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Pre-Entry Handicapping for the Victoria Derby
In the days and weeks leading up to a major Group 1 horse race, things can change in a hurry. With the news that the connections of Group 1 Caulfield Guineas winner Divine Prophet have decided to give their prize colt some rest prior to a Triple Crown run this summer, the Group 1 Victoria Derby has taken on an entirely different feel. A full Victoria Derby field is expected to meet the barrier on October 29, 2016 at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
The AAMI Victoria Derby serves as the opening day feature for the 4-day Melbourne Cup Spring Carnival. The race will be run at 2500 meters on grass for a total purse of AUS$1,500,000 with the winner set to receive AUS$900,000. Weights will be assigned based on allowance conditions. The day's other Group 1 events include the Longines Mile, the Myer Classic and the Coolmore Stud Stakes.
Handicapping the Race
With Divine Prophet's defection, the current list of possibles stands at 30 3-year old colts, geldings or fillies. With the Victoria Derby Form Guide not due out until 4-5 days before the race, the most logical contenders include the following horses (with future book odds).
Sacred Elixir (3.8-1) After closing out the 2015-16 racing season with a huge win in the Group 1 BMW Stakes back in June, Sacred Elixir took his place as the early favorite for the spring's top races for 3-year olds. After getting a bit too riled up prior to the start of the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas, Sacred Elixir ran a disappointing eighth, leaving his supporters wondering about his future. Fortunately, he responded with an easy victory in the Group 2 Super Vase Stakes on the Cox Plate undercard to push himself back into the picture for the Victoria Derby.
So Si Bon (7.0-1) The impeccably bred So Si Bon, out of classic winner So You Think, has been slow to come around at the start of his career. With that said, a strong 3rd in the Super Vase Stakes indicates this one might be on the improve. Given the fact he is bred to get the extra distance, there's a chance So Si Bon's best days are ahead of him.
Good Standing (8.0-1) Good Standing has been racing on the fringes against top competition throughout his short career. A nice run and win in last week's Ladbrokes Classic gives this one a legitimate chance to keep improving as the distances get longer.
Prized Icon (8.0-1) Prized Icon showed great promise as a 2-year old with a win in the Moet & Chandon Champagne Stakes (G1) at short odds. As one of only two Group 1 winners in the race, he could always pop with a sudden form reversal under top trainer James Cummings, who refuses to give up on this colt.
Swear (11.0-1) The mystery horse for the Victoria Derby figures to be Swear. In most cases, Australian derby form dictates that a horse is going to need a prep or two before showing its best. If Swear's connections decide to enter this race, they will be doing so off a long layoff. However, his last race was a strong 2nd in the Moet & Chandon Champagne Stakes (G1) in June, which indicates there is talent here.
Tips for Derby Day could be useful for helping to identify horses in the Victoria Derby that might have hidden form. With that said, Australian derby betting for this race should go through Sacred Elixir. He is bred to run all day and has already proven his form at the Group 1 level. For punters and handicappers that might be concerned about that colt's propensity for getting wound-up, Swear represents an interesting alternative at an attractive price should his connections show enough confidence to go to the barrier.
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