HOT on the heels of claiming a 12th Melbourne Cup, Bart Cummings is out to test the credentials of short-priced favourite Samantha Miss in today’s VRC Oaks when he saddles Allez Wonder and Think Money.
Cummings said yesterday he had the "utmost respect" for the Kris Lees-trained Samantha Miss, which is out to win a third group 1, but warned that Allez Wonder was "a real nice filly" that would be suited by the 2500 metres.
"Samantha Miss is backing up after the Cox Plate but I wouldn’t have thought that run would have hurt her," Cummings said. "She had no weight on her back in it and seemed to get through the race well. She is a deserved favourite for the oaks but I’d be taking the quinella with Allez Wonder. She’ll run a big race."
Allez Wonder, to be ridden by Steven Arnold, is yet to figure in the placings from six starts and goes into the VRC Oaks after a solid sixth in the Wakeful Stakes, won by Rocha last Saturday.
"She is a Redoute’s Choice filly that cost us a bit of money," said Cummings, while noting Melbourne Cup winner Viewed’s owner Dato Tan Chin Nam has a share in Allez Wonder and owns Think Money outright.
"Don’t worry about Allez Wonder being a maiden," Cummings warned. "She’s up to her right trip now."
Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Blake Shinn will be aboard Think Money, which is also a maiden after nine starts but has run five placings.
"Think Money was never in the hunt in the Wakeful," said Cummings, who produced Marjorie for a third in the VRC Oaks last year. "They went slow up front so she was never going to be able to figure when that happened. She was too far back, and the speed of the race made it impossible for her."
Sydney jockey Hugh Bowman makes the trip to Flemington to reunite with Samantha Miss after Glen Boss warmed the saddle at a lightweight in the Cox Plate. "Everything she has done this week in her trackwork, and her demeanour around the stables, tells me she is over the Cox Plate run," Lees said about Samantha Miss yesterday. "Of course, she still has to run out the trip but on her pedigree, and the way she races, I’m confident that she will go out for a spell on a winning note."
Wyong trainer Kim Waugh is happy with Wakeful Stakes fourth placegetter Kimillsy, which has drawn ideally in gate two in the oaks with Steven King to ride. "We rode her patiently in the Wakeful and she made up good late ground, which was very encouraging given the tempo of the race didn’t suit those running on," Waugh said yesterday. "She should get a nice run in transit from gate two and she has a turn of foot."
Jockey Danny Nikolic sticks with Wakeful winner Rocha and isn’t concerned about a wide draw. "She’ll push forward just like the other day and she is a tough filly," he said. "She’ll be hard to beat over the trip although Samantha Miss is very good." Punters are keen on Samantha Miss to bounce back to winning form after running third to Maldivian in the Cox Plate. Sportingbet Australia chief executive Michael Sullivan reported a bet of $200,000 at $1.95 on her to win the oaks. "We expect punters to treat Samantha Miss as the good thing of the carnival," he said.
Caulfield Cup winner All The Good, Victoria Derby victor Rebel Raider and Viewed’s Melbourne Cup triumph have all been good for bookmakers, with the trio all starting at big odds.
"We’ll be standing [Samantha Miss] for plenty," Sullivan said, while hoping the run of upsets continues. "We’re still betting $1.95, and we’re happy to let the punters on. There’s no doubt that she’s extra smart but the 2500m at Flemington in November has found plenty of good fillies out before."