February 16, 2021 3:43 pm.
Richard Litt is weighing up his options for Black Duke, including whether to pit him against a crack field of three-year-olds in the Hobartville Stakes at Rosehill.
Black Duke is among 18 entries for the time-honoured $400,000 Group Two feature over 1400 metres on Saturday.
Named after one of Australia’s oldest and most historic thoroughbred stud farms, the Hobartville Stakes has long been regarded as a launch pad for three-year-olds heading towards the Sydney autumn classics.
This year’s nominations include stakes winners Ole Kirk, Peltzer, King’s Legacy, North Pacific and Group One-winning New Zealander Aegon.
Litt said Black Duke, who ran fourth in the Group Three Vo Rogue Plate over 1400m at Eagle Farm on January 2, had done well since a let-up and was ready to go again following a recent second to I am Superman in a Rosehill trial.
“He ran a nice trial last week and Nash (Rawiller) was very pleased but he suggested the 1400 metres might be a little sharp for him fresh so we may opt for the 1250 metres at Canterbury,” Litt said.
“But the horse is going really well and while it’s a very strong race, we think he is up to that company.
“I’ll accept for both races and we’ll see where we end up.”
While Nash Rawiller rode Black Duke in Queensland and in his recent trial, it will be gun apprentice Tom Sherry who takes the reins on Saturday.
Sherry has ridden the son of 2013 Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente in five of the horse’s eight career starts, which include his lone win at Canterbury in August.
Litt said Black Duke had a much better temperament since being gelded in the spring and the stoutly-bred galloper would only get better with time.
“At the moment he’s very sharp but he’s got his share of ability and he’s very sound,” Litt said.
“We’ve got him nominated for the Australian Derby so we’ll see how things develop.”
Litt also plans to back up Mr Marathon Man in the Listed Parramatta Cup (1900m) on the same program.
The son of So You Think finished at the tail of the field over 1600 metres at Randwick last Saturday but the Warwick Farm trainer said the seven-year-old would be much better suited back to 1900 metres.
“He was a bit close last start when off a four-week break and very dour at the finish, but he’s back to 1900 metres on Saturday and gets in with no weight,” Litt said.
“Hopefully we can draw a decent barrier and he can relax midfield.
“It’s a strong Parramatta Cup but the horse has worked really weIl at home this week so we’ll have a go and see what happens.”