Derby-bound Levendi claims Tulloch Stakes

Victorian trainer Peter Gelagotis received some news when he woke up in Dubai, thanks to Australian Derby-bound colt Levendi’s impressive audition in the Tulloch Stakes at Rosehill.

Gelagotis, who saddles up Illustrious Lad in the Group One Al Quoz Sprint at the Dubai World Cup meeting early Sunday (AEDT), also has a domestic Group One to look forward to on his return from the Middle East.

Levendi’s late surge to the line saw the Pierro three-year-old shorten from $15 to $11 on the TAB market for next Saturday’s $2 million Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick.

Ridden smartly by Mark Zahra, Levendi scored by a short head after looming late as the $4 favourite.

Godolphin’s Astoria ($10) was second and New Zealand raider Weather With You ($21) was a half neck back in third after setting the tempo.

Crownbet

Levendi now tackles a seven-day back-up for the first time in what will be his eighth start of a preparation that also includes unplaced runs in the Group one Caulfield and Australian Guineas.

Zahra was confident Levendi could challenge Derby favourite Ace High, who was a $5 chance on Saturday.

“He switched off in the run and he relaxes really well. If he wasn’t going to get the trip I think he would have run second but he toughed it out really well,” Zahra said.

“He didn’t make it easy for me. Halfway up the straight I thought he was complacent and happy running second but I got stuck into him and the Gelagotis boys had him nice and fit. He was strong over the line.”

Astoria’s Derby odds trimmed from $26 to $15 while Weather With You came in from $51 to $26 after improving in his first Sydney outing at a Warwick Farm midweek meeting.

“It was a good run and a one week back up to the Derby will do him good,” said jockey Jason Collett.