by Dick Powell
12 sprinters will enter the starting gate for the third running of the A$13 million Everest (G1) going six furlongs at Royal Randwick in Sydney, Australia. Australia’s answer to Gulfstream Park’s Pegasus World Cup (G1) has been hugely successful as the race draws an overflow field each year with more horses interested in running than available stalls. Six of the dozen entrants are currently at high single-digit odds as the race is wide open.
Last year’s winner REDZEL is back and she is the co-second choice at 7/1. Unfortunately, he drew post one and Kerrin McEvoy is going to have to find a seam to run through around the one, right-handed turn. Last year, he drew post four and had a good trip but I don’t like him in this year’s Everest. Her only hope is for the field to bunch up coming out of the turn and leave the rail open but that is asking a lot. He returned off a freshening two starts back with a win in a group three stakes then was fifth here last out in a group two stakes from post one against only seven other runners.
The horse that looks primed for a big run is last year’s second-place finisher VEGA MAGIC. She draws perfectly in post seven with Damien Oliver and looks ready for a winning effort. She came into last year’s race off a sharp win in the seven-furlong Memsie Stakes G1 at Caulfield down in Victoria. This year, she was off for 70 days following her first start of the year but bounced back with a close fourth, beaten a neck, in the Memsie where she was at least three-wide for the entire trip and was run down late by Humidor, earner of over $3 million.
With only 13 career starts at the age of six, it looks to me that David Hayes and his training team have pointed the gelded son of Lope de Vega for this one race and his recent form doesn’t really matter. He looked like he needed his last race and should improve enough to take down the purse of the world’s richest turf race.
U S NAVY FLAG started 11 times last year at two and got hot at the end of the year with wins in the Dewhurst and Middle Park Stakes G1. He did nothing on the dirt in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but came back this year with a good second in the Irish 2,000 Guineas G1 going a mile. After failing in the St. James Palace Stakes G1 back at a mile, trainer Aidan O’Brien turned him back in distance and he beat older horses in the six-furlong July Cup G1.
Off since then, Ryan Moore will break him from post three and he will try to show the brilliant speed he had last time out. If he does, coupled with O’Brien’s prowess shipping horses all over the world, it makes him a major contender in here.
#5 Vega Magic to Win/Place
Exacta #5 Vega Magic with #8 U S Navy Flag and #1 Redzel
Exacta #8 US Navy Flag and #1 Redzel with #5 Vega Magic