The result of the 2019 edition of the Group 1 $3m Furphy TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) gives trainer Joe Pride some heart that Private Eye can take out Saturday’s feature sprint at Royal Randwick.
It might seem a strange line to draw but Pride said there are similarities between 2019 champ Santa Ana Lane’s first-up run in the Newmarket Handicap and Private Eye’s performance in the same race when resuming three weeks ago.
Both editions were won by three-year-old fillies with light weights but four years ago the return to weight-for-age swung things back in the older sprinter’s favour.
Private Eye carried 58kg when fourth in the Newmarket behind In Secret (51.5kg) and the weight-for-age scale is in Pride’s favour by 2.5kg.
“It’s not that long ago you go back to Santa Ana Lane who was beaten by Sunlight in very similar circumstances,’’ Pride said.
“He had 58.5kg and she had 50.5kg and he came out a month later and won the TJ by three lengths.
“I was disappointed on the day because I went there with an expectation, you never go to the races thinking you’re going to win but I was pretty confident he was going to run super.
“When I watched the race it was a bit deflating but when you’ve got time to sit back and watch it, once the dust settles, it was a big task against him.
“He ended up in an awkward spot with a lot of work to do and he couldn’t quite get there. I thought he was brave and he goes into Saturday basically primed up.”
The last time Private Eye, $8.50 with TAB on Thursday, tackled the Randwick 1200m he had the $15m TAB Everest snatched from him in the last few strides by Giga Kick.
That horse is among the five-year-old’s adversaries in a crack edition of the TJ and Pride likes the set-up for his horse from another low draw.
“It should work out well. I’m assuming it’s a fast race, he drew inside in the Everest and it worked well for him,’’ he said.
“You look at it and go ‘maybe he gets cluttered up’ but I’d rather have his draw than In Secret, Lost And Running, I Wish I Win who have tough draws to overcome.
“It’s a hot field. I’m not underestimating Nature Strip, I’m sure he will be very hard to beat.
“This is the most important run of his prep, the one we really want to win. The Randwick 1200m looks it’s ideal for him.”
Private Eye will likely head to the Group 1 $1.5m Schweppes All Aged Stakes (1400m) on April 15.
Galaxy winner Mariamia has ‘nothing to lose’, according to Pride, by having a shot at the TJ Smith.
The mare has won four races from nine starts for the Warwick Farm trainer and he saw no reason not to send her around at weight-for-age after her strong Galaxy win three weeks ago.
“I was happy to give her a shot at it but it’s a big ask on the back of a Galaxy win under handicap conditions,’’ he said.
“She looks fantastic in herself so she’s coping with everything we’re asking her to do. It’s a touch ambitious but she’s going really well.”
Under normal circumstances Pride would have Eduardo lining up against his old sparring partner Nature Strip, he’s been placed in the past two editions, but he’s sitting out this year with a Brisbane campaign in mind.
The nine-year-old beat one home in the Galaxy after a narrow first-up defeat in the Challenge Stakes.
“He’s having a freshen up before Brisbane. He seems to be going very well fresh in his old age so we’ll treat him that way,’’ Pride said.
– Racing NSW