Improvement expected second-up from Pericles

James Cummings and the Godolphin team has elected to keep Pericles to a shorter trip with the prospect of securing an All-Star Mile berth. 

Pericles had the option of stepping up to 1800m to run in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday but instead will chase Group 1 honours in the Futurity Stakes (1400m). It is the same track and distance the Street Boss (USA) gelding finished sixth behind Mr Brightside (NZ) over in the C F Orr Stakes first-up on February 10. 

Pericles was an all-the-way winner of the Tramway in spring; picture

As an autumn three-year-old, Pericles was comfortably held over 1400m first-up in the Autumn Stakes at Sandown before trouncing his opposition in the Autumn Classic (1800m) second-up. 

Last preparation, Cummings kept Pericles to shorter trips where he was successful twice at 1400m in his first two runs of the campaign before running third in the Silver Eagle (1300m) and then second in the Golden Eagle (1500m). 

Cummings said the decision to chase a Group 1 win with Pericles, rather than step him up to 1800m, was based around the amount of improvement the gelding makes first-up to his second run. 

"It's going to be extremely rewarding to see him improve four lengths second-up in the Futurity," Cummings said. "But it's weight-for-age and he's going to need to bring his best and he's going to know he's in a horse race, but he should get a beautiful run from the draw." 

Pericles finished four lengths astern of Mr Brightside (NZ) first-up and initially Cummings and jockey Mark Zahra were disappointed with the effort. But on closer inspection they agreed the first half of the race did not pan out for Pericles. 

"Nevertheless, he had the back of the winner and Mr Brightside was enormous in making up the ground and lunging to win," Cummings said. 

"Pericles has a bit of improvement to come and, as we expected going into that race, weight-for-age is a different kettle of fish and a whole new challenge from racing in the Tramway or even in the four-year-olds-only Golden Eagle. 

"He needs to lift, and Saturday is an opportunity for him to show he can go to another level altogether second-up." 

Jamie Kah takes over in the saddle on Saturday. 

Cummings won the Futurity Stakes with Alizee in 2019 before going on to run third in the All-Star Mile behind Mystic Journey at Flemington. 

A 'win and you're in' invitation is up for grabs on Saturday, although if Mr Brightside (NZ) or Buffalo River (USA), already confirmed starters in the All-Star Mile, win the Futurity Stakes, an invite will go the way of the first runner home behind that pair.