Saracino passes first Aussie test easily

Saracino, who followed up his Foxbridge Plate triumph with an impressive Australian debut today.

Saracino, who followed up his Foxbridge Plate triumph (pictured) with an impressive Australian debut today.

Cambridge trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman have done it again in Melbourne.

Last spring the partners celebrated three Group One wins in Melbourne, two with Turn Me Loose and the other, the Caulfield Cup, with Mongolian Khan.

Baker has a long list of major triumphs in Australia and regularly makes the Australians sit up and take notice when he hits the carnivals. His Group One wins in Melbourne also include the VRC Derby with Lion Tamer and the Underwood Stakes with The Phantom

Now it’s Saracino who has earned the plaudits from the Aussies after making a successful Australian debut in the Gr. 2 Danehill Stakes at Flemington today and emerging as a serious prospect for the Gr. 1 Caulfield Guineas.

Fresh from clearing maiden ranks in the Gr. 2 Lisa Chittick Foxbridge Plate, Saracino was pitted against some highly rated Australian three-year-olds in the Danehill Stakes and he handed out the same treatment he gave his older and more proven rivals at Te Rapa last month.

Ridden by Damien Oliver, Saracen raced on the speed and gave his rivals a tough task chasing him down the Flemington straight.

He kept finding when asked for more by Oliver over the final stages and upstaged his opposition to win by a long neck from Archives.

Baker had been worried pre-race about Saracino being left in front, but he needed not have been concerned.

“We were going to ride him off the pace to get over the junction, but he was in front and kept kicking all the way up the straight which is a good effort at Flemington,” said Baker. “I thought it was a very brave effort.”

Oliver was suitably impressed by Saracino’s performance.

“He shows a lot of raw potential, the penny hasn’t dropped yet,” said Oliver. “It was a good effort first time down the (Flemington) straight.”

Next stop for Saracino will be the Caulfield Guineas Prelude over 1400 metres, the same distance over which he was Group One placed last season when third behind stablemate Luna Rossa in the Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes.

If Saracino continues in the same vein of form in the Guineas Prelude he will be asked to tackle 1600 metres for the first time in the Gr. 1 Caulfield Guineas.

“You’d like to think he could make the Caulfield Guineas but who knows, he might not be a miler,” said Baker. “He might be just a straight sprinter.

“There’s plenty of options open for him if he’s not going to get the mile.”

Oliver is prepared to sit on the fence over Saracino’s ability to master 1600.

“I suppose the jury is out a little bit,” he said. “We’ll get him to 1400 metres and see how he goes. He’s quite brilliant but with a bit more racing under his belt he might be okay.”