A look back at the undercard
We look back at some of the races on TAB Turnbull Stakes Day.
Stretan Angel takes out Danehill Stakes
Phillip Stokes will head to the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Derby Day after Stretan Angel scored a fighting win in the Danehill Stakes (1100m).
Having her fourth career run and her first with Damian Lane in saddle, Stretan Angel dug deep to defeat I Am Unstoppable at the second run of her campaign.
Stretan Angel had improved significantly from her first-up outing when second to Shesallshenanigans over Saturday’s course and distance three weeks ago.
And Stokes is expecting further improvement from the filly ahead of the Coolmore Stud Stakes in a months’ time.
“We came here today knowing how much improvement she had to come, and she has done a super job,” Stokes said.
“Her coat has come on. We do it with all of our horses, she went up to our farm and spent the week up there and she is starting to bloom now.
“I still think she is only 85 per-cent, so it is exciting going into her next run.
“The Coolmore, that will be a bit harder, but she proved that she’s up to them today.”
Life Lessons digs deep
A much-needed break worked wonders for the Peter Moody and Katherine Coleman-trained Life Lessons who claimed the Group 2 Rose Of Kingston Stakes (1400m).
After campaigning successfully over summer, Moody and Coleman had autumn ambitions for the New Zealand-bred mare.
But after two runs in which Life Lessons failed to place, Moody and Coleman decided on a break before coming back for a tilt at the early spring mares’ races.
After finishing fourth at Caulfield first-up, Life Lessons went on to run second behind Amelia’s Jewel at Flemington three weeks ago ahead of Saturday’s success.
“She’d come on well after that run behind Amelia’s Jewel and she couldn’t have done much more that day,” Coleman said.
“She was good over summer. We tried to give her a short freshen-up and then have her up for the autumn, but it just didn’t work out.
“She just needed a good break, which she had. She’s come back stronger and she’s a mare in form and if we can keep her happy, we’ll be in for a very good prep.”
Coleman said the Group 1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on Derby Day was likely to be in the planning for the mare.
Star Patrol lands Gilgai Stakes
Star Patrol has continued his affinity with the Flemington straight track taking out the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes.
The win kept Star Patrol’s record intact on the straight course this campaign after the sprinter resumed with a win in the Bobbie Lewis Quality on September 16.
Star Patrol showed a lot of strength in defeating Triple Missile after his first-up win was in contrasting circumstances.
Trainer Clinton McDonald said there the sprinter was likely to return to Flemington for the Group 1 Champions Sprint (1200m) on the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
“He was so dominant down the straight but there’s probably better horses (in it),” McDonald said.
“But his asset is that he loves the straight and he can run time down here.
“He used himself well today. He went through his gears. Triple Missile who travelled up was probably traveling better but when Ben got busy on him, he really found the line strong.”
Impressive debut by $1.6 million purchase
Peter and Paul Snowden made the right decision to send Bodyguard to Melbourne for the first two-year-old race of the season, the Listed Maribyrnong Stakes (1000m).
The $1.6 million yearling purchase, a son of I Am Invincible, was down to run in the Breeders’ Plate at Randwick last week, but after drawing barrier 13 in a field on 14, the decision was made to scratch.
Bodyguard had trialled well prior to the Breeders’ Plate, so the decision was made to send the colt to Melbourne and contest Saturday’s dash up the straight.
“Peter and Paul thought he’s got the right mind and he’s done everything right,” part-owner James Harron said.
“He’s got a great constitution and if we were going to bring one here to tackle this race, he’d be the right one, so hats off to them.
“He’s a magnificent horse and his price tag gets that as a yearling.
“It is the attitude and the mind that he has got that is really impressive and he carried that through.”
Harron said the Magic Millions 2YO Classic at the Gold Coast next January would come under consideration for Bodyguard after Saturday’s victory.
Riff Rocket explosive in Super Impose
Trainer Chris Waller may have questioned the opposition Riff Rocket was up against, but the three-year-old stamped himself as a Victoria Derby contender with his explosive win in the Listed Super Impose Stakes (1800m).
Jockey James McDonald angled the gelding into the clear inside the final 300m before he raced away to an imposing 5-½ length win.
It prompted betting outlets to promote the Chris Waller-trained three-year-old to top line of markets with stablemate Militarize in the Derby.
“Naturally he’ll go through to the Derby,” Waller said.
“Whether he has another city run or goes to the Geelong Classic, I’m not too sure, but I’ll have a talk to Debbie (Kepitis) and the family.
“I’ll talk to Lara who manages the family’s horses. ‘Have a bit of fun’, is what they’ll tell me.”