The two-year-olds have a final chance to qualify for a Golden Slipper start this weekend, although history suggests they face an uphill battle to win the $5 million juvenile centrepiece.
Only three horses have captured the Pago Pago Stakes – Golden Slipper double in 45 years – Inspired (1984), Rory’s Jester (1985) and most recently Stratum in 2005.
The Magic Night Stakes (1200m) has been around three years longer and fares better, its honour roll boasting six subsequent Slipper winners, but significantly Bint Marscay (1993) and Kiamichi (2019) are the only fillies to have successfully navigated the seven-day back-up in the past 30 years.
Sunday’s Black Opal Stakes (1200m) at Canberra will round out the lead-ups and while it has produced some high-class winners Catbird in 1999 remains the only horse to capture both races, doing so at a time when they were held almost three weeks apart.
There is little doubt a six or seven-day turnaround into a high-pressure Group 1 race is a tough ask for the babies, but 13 colts and geldings remain in the mix for Saturday’s Pago Pago Stakes (1200m) and 16 fillies have been paid up for the Magic Night.
The Black Opal Stakes field will be declared on Thursday, while the VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on Saturday rarely produces a Slipper runner.
Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, who have third favourite Red Resistance and consistent filly Platinum Jubilee safely in next week’s Golden Slipper field, could increase their arsenal with three two-year-old runners across NSW and the ACT this weekend, all holding nominations for the major.
Bases Loaded and possibly Introducing will contest the Pago Pago Stakes with both lightly raced youngsters having shown potential.
Bases Loaded backed up a debut win with a gallant third to Corniche in the Skyline Stakes (1200m), while Introducing got the job done at his only start at Warwick Farm last month.
“He (Bases Loaded) ran an excellent third here in the Skyline Stakes and looks to have improved nicely off that,” Bott said.
“Introducing, he was an impressive midweek winner and he’s ready to take that next step into a grade like this. You could see him potentially there (in the Pago Pago) or in the Black Opal.”
The training duo also have Tu Qui Santuzza, a daughter of Waterhouse’s 2012 Slipper winner Pierro, set to line up at Rosehill or Canberra after she led throughout to score on debut at Canterbury.
“Tu Qui Santuzza was a winner at Canterbury Friday week ago. She’s improved out of it nicely and deserves her chance at stakes company,” Bott said.
The Golden Slipper field and barrier draw will be finalised on Tuesday but one horse who won’t be there is Skyline Stakes winner Corniche.
Godolphin has advised Racing NSW stewards that Corniche will be spelled and is out of the autumn carnival.
– RAS NewsWire