Preparations are well underway for the world’s richest turf race, The Everest on October 19 at Royal Randwick in Australia.

Inaugurated in 2017, this year’s renewal of the six-furlong sprint will carry a massive purse of $14 million, and if history is any indication, the seven-year-old gelding Redzel stands a strong chance to snatch the prize.

Owned by Triple Crown Sydicate and conditioned by the father/son team of Peter and Paul Snowden, #2 Redzel has made a habit of peaking for The Everest, producing career-best efforts to win the first two editions of the race. In his quest to secure an unprecedented three-peat, the son of Snitzel will vie for victory in the September 21 Bowemans Furniture The Shorts (post time 1:15 a.m. ET) at Randwick.

Post time 1:15 a.m. ET at Randwick

Late Scratches: #4 Osborne Bulls, #5 Viridine, #9 Sunlight now also out of the race due to the state of the track.

Although Redzel’s form tailed off following his 1 ¼-length triumph in the 2018 The Everest, a winter break seemed to work its magic. Redzel kicked off his 2019-20 campaign by winning the five-furlong Forum Concorde Stakes (G3) at Randwick for the third consecutive season, holding off Group 1 winner #3 Pierata to win by a head.

Pierata won the seven-furlong Schweppes All Aged Stakes (G1) at Randwick back in April and is actually favored to turn the tables on Redzel in The Shorts, though the 5 ½-furlong distance of Saturday’s sprint might be a bit shorter than Pierata prefers.

In any case, Redzel’s task has been made easier by the scratch of #1 Santa Ana Lane. A five-time Group 1 winner, Santa Ana Lane is the early favorite for The Everest, but will bypass The Shorts due to the rain-soaked “heavy” course conditions currently prevailing at Randwick.

The wet course shouldn’t bother Redzel, who won the 2018 The Everest over heavy going. It could also play to the strengths of #4 Osborne Bulls, a Godolphin runner who rallied to finish third in the 2018 The Everest. Although this son of Street Cry has yet to win a Group 1 race, he finished second in five consecutive top-level events during the first half of 2019 and is one to fear in his seasonal debut.

#6 Classique Legend, #8 In Her Time, and #9 Sunlight are all expected starters in The Everest and will join Redzel in using The Shorts as a prep race. With three victories from four starts, the lightly-raced Classique Legend particularly looms as a runner to watch. #10 Graff, #11 Jonker, and the Godolphin longshots #5 Viridine and #7 Home of the Brave complete the field.

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Santa Ana Lane scratched to focus on The Everest, Photo courtesy of the Hong Kong Jockey Club

Redzel winning the inaugural Everest Stakes