A huge purse and a full, competitive field of 2-year-olds have Australian fans anxiously awaiting the March 24 renewal of the Longines Golden Slipper (G1) at Rosehill Gardens.
The race is worth AUS$3.5 million, or just less than US$2.7 million, and points the way for stars of the future. It also keys one of Australia's best days of racing, with five group 1 events on the card.
Two of the favorites for the Golden Slipper drew well, with Sunlight in gate 5 and Written By just to her inside in the No. 4 spot.
Sunlight was an impressive winner in the Canadian Club Magic Night Stakes (G3) March 17 at Rosehill Gardens, where she led the whole 1,200 meters (about six furlongs) and won by 1 1/4 lengths with Luke Currie up for trainer Tony McEvoy. That victory moved the Zoustar filly's record to five wins from six starts, with the five victories coming in succession. She also won the Feb. 24 TAB Silver Slipper Stakes (G2).
Written By, a Written Tycoon colt, comes to the race off a gutsy, narrow victory over Sandbar in the Café Culture + Insitu Pago Pago Stakes (G3). He is undefeated in four starts.
Trainer Gai Waterhouse will seek a record seventh Golden Slipper with Santos, who drew gate 7. Santos is two-for-two in the southern hemisphere autumn season.
Performer and Estijaab both drew wide and saw their early odds drift accordingly.
The weather forecast for the Sydney area was in flux in the days leading to the Golden Slipper, and there could be more rain on race day.
Also on the card, the Agency George Ryder Stakes (G1) at 1,500 meters (about 7 1/2 furlongs) has Winx seeking her 24th straight win and 17th overall group 1 victory against five apparently overmatched rivals. The newcomer is Godolphin's 3-year-old colt Kementari, who leads the "Winx out" pre-race wagering.
The Ranvet Stakes (G1), a 2,000-meter contest (1 1/4 miles) for 3-year-olds and up, features Gailo Chop atop a field of nine. The 7-year-old gelded son of Deportivo trained by Darren Weir exits a second-place finish, a half length behind Harlem, in the Australian Cup (G1) March 10. Harlem and Ventura Storm, who finished third in the Australian Cup, return for the Ranvet. The field also includes Prized Icon and Classic Uniform, who came in second and third behind Winx in the TAB Chipping Norton Stakes (G1) at 1,600 meters March 3.
The Sky Racing Rosehill Guineas (G1) at 2,000 meters has a full field of 18 3-year-olds, plus emergencies. Ace High, a High Chaparral colt, is the highest rated after victories in the AAMI Victoria Derby (G1) Nov. 4 and the Oct. 7 Moet and Chandon Spring Champion Stakes (G1). But he hasn't won in three starts this season and finished well back of Kementari in his last two outings.
Sprinters wind up the group 1 fest in the PFD Food Services Galaxy at 1,100 meters. The field includes several who fell short of making the field for the AUS$10 million (US$7.7 million) TAB Everest Stakes (G1) last fall.