Mike Smith is not the only veteran jockey poised to defy the odds and show that age is just a number this weekend. While the 52-year-old Smith is looking to achieve his first Triple Crown atop Justify in this Saturday's Belmont Stakes, the evening before sees legendary 57-year-old Queensland jockey Jeff Lloyd attempting to bring his career to a climax with a pair of wins on his last ever Stradbroke Handicap Day, the crown jewel of the Brisbane Winter Carnival.
The UK-born Lloyd, who moved to Australia over a decade ago after racing in South Africa, Hong Kong and Singapore as well as his native England, announced in April that he will call time on his illustrious career at some point in 2018. This will be the last chance to win the G1 Stradbroke Handicap for Lloyd, whose popularity in his adopted Australia and internationally rivals Smith's following.
As well as the Handicap, Queensland's richest race with a purse of $1.5 million AUD ($1.2 million), Lloyd also takes on the G1 Queensland Derby, the premier staying race for 3-year-olds.
The G1 JJ Atkins is the other top-class feature on the race card at Doomben racecourse this Saturday, June 9th, but broadcast in North America on Friday night, June 8th. The card also includes the G2 Queensland Guineas, G2 Brisbane Cup and the G2 Dane Ripper Quality. There is certain to be huge wagering interest with an average field size of 14 across the 8-race card and the likelihood of big Exacta payouts. The first post is 11:45 a.m. local time. (9:15 p.m. EDT or 6:15 p.m. PDT on June 8th).
G1 Stradbroke Handicap
Perast, winner of the G3 Fred Best Classic, will team-up with Lloyd as the 6/1 chance for the Stradbroke, which runs at 2:15 p.m. local time Saturday, June 9th (12:15 p.m. EDT or 9:15 p.m. on Friday, June 8th).
Trainer Paul Perry is confident that the pair are on target to match the race's standards. “[Perast] has won twice over the Stradbroke trip and, really, he has just been too good for them,” he says. “He gets into the race with a light weight, which is ideal when you are taking on the older horses.”
Even without a win on Perast, Lloyd will still wrap up the season on a high note. Like Smith, Lloyd boasts a fine haul of honors. As well as 14 jockeys' premierships, he rewrote the record books last year for riding the most Queensland winners (156) in a single season.
Whether he extends that in the Handicap on Perast will depend on their success against Champagne Cuddles and Impending. Corey Brown, the Melbourne Cup winning jockey last year on Rekindling and in 2009 on Shocking, will offer strong competition on favorite Champagne Cuddles (at 16/5 odds). The 3-year-old filly is in the hunt for her first G1 victory. She had a breakout performance in the 2017 Sydney Spring Carnival, posting five placings from five starts including two at G1 level.
The James Cummings-trained Impending, who like Lloyd is bidding farewell to the turf this year, is second favorite (5/1). Impending's final obligation is giving Godolphin Australia back-to-back wins in the Stradbroke Handicap.
Damian Browne will be back on top of Impending in the Stradbroke after piloting the colt to victory in the G1 Kingsford Smith Cup. Browne is the leading jockey in the Winter Carnival, having partnered 14 winners.
G1 Queensland Derby
Lloyd will also take on a mix of fellow veteran jockeys and younger talent in the Queensland Derby, which runs at 3:35 p.m. Brisbane time on Saturday, June 9th (1:35 a.m. EDT or 10:15 p.m. on Friday, June 8th). He is booked to ride three-year-old colt Banner Season, who heads into the Derby as an automatic entry on the back of a half-head win to Surprise Bullet at Ipswich.
Against outsider odds (19/1), Lloyd and Banner Season are looking to surprise John O'Shea's charge Live And Free, the 18/5 favorite ridden by New Zealand jockey James McDonald. At age 26 and recently back from suspension, McDonald will be chasing Lloyd down the Doomben straight.
Lucky For All has been installed as 4/1 second-favorite with Damian Lane in the saddle, and Kerrin McEvoy's mount Youngstar (13/2) is attempting to win the Oaks/Derby double for trainer Chris Waller.
North American punters can tune into TVG to watch all the Stradbroke Handicap Day races unfold live and get the latest trackside analysis and predictions from Sky Racing World's Jason Witham.
Race fans can also watch live and wager on all standard USA bet types on the races from Randwick (AUS-A), Flemington (AUS-B) and Doomben (AUS-C) on leading ADW platforms such as:
TVG, TwinSpires, Xpressbet, NYRABets, WatchandWager, HPIbet, AmWager, and BetAmerica. Handicappers can also visit skyracingworld.com for free expert picks and past performances.
About David Haslett
A former Managing Director of Sportech Racing, David was appointed President and CEO of Sky Racing World in April 2014. The Louisville, Kentucky-based company, a subsidiary of Australian wagering firm Tabcorp, provides Australian, New Zealand, South African and South Korean racing content for simulcast horse-race wagering to multiple North America-facing ADW brands and race-tracks.
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