Trainer Lee Freedman has underlined the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) in June as the major winter target for Malaguerra, but has conceded the horse will have to show some ability in Saturday’s 2016 BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben to warrant a berth.
Malaguerra has been a strong and consistent performer for Freedman and brother Anthony since arriving in their care prior to his 2015 campaign, and has posted a commendable nine wins and two minors through seventeen career starts.
Returning this time with a blistering performance for success in the Listed Bob Hoysted Handicap (1000m) on March 5th, the Magnus gelding repeated the dose in the Group 3 Kingdom Stakes (1200m) on March 26th but failed to match the late pace of English when sixth of only eight horses in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) last time out on April 16th.
Freedman told Racing Ahead the team is pleased with Malaguerra’s condition leading into the BTC Cup, but concedes he really needs to win the race to figure as a serious Stradbroke Handicap prospect.
“There are different types of Group 1 sprinters – there’s handicap sprinters, and there’s the horses that make the grade at weight-for-age,” Freedman said.
“He hasn’t proven that yet.
“We’ll approach Saturday with the view he’s got to run very well in that to keep heading towards the Stradbroke, because horses in form win those races, and horses that aren’t, don’t.”
Malaguerra began his racing career under the guidance of Mornington-based Wez Hunter, but was unable to make much of a competitive impact through four starts.
Debuting for the Freedmans for success in the Sportsbet Cash Card BM64 (1100m) in February 2015, Malaguerra continued to impress through three subsequent starts before ending his autumn campaign fourth in the talent-rich Tom Elliot Drive Trophy (1400m).
Taking out his first two starts upon resuming in spring, the gelding out of Tennessee Morn placed second to Weinholt in the Winter & Taylor Isuzu BM84 (1200m) in October before ending his season with consecutive and comfortable wins.
Ladbrokes.com.au is currently offering the best BTC Cup odds, for which Malaguerra can be taken at a generous quote of $6 for success.