All Too Hard, the younger half brother of superstar Black Caviar, launched an eye-catching acceleration off the turn at Caulfield Feb. 23 and rolled to a 3 1/4-length victory in the $500,000 Cathay Pacific Futurity Stakes (Aus-I).
The race was one of three group I events on the card, which included an emotional victory by Miracles of Life in the $1 million Blue Diamond Stakes, Victoria’s richest race for 2-year-olds.
A recent purchased by Vinery Stud, All Too Hard cemented his status as the overwhelming early favorite for the Australian Guineas (Aus-I) at Flemington next week after he left accomplished elders Glass Harmonium, last year's Futurity winner King Mufhasa, and 2012 Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) victor Green Moon in his wake.
The 3-year-old Casino Prince colt finished the 1,400-meter (about seven furlongs) turf race in 1:23.03 as the 19-10 favorite. He improved his Victorian record to five wins from six starts with a close second in the W. S. Cox Plate (Aus-I) last October at Moonee Valley the only stain on that record. He came into the Futurity off a win in the C. F. Orr Stakes (Aus-I) Feb. 9 at Caulfield.
"The Guineas looks the obvious option and he'll be 99% of running, but obviously we're going to wait and see how he licks the bin and how he is in the next 48 hours," said Wayne Hawkes, who trains the colt with his father, John, and brother, Michael.
After rushing from the gate to lead early under Dwayne Dunn, All Too Hard was settled in fifth, one off the fence, before advancing into contention around the home turn. He uncoiled a fierce rally when called upon and secured the clear win with a final burst of speed a furlong out.
"I wanted to open him up a little bit because he's got to come back next week, if that is the plan, so he has a big mission ahead of him," Dunn said. "We wanted to see what's there, and we don't want to be left with any stone unturned come the final."
Glass Harmonium outfinished King Mufhasa by a head for second. Green Moon, who was making his first start since winning last year's Melbourne Cup, checked in a half-length back in fourth in the 10-horse field.
In the Blue Diamond, Miracles of Life overtook front-runner Metastasio to seize the lead at the 200-meter mark while keeping her undefeated record intact.
Apprentice jockey Lauren Stojakovic guided the diminutive filly to a 1 1/2-length win over Fast ‘N’ Rocking in the lucrative race for juveniles.
The Not a Single Doubt filly, affectionately known as "Barbie," was timed in 1:09.76 for the 1,200-meter (about six furlongs) turf test. She entered off a 4 1/4-length triumph in the Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Preview Jan. 26 in her stakes debut and easily won in the main event while making the huge class leap for trainer Daniel Clarken.
Stojakovic wiped away tears on the way back to the winner's enclosure, but was smiling broadly when talking to reporters about her win aboard the 3-1 favorite.
"In the gates I said to Barbie 'There's about a minute between us being good and great,' and after the line I told her she was just brilliant. I didn't realize how good it could feel to cross the line in a grade I," Stojakovic said.
Fast 'N' Rocking outfinished Godiva Rock by a short head for second in the 14-horse field.
In the day's other group I event, 16-to-1 outsider Mrs Onassis won the $400,000 Oakleigh Plate after undefeated pre-race favorite Barakey was scratched when he tried to go under the starting gate.
Western Australia-based Barakey, winner of 11 races from as many career starts, did not appear to be seriously hurt but was pulled from the race, and Mrs Onassis capitalized on the opportunity.
She dueled for command with Adebisi before shaking free in the stretch and scoring by a length from Facile Tiger.
By General Neydim, Mrs Onassis covered 1,100 meters (about 5 1/2 furlongs) in 1:03.16, landing her third stakes win—and first in a group race—for trainer Gerald Ryan.
Group I winner Ortensia checked in 11th in the 13-horse field.