Australia Preview: McDonald poised for Magic Millions day

January 12th, 2023

Australian eyes are turned to Queensland’s Gold Coast this weekend for Magic Millions raceday, featuring a 10-race card for Magic Millions sale graduates worth a total of A$11 million ($7.7 million).

The big two races on the card are both worth A$2 million ($1,384,000). Let’s look at some spot plays for both.

Race 7, 12:25 a.m. ET Saturday: Magic Millions 2-Year-Old Classic, 1,200 meters (about six furlongs), 2-year-olds

China Horse Club has a strong hand with three horses, two of them pre-post favorites. #4 Empire of Japan is strongly favored after winning the Breeders’ Plate (G3) on debut at Randwick and then finishing third at the same track after being caught wide. He has the services of ace jockey James McDonald.

The ownership team also has second favorite #2 Sovereign Fund, unbeaten in two starts. From the Peter and Paul Snowden stable, like Empire of Japan, Sovereign Fund has a horror draw of 17, but he did beat Empire of Japan’s last-start conquerors #9 Fire Lane and #10 Platinum Jubilee Dec. 31.

Both horses could suffer if the track has a bias toward leaders, as it can do. If it does, the one to watch may be #13 Skirt The Law. She has great early speed, and her barrier draw of four will help her immensely.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #4 Empire of Japan
  • $5 exacta: 4 with 2, 9, 10, 13
  • $2 exacta: 2, 9, 10, 13 with 4

Race 8, 1:10 a.m. ET Saturday: Magic Millions 3-Year-Old Guineas, 1,425 meters (about seven furlongs and 18 yards), 3-year-olds

Not the strongest field to ever contest the race, with only a few runners having graded stakes form in Sydney or Melbourne. The most notable of those is #1 Tijuana, winner of the Bill Stutt (G2) in Melbourne Sept. 23; he hasn’t raced since Oct. 29, so it’s hard to know how ready he is.

#4 Yellow Brick is well-fancied after winning his last four, but the form is a little hard to assess. Coming to form at the right time is #14 Russian Conquest, second in the Listed Gosford Guineas Dec. 28. With McDonald on board and a reasonable barrier of nine, she looks a good chance.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #14 Russian Conquest

Bonus play – New Zealand

Trentham, Race 8, 10:32 p.m. Friday ET: Jr & N Berkett Telegraph (G1), 1,200 meters, 3yo and up

Can #6 Levante put her disappointing third in the Railway (G1) Jan. 1 behind her? Probably, but it’s questionable whether the likely 1-2 odds are worth it. I’m instead going for another multiple Group 1 winner in #7 Coventina Bay, who should relish the tougher test provided by Trentham’s dog-leg six-furlong race.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #7 Coventina Bay