By Michael Guerin
A rare set of results have put the pressure on talented three-year-old Bad To The Bone at Alexandra Park tonight.
And that could force driver Zachary Butcher’s hand from his second line draw in the $22,000 Sires’ Stakes heat.
Bad To The Bone was one of the better juveniles in the country last season and trainer Barry Purdon, who looks set for a huge night tonight, wants him in the Sires’ Stakes Final at Addington on November 12.
But Bad To The Bone’s problems are two-fold. Firstly he has drawn the second line in a sharp field tonight and his second issue is the results of the Sires’ Stakes heats so far.
There have been three heats each with three different placegetters, which means nine horses are already in the final. That means Bad To The Bone is one of 10-15 horses still competing for the remaining spots.
That is rare because often Sires’s Stakes heats are dominated by the same horses and the double ups means fourth or even fifth has been good enough to guarantee you a spot in the rich final in the past.
That could be the case at both Addington and Alexandra Park tonight and therefore create some flexibility to get Bad To The Bone into the race but Purdon would rather take the guess work out of play.
“Having different horses all getting points so far hasn’t helped us so I’d love him to run top three this week to seal his spot,” says Purdon.
“He is good enough and well enough but the draw makes it tricky.”
Bad To The Bone has drawn one on the second line in a race either favourite Line Up, or his stablemate Copy That, would be expected to lead.
So if Butcher chooses to stick to the markers he gets the luxury of the short way home but will need a strong tempo and luck with gaps to run top three.
A less risky option could be sliding straight away from the inside, which he can do as the only horse drawn on the second line, to try and punch through behind favourite Line Up at the start and get handy in the running line.
From there he might even threaten the favourites but a lot will depend on whether both Line Up (likely early leader) and Copy That (drawn wide) settle in front of him, with that Ray Green-trained pair extremely hard to beat if they end up lead and trail.
Purdon is confident Mach Shard (race eight) is at his peak for tonight and on the right path for the New Zealand Cup.
“He has gone two good races behind Triple Eight lately and his standing start manners have been good,” says Purdon.
“I think he might be even better this week and he has to be hard to beat.”
Purdon is also expecting a more prominent run from Wainui Creek (race seven) after she was luckless on her debut for the stable last start.
“She was a real victim of circumstances but she had a better draw this week and the chance to be handier.”
Purdon realises Sunny Glennis (race one) faces a decent step up in grade tonight while Flying Finn (race two) faces a potentially tricky barrier draw in one of tonight’s mile races.
Major Jellis (race four) was impressive winning on debut but jumps up a long way in grade while Purdon favours Bettor Listen over Be My Rock of his two in race five but predominantly because of the draw.