Deal me out, says Ray, as multiple factors weigh against colt in Friday’s derby lead-up

Lincoln Farms’ trainer Ray Green loves American Dealer because he never goes a bad race but he says he wouldn’t recommend punting him at Alexandra Park on Friday night.

Not only has the little three-year-old drawn the outside of the gate in the seventh race but he meets some tough older rivals and has been “a bit sickly” in recent weeks.

Under normal circumstances American Dealer would have been in Christchurch preparing for the traditional derby lead-up race, the Vero Flying Stakes, at Addington on Friday night.

But frustratingly the bug which has affected his Pukekohe stable for the last two months has yet to completely disappear.

“I’d have had to go down (to Christchurch) over a week ago and I didn’t want to push him into a big, long haul when he’s probably not 100%.

“Everything here has had the bug. It’s not so bad - they haven’t been coughing so it’s not in their lungs - it’s more like a head cold, with snotty noses.

“We’ve been treating them and it is getting better but I thought it would have been gone by now, it’s been months.”

Green says the bug feeds off the dry and dusty environment - “Once the temperature drops it will go.”

Green hasn’t booked American Dealer for the float trip for Christchurch yet but, all going well on Friday night, he says he’ll travel down next week, well before the $200,000 Diamond Creek Farm New Zealand Derby on April 9.

Racing tough, older horses is a hard transition to make for American Dealer.Racing tough, older horses is a hard transition to make for American Dealer.“I want to give him plenty of time to recover. They have a bit of a break at Bulls but it’s a marathon trip and it takes its toll. He hasn’t done it on the way down before as we flew last time.”

American Dealer hasn’t raced since running a brave third behind Krug and Luke John in the Woodlands Stud Northern Derby on March 5.

“He had to do all the donkey work in the Northern Derby, heading the chase after Krug and he only capitulated the last bit.”

Green got a good gauge on where the horse is at last Friday at the Pukekohe workouts when he led all the way in a left-handed heat over 2050 metres.

The little colt only had to be tapped up a couple of times by driver Zachary Butcher to hold off Mimi E Coco and Superbass, running slick closing sectionals of 56.5 and 26.9, clocking a mile rate of 1:59.6 for the trip.

While that gave Green some confidence that American Dealer’s health has returned to normal he’s not labelling the horse a winner on Friday night.

“He’ll go his usual honest race (the horse has paid a dividend in 14 of his 18 starts) but our main mission is to give him a decent prep race for the derby.

“From the draw he won’t get a good trip and they’re a nice bunch of horses so it won’t be easy for him.

“Arna Donnelly’s pair (Kango and Taipo) are pretty good so I’m not expecting him to towel them up. These four-year-olds are that much tougher and it’s always hard for a young horse making the transition.”

Arden’s Horizon had no chance on debut having to drag a punctured tyre for most of the race. PHOTO: Trish Dunell.Arden’s Horizon had no chance on debut having to drag a punctured tyre for most of the race. PHOTO: Trish Dunell.Tyre punctured

Green is much more bullish about the chances of two-year-old Arden’s Horizon who has his second start in the eighth race.

Green says you can put the line through Arden’s Horizon’s debut on March 12 when he ran sixth for David Butcher but had to drag a punctured tyre for the last 1500 metres of the race after his wheel was struck by a rival.

“That really poleaxes them and you could have forgiven David if he’d pulled him up. That wasn’t ideal for his debut.

“But he’s worked and trialled well since.”

Last Friday at the Pukekohe workouts, Arden’s Horizon showed good gate speed to lead and held stablemates Hail Lucius and Nirvana Franco over a mobile 1609 metres in a mile rate of 1:59.6, home in 58.4 and 27.9.

“From two, I’m picking he’ll be the one to beat on Friday. He’s developing into a nice little horse. He’s a Bettor’s Delight and they take a little time to find their feet but he keeps on improving and I’m expecting him to go a good race.”

“Hail Lucious is going to get back from the draw. He’s a nice little fella who just lost the plot first time at the Park and you can excuse that.

“He just got a little bit lost round the last corner and, by the time they straightened, the others were in full flight. Maurice (McKendry) said if he’d handled the last bend, he would have been right with them.”

The Sportswriter gelding was doing his best work late at the workouts last Friday, popping out of the one-one turning for home to get within a neck of Arden’s Horizon at the post.

Good each way chance

The Lincoln Farms attack on Friday opens in the second race with Smokinhotcheddar, whom Green rates a good each way chance.

“If she repeats that last run she’s a serious chance. She’s very honest and the draw (five) won’t worry her - she’s not wonderful out of the gate - but she always seems to go a good race.”

Smokinhotcheddar was trapped in the death seat for the last 1200 metres of her race last time and was caught only late by Cashlodo Flybye who enjoyed a sweet trip on her back.

Two starts back she ran a game third behind much more talented rivals in Plutonium Lady and Need You Now in the Listed Northern Mares’ Classic.

Tartan Robyn, however, will need plenty of luck from the outside of the arm in the fourth race.

With a form line of 6454 since arriving in the north, the six-year-old has been devoid of luck, but was doing his best work late behind Last Tango In Heaven at his last start.

“He’s honest enough but I can’t see him being able to sit parked, he needs a trip.”

Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Thursday night at Cambridge

Race 2: Commander Lincoln

“I thought he went quite well last time and he’s a chance of getting some of it. Andrew knows the horse well and, while he’s no champion, he tries hard.”

Race 6: Obadiah Dragon

“I can’t fault how he’s racing and he’s been unlucky several times at Cambridge. Yes, the others are higher graded than him but none of them are stars and most of the time at Cambridge the ones who get the good trips win. From the good draw, absolutely he can win. I wouldn’t like to be laying him.”

Dan Costello Race Photography