The Underwood Stakes is one of a couple of Group One races at Caulfield on Saturday and the presence of Black Heart Bart as its favourite means that there is value elsewhere.
Black Heart Bart has won two Group One races since he made the move from Vaughn Sigley’s yard in Western Australia to Darren Weir’s stable in Victoria. Black Heart Bart has won 13 of his 33 starts, including two from two at Caulfield, but the six-year-old son of Blackfriars has not triumphed over more than 1,420 metres despite having 10 cracks at breaking his duck in races over 1500m and upwards.
The connections of Black Heart Bart are committed to their bay gelding competing in next month’s WS Cox Plate, which is the unofficial weight-for-age championship of Australasia, even though the Moonee Valley feature race is over 2,040m. Blackfriars has sired some middle-distance winners of Group races but none of them has won beyond 1,800m outside Western Australia, while Black Heart Bart’s dam, Sister Theresa, does not have a particularly good record as a broodmare.
Bet365 is quoting Black Heart Bart at favourite odds of +200 to win the Underwood Stakes, which is a Group One race over 1,800m. Betting around Black Heart Bart, which looks best suited to 1,400m, makes a great deal of sense, especially since the second favourite won Australia’s second most valuable race last season. Lucia Valentina is available at odds of +300 with Bet365 to win the Underwood Stakes and there is no doubt that she represents a decent wager.
Lucia Valentina won more than $2,500,000 for her connections when she raced away with the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Randwick in April. Lucia Valentina was last with both 800m and 400m remaining but she won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes by two and a quarter lengths, flashing past and pulling away from The United States at the business end of affairs.
Following a soft trial at Gosford, Lucia Valentina made her reappearance in the Warwick Stakes over an inadequate trip of 1,400m last month, finishing four and a half lengths adrift of Winx in a race for which the form is working out brilliantly thanks to the subsequent efforts of Winx and Hartnell. Lucia Valentina has had a soft trial in the lead up to the Underwood Stakes but she has only won one of her preparatory contests so one is not concerned that was fifth of six behind Harry Hotspur at Wyong two weeks ago.
Lucia Valentina and Black Heart Bart are the joint highest rated runners in the Underwood Stakes and the former has a much better record beyond 1,400m than the latter. There is little doubt that Lucia Valentina prefers tracks with a bit of cut – she is 1-0-2 in her 16 races on good ground, 4-1-2 in her 10 races on soft ground and unbeaten in her two races on heavy ground – and the weather forecast for Caulfield is such that one expects the Underwood Stakes to take place on a surface that is on the soft side of good or worse.
The bottom line is that Lucia Valentina has every other Underwood Stakes competitor covered over 1,800m and Bet365 does not even have the Kris Lee-trained Group One winner as its favourite. Back Lucia Valentina before Saturday’s big race and watch her jump from the barriers at shorter odds.
Lucia Valentina to Win the Underwood Stakes
Saturday 24th September, 06:05 GMT