes into this edition with a similar preparation. He also loves this track and distance, with six starts for two wins and two placings. The race also features two-time Everest winner Redzel.
Race 9 is the featured $1.5 million Doncaster Mile. #1 Melody Belle is a crowd favorite in both her home country of New Zealand and in Australia. She has amassed $3.3 million in just 28 starts. Her most recent Group 1 win was in the Empire Rose over a mile, on a soft course. This time she runs over a mile with predicted rain. A win would make her the 34th filly or mare to win the race, with the most recent being Winx in 2016. Her most recent start was in the All Star Mile, a race where the public vote for the horses they want to contend. Melody Belle received 11,898 votes from the total of 135,097 to secure her place in the field where she ran 3rd beaten just over a length.
#3 Homesman is the first of two American-bred horses in the race. He was shipped to the United Kingdom and trained by Aidan O'Brien but returned to the United States briefly to run 3rd in the Grade1 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes. He arrived in Australia in August 2017 and was trained by Liam Howley before moving to Anthony Freedman prior to his most recent start.
#11 Con Te Partiro was imported to Australia from the States in January, 2019. Since then she has raced solely in Group company, starting her time in Australia with a Group 3 win and most recently winning the Group 1 Coolmore on a heavy track. She had previously won at Keeneland and Saratoga before shipping across the pond to win the Sandringham Stakes at Royal Ascot.