Draw makes it tough but the longer derby trip will suit gutsy American Dealer on Friday
Lincoln Farms’ trainer Ray Green hasn’t raised the white flag for Friday night’s $200,000 Woodlands Stud Northern Derby despite American Dealer drawing badly.
With Derby Prelude winner Krug inside him in five, Green knows his little prize fighter is going to need some luck in the running from seven.
“But they’re all under the microscope going 2700 metres for the first time and I don’t think he’ll worry about that because he’s so tough.
“I was hoping he’d draw closer in but hopefully there’ll be a bit of mid-race action and he can get sucked into it.”
Green describes the three-year-olds as an even bunch and says luck in the running will undoubtedly decide the winner. But he knows American Dealer can come out on top for American owners Gordon Banks and Marc Hanover if driver David Butcher can secure the right run.
American Dealer ($4.80) has beaten Krug ($3.20) and It’s All About Faith ($2.70) twice already - in the delayed Sires’ Stakes Final at Auckland last September and a Sires’ Stakes heat at Ashburton last October.
When American Dealer had to start from the second row in the two-year-old Harness Million last September only winner Krug, who enjoyed a trail throughout, ran faster closing sectionals over the 2200 metres.
American Dealer again showed his toughness from a wide draw when in the three-year-old Harness Million on New Year’s Eve he made a long run round the field to park over the last lap and still run winner Aladdin to one and a half lengths.
American Dealer was having his first run for two months last week when third to Krug and It’s All About Faith after sitting parked for the last 900 metres of the Derby Prelude and Green says he has bounced out of the run in great shape.
The draw might stop Green from labelling American Dealer in the derby but Copy That’s five alley in the $47,500 City Of Auckland Free-for-all clinches his ultimate confidence in the speedy pacer.
“Five is a good draw for him and I don’t think anything could stop us getting to the front again.
“I won’t be telling Maurice how to drive the horse but you’d think he’d lead and dominate.
“Last week’s run wasn’t hard for him, he wasn’t overtaxed, and he pulled up great.”
McKendry told Green after Copy That’s fresh-up run that he couldn’t believe how easily he dispatched his rivals, having to pace only 2:40.7 for the 2200 metres.
Copy That has opened at $1.40 for the Free-for-all, again at 2200 metres, with pole runner Christianshavtime ($4.60) the only one given any chance of beating him.
Lincoln Farms won’t have any runners in the Young Guns colts and geldings final on Friday night after Green was not happy with the way Argyle trained this week and sent him for a spell.
But Major Grace will fly the flag in the fillies’ final, albeit as one of the outsiders at $18.
The Art Major filly has run only sixth and ninth in her two races so far but Green points out she had no chance either time from bad draws and gets the pole on Friday.
“She hasn’t been able to get into the race in her previous starts from bad draws. This is by far the best draw she’s had and she should get a good trip from there.”
Major Grace has had two workouts since her last race, running second both times, and Green was pleased with her effort last Saturday.
Tartan Robyn would only have to repeat his tough effort of last Friday to go close in the second race.
Having only his second run for Lincoln Farms, the former southerner had to be driven hard out of the gate to hold the lead, was attacked again down the back straight and again at the bell.
The race was run at a hectic clip and saw winner J Bee clock 2:38.3 for the 2200 metres, Tartan Robyn himself recording 2:40.
“That’s as fast as he’s been in his life and he did well to hold on for fourth after being savaged in front the whole way,” Green said.
“He’s no champion but he’s quite capable of winning a couple of races in Auckland.”
Smokinhotcheddar will have to improve to feature in the third race, says Green.
“She had her chance last week, with a beautiful trail the whole way, but was beaten for speed.”
Green agreed to transfer Smokinhotcheddar to the Northern Mares’ Classic when there were only four nominations and agrees she will struggle to complete with those far higher in the ratings.
Captain Nemo, on the other hand, drops from the company of the top three-year-olds last week to a rating 47 to 55 event in the last race, and comes up with gate two. “
“He’s not good enough to mix it with the top ones and he’s back where he belongs in this grade. I’m sure he’ll be competitive from the good draw.”
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Friday night at Cambridge
Race 3: Lincoln Lou
“He’s a beautiful little horse and I’m looking forward to seeing him run. It’s hard to know how good he is, or how far he’ll go, but I guess we’ll find out on Friday. He’s the one to beat from the draw. If he doesn’t win, he won’t be far away.”
Race 5: Commander Lincoln
“I won’t be holding my breath. He tries hard enough but he lacks a bit of high speed.”
Race 8: Onyx Shard
“It’s two and a half months since she last raced, and she didn’t grow as much as I thought she would, but I’m expecting her to go a good race. Her last two trials have been good and she’s pulled up well.”
Race 8: Obadiah Dragon
“He’ll need a good trip from five but he’s not out of it. He went a good race last time at Cambridge and would be as equal a chance as Onxy Shard.”
Race 8: Beaudiene Rocknroll
“It’s heart-in-the-mouth stuff with him until they let them go but he should step away this time. Zac (Butcher) said the gate went particularly slowly before that race and that’s why he got impatient. I thought he did well to recover for third. If he made the front, where he goes best, he’d be hard to beat.”
Race 9: Frisco Bay
“He’s a tidy horse and I’m expecting a big run. We’ve sorted the problem he had with his breathing last season and he’s right in the zone now after a second and a win at the workouts.”
Mark Dux’s comments
Saturday night at Albion Park
Race 5: Argyle
11.02pm NZ time
“It wouldn’t have mattered where he drew this week, he’s in the money, barring bad luck. He’s going terrific and he gets in so well at the ratings.”