The David Payne-trained Criterion (NZ) firmed into $13 in Golden Slipper betting on Saturday after strong win in the $300,000 Group 2 Spotless Todman Stakes at Rosehill.
Criterion edges clear, picture Sportpix.com.au
Criterion went into Saturday event as a $26 chance for the Slipper after winning the Listed Black Opal Stakes in Canberra, but with blinkers on, the son of Sebring took a large step towards Slipper glory.
Ridden by Craig Williams, Criterion didn’t jump the best from the barrier and settled in fourth last spot, one off the fence some six lengths off race leader Charlie Boy (Schofield).
Rounding the turn Criterion moved up to the outside of Fast ‘n’ Rocking (Arnold) to be within striking distance of the leaders on straightening.
Still four lengths off the lead, Williams went for Criterion while Arnold went for Fast ‘n’ Rocking and the two gallopers pulled in the leaders to hit the front at the 125m before pulling away, with Criterion getting the upper hand of the final 50m.
On the line the margin between the two was only head but there was a further two and a half to Havana (Nolen) in third. The overall time was 1.10.7 with the last 600m run in 34.69.
“He is still a bit of a thinker and the blinkers have definitely done the trick,” Payne said.
“They went a bit slow which was a concern and he was still a bit tardy out of the barriers but I think the Slipper will be a much more high pressure race.
“We had a jockey jump off him but I don’t think he can get back on him now, but it is up to Craig and we will see what he wants to do.”
“Instrumental to today’s result was having the blinkers on him,” Williams said.
“The way he walks around the yard, the way he goes to the barrier stalls, the way he conducts himself on raceday, he is quite an unusual, very relaxed type of two-year-old.
“If they go very fast and come back I know he is going to be very strong late, that’s the most important part.
“He won’t be able to hold a position, unless he goes home and gets excited with the confidence from today.
“You never know with two-year-olds but so far he is a very good, solid two-year-old and with the current Golden Slipper line-up he would be a main contender.”
Hayes, without winning the race, was pleased with the performance of his colt who was second in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes over 1200m at Caulfield on February 23rd in his previous race.
“With his first go on his Sydney leg he sort of came into the straight and had a bit of stargaze, but he was strong right to the line,” he said.
“He has lovely improvement left in him. I know it will be all fillies, fillies , fillies but what will happen in the big race there are five horses racing the same way as the favourite so there will be a lot more pressure and it might suit a big, strong horse coming home.
“Without winning I could not be happier,” he said.
The market for the Golden Slipper, at Rosehill on April 6th, changed after the two races with Overreach firming from $3.80 into $2.10 while Villa Verde was $6.50 out to $11,
Criterion has firmed from $26 to $13 and will look to become only the second horse to win the Black Opal Stakes/Golden Slipper double. Catbird in 1999 was the only other horse to achieve this.
Fast ‘N’ Rocking firmed from $51 to $15. TAB Sportsbet reported a bet was received on Saturday morning for the Golden Slipper on Fast ‘N” Rocking of $1500 @ $51 for a potential collect of $76,500. Charlie Boy has drifted from $13 to $17 whilst Havana has firmed from $101 to $51.
Criterion, a colt by Sebring out of the Bite The Bullet mare Mica’s Pride was winning for the third time from four starts for owner Owen Glenn. He was third in his other race with earnings of $395,250 plus a guaranteed place in the field for the Slipper.
Photofinish, by ATC