In-form trainer Darren McAuliffe has left the door ajar for Proceedwithcaution to potentially tackle gun filly Tick Tick Bloom in Saturday week’s Listed Belmont Classic (2200m) at Belmont Park.
Proceedwithcaution fronted Tick Tick Bloom in last fortnight’s Belmont Guineas (1600m) and although beaten he was far from disgraced, finishing fifth after a tough run throughout.
McAuliffe gained minor compensation when the Trade Fair gelding responded with a dominant display in the Dayana Plate (2000m) on Saturday, running down Shalo to win by 2 ½ lengths.
Proceedwithcaution settled in third position for jockey Ben Kennedy and let down with a powerful sprinting burst over the final 200m.
McAuliife said a gear change and Kennedy’s ability to have the gelding travelling comfortably and settled throughout was critical.
“The blinkers coming off allowed him to relax and use his turn-of-foot to stamp his authority,” said McAuliffe on Tab Radio.
“You just have to keep the horse buried and tucked away and saved for the last minute because he has such a good turn-of-foot.
“I think the key is to lock him away and not let him see daylight until you get to around the 400 metre mark.”
“He may go to the Belmont Classic but I will leave that decision to my foreman, Jeff and his partner, Nikita, who own the horse.
“As far as rating points equating to dollar value and where he is at the moment it’s the right time to have a throw at the stumps.
“But it’s completely their decision.”
Proceedwithcaution was icing on the cake for McAuliffe after Military Ruler broke through at his second race start to continue the hot form of his sire Universal Ruler.
“He is a really, really nice horse with a lot of talent,” said McAuliffe.
“You are going to see a really nice horse come 12 months time.
“He has so much untapped ability and is going to be a progressive horse.”
Tick Tick Bloom captured the second-leg of a winter feature double with a nail-biting win in Saturday’s Belmont Oaks (2000m).
Trainer Adam Durrant said post-race he was unsure if the daughter of Viscount would tackle a feature trifecta in the Belmont Classic.
“I was disappointed she didn’t win by a big margin but they don’t pay on margins,” said Durrant.
“She may have come to the end of her preparation and I’m mindful of going to the well one too many times.”