Derby a possibility for Solidify

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23 Feb 2024

By Richard Edmunds, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Hall of Fame trainer Graeme Rogerson has bigger and better things in mind for all three of his runners at Otaki on Saturday, including a potential quick back-up into next weekend’s Gr.1 Trackside New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie.

Rogerson will run Solidify in Saturday’s $40,000 Cavallo Farm & Chris Rutten Bloodstock 3YO (1600m).

“If he runs a good race at Otaki tomorrow and pulls up well afterwards, we’ll think very seriously about running him in the Derby,” said Rogerson, who trains in partnership with his wife Debbie.

Solidify was a Listed winner at Te Rapa last autumn, then had no luck in two black-type appearances during the Queensland winter carnival.

A second placing in the Gr.2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m) was the highlight of an up-and-down spring for the son of Redwood, who was later gelded and spelled before returning with a 10th in this month’s Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa.

“He didn’t quite perform to his best in the spring, but he had a twisted testicle and we gelded him,” Rogerson said. “We ran him in the Group One sprint first-up, which was a tough race for him to kick off in, but I thought he got going quite nicely in the last 50m. I was very happy with the run.

“He’s been working well since then and I’m expecting a big performance from him tomorrow. It’ll be interesting to see whether he can earn himself a shot at the Derby.”

The TAB currently rates Solidify an $81 chance in its Derby market, which is headed by exceptional filly Orchestral at $1.40.

Team Rogerson already has a leading Derby contender in the form of last-start Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) runner-up Just As Sharp, who is on the third line of favouritism at $10.

“I thought his Avondale Guineas run was super under the circumstances,” Rogerson said. “I didn’t think they’d be winning from the back at Ellerslie that day, so we decided to change his pattern of racing. Ryan Elliot rode him to instructions and had him up closer to the pace. As it turned out, the filly was able to run him down. We were still very happy with him considering the amount of work he’d done in the running.

“I think he’ll make a race of it against that filly in the Derby – I really do. We’ll ride him quieter. It’s going to be a good race to watch, and I’m looking forward to it.”

The other two Rogerson-trained runners at Otaki on Saturday are last-start winner Hanalei Star, who will join Solidify among a small field in the Cavallo Farm & Chris Rutten Bloodstock 3YO, and promising stayer Infer in the Harcourts Otaki Handicap (2200m).

“Hanalei Star is a filly on the way up, and she needs racing,” Rogerson said. “She’s been a very slow learner. This race should suit her – it’s only a little field, although there’s a couple of quite nice horses in it.

“I wanted to run her in the Lowland Stakes (Gr.2, 2100m) next Wednesday, but she still needs another good hit-out before going up to that sort of distance. I’ll see how she goes here and then decide on Monday whether we back her up in the Lowland.

“I think Infer is a really good staying horse in the making. He won easily at Matamata last start, then was unfortunately late-scratched at Te Rapa the other day – he had a bruise on his heel, and I put a pad over it and that just ended up pressing down on it.

“That’s come right now and he worked like a Cup horse on Tuesday. We’ll have a look at him tomorrow before making any firm decisions, but I think we’ll likely press on towards the Auckland Cup (Gr.2, 3200m). We’ve got quite a bit to look forward to over the next couple of weeks, I think.” – LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Photo: Kenton Wright (Race Images)