Trainer Trevor Andrews says his champion gelding, Luckygray, will have to be at his best to claim his second scalp in the $150,000 Group 3 Belmont Sprint (1400m) at Belmont on Saturday.
Luckygray lost no admirers in defeat two weeks ago when he ran on strongly to finish one length third behind, Battle Hero, in the Group 2 Roma Cup, his first start after a 12-month injury layoff.
It capped an outstanding return from the rising nine-year-old, who ran the final 600m in 33.98sec., the fastest of the race, after being held up for clear galloping room in the straight.
Luckygray can add another slice of history to his racing resume when he attempts to become just the third horse to win dual Belmont Sprint’s, joining National Boy (19878-79) and Grand Nirvana (2010-11).
The son of Bradbury’s Luck lumped top weight of 61kg and overcame the widest gate to defeat Reimbursement by 1 ½ lengths in the 2013 edition of the Belmont Sprint, when under the guidance of Gino Poletti.
Andrews, who prepared Modem to win the 2004 Roma Cup, said Luckygray will be primed for his second up attempt, but has tempered his expectations.
“I was super pleased with his effort in the Roma Cup and he has come through the run really well,” Andrews said on TABradio.
“He was probably a little unlucky when he got held up because he likes to be out wide and running home, but he hit the line really well.
“He ran the best sectionals in the race and pulled up well, but I’m pretty mindful second up over 1400m after such a long break.
“They can race super fresh and the edge can come off them, but he is the fittest that I can have him and he is so genuine.
“He will need to be at his best but he had a good gallop on Friday and Shaun (O’Donnell), who rode him, was pleased with his work.
“He will have another solid gallop on Tuesday and I’m really looking forward to Saturday having no issues with him.
“All that is needed is a bit of luck.”
The Belmont Sprint was first run in 1963 and won by Freestyle, trained by Buster O’Malley, who enjoyed success again in 1987 when Another Omen proved too strong for her rivals.
Another Omen, ridden by John Miller and Burgess Queen a decade earlier, in the hands of David Brosnan, are the only fillies to have won the Belmont Sprint.
WA Hall Of Famer, Fred Kersley, holds the training record with four winners: Dynamor (1993), Marasco (2008) and Grand Nirvana (2010-2011).
Paul Harvey and Dan Staeck are the standout riders with three wins each.
The former guided home Modem (2004), Marasco (2008) and Universal Ruler (2009).
Staeck combined with Grand Nirvana (2010, 2011) and Kerrific (2013.
Pat Carbery, John Wilson, Mark Sestich, Danny Miller and Linc Robertson have two wins a piece.
Barrier five is the most successful starting position with seven wins. Gates one, two and ten have had five wins.
RWWA: Julio Santarelli