Underwood Stakes Preview

FRESH from casting their eyes over the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, 12Follow’s Jake Henson and Matt Taylor preview Saturday’s second Caulfield Group 1, the Underwood Stakes.

Matt Taylor: Our second Group 1 this Saturday at Caulfield is the Underwood Stakes over 1800m under Weight For Age conditions. We’ve seen a fair bit of these runners already this Spring, but Lucia Valentina heads south second up and appears the ‘different form’ in the race. We’ll get to the second favourite soon but before we do, we should look at the reasonably short-priced favourite Black Heart Bart. What do you think is behind the 6/4 price here, Jake?

Jake Henson: He’s a super consistent horse who has decent tactical speed gets into the sweet spot in run most times. He’s also trained by the great DK Weir, he and Palentino did put a gap in them last start at Flemington. The issue this time is obviously 1800m and the fact that some of these stayers are getting fitter and out to more suitable distances. Personally, I’ve marked him $3 and see no value in the early price. Weiry has made it VERY clear that it’s the owners not him pushing for this Cox Plate campaign. I think there is something in that.

MT: That’s the key point for me. We’re racing at Group 1 level and the trainer doesn’t fully believe in the program he is undertaking with one of his star performers. There’s no doubting Bart’s quality and unlike last start, he is clearly the best hope from the stable. But at $2.40 I’m forced to look elsewhere.

JH: Who takes your fancy? Lucia Valentina is the obvious one, her win in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth over 2000m in April was very stylish. She did enough fresh and 1800m suits her better?

MT: Lucia certainly ticks a lot of boxes for me in this race. Many saw her as the clear-cut second pick behind Winx first up and assessed her fourth-placing as disappointing. But she did only finish a length behind Hartnell – that form looks pretty good now! I also like how Kris Lees has managed her preparation, giving her a decent break after the first up run but also sending her to the trials – last preparation that formula delivered in a Group 1 win. She’s performed well at Caulfield before, has won the Melbourne way of going and will enjoy the genuine tempo set by The Cleaner. I really like her. Where does she sit in your thinking for this?

JH: She’s in it up to her ears! Marked her $3.60 and betting at the early price for sure. Speaking of The Cleaner, this mightn’t be a popular opinion but I for one think he might be gone! He was assisted by the track at The Valley and still ran at best ‘fairly’. He’s a warrior who’s had his fair share of battles and I’m confident he’ll find most of these too good this Saturday.

MT: You’re not alone there on The Cleaner. I’m finding him a complete nuisance! What about Awesome Rock Jake? The $7 seems a bit trim to me coming out of that ordinary Moonee Valley race but there’s no doubt he is a tough competitor.

JH: He’s a good honest horse who’s normally underrated in the market, but you are right, this time he is too short. I’ve given He Or She the same chance of winning the race and he’s out at $12 in the market. So clearly more value with He Or She and looks a nice 1 x 3 option.

MT: Certainly agree there, he looks the value in the race and is well worth considering an each way ticket on. I’m struggling to see how Jacquinot Bay can turn the tables on these, while the likes of Prince Of Penzance, Tarzino and Tavago all look like they’re still building fitness for down the track. This really is all about Lucia Valentina for me.

JH: Jacquinot Bay probably out to a distance range where he is less effective although he has been unlucky at his last few. Entitled to otherwise agree and say Lucia to win at the price, small 1 x3 on He Or She!