New Zealand colt Saracino has made an immediate impact in Melbourne, upstaging his Australian rivals in the Group Two Danehill Stakes at Flemington.
The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained three-year-old defeated older horses in a Group Two race in New Zealand in his season return last month before heading to Melbourne for the spring.
Saracino ($6) raced right on the speed in Saturday’s straight 1200m sprint against his own age and kept finding under jockey Damien Oliver to defeat Godolphin-owned colt Archives ($6.50) by a long neck.
Samara Dancer, the only filly in the race, was another three-quarters of a length away third.
“I thought it was a very brave effort. He was in front a long way out,” Baker said.
“He kept kicking all the way up the straight which is a good effort at Flemington.
“You’d like to think he could make the Caulfield Guineas but who knows, he might not be a miler. He might be just a straight sprinter.
“There’s plenty of options open for him if he’s not going to get the mile.”
Saracino was Group-placed twice as a two-year-old in New Zealand and Baker said he had always shown ability.
The Caulfield Guineas Prelude over 1400m looms as a campaign-defining race for Saracino, with his performance there likely to determine whether he presses on to the Guineas over 1600m or sticks to shorter distances.
“I suppose the jury is out a little bit,” Oliver said, in regards to whether Saracino would be strong at the Guineas distance.
“We’ll get him to 1400 metres and see how he goes. He’s quite brilliant but with a bit more racing under his belt he might be OK.”