Speedy Barcelona set to dominate
BARCELONA keeps looking better at exercise each week and gets a race in which she can control the pace, going six and a half furlongs, tomorrow's sixth event for three-year-old fillies, non-winners of two races.
Owner Alexander Haber must have been hoping to strike gold when he put BARCELONA's dam, Buyabook, who previously threw former sprint champion POKER STAR, to Orange Valley's staying stallion, Natural Selection, whose rich classic vein has produced the likes of Guineas winner FUTURE KING, plus derby stars PERFECT NEIGHBOUR and SHE'S A MANEATER.
However, in five starts to date, including a brave attempt at eight and a half furlongs, BARCELONA, a comfortable winner at five and a half on her debut in April, appears, at best, to be a middle-distance sort, who likes to have things her way on the lead.
Facing 13 rivals tomorrow and nicely in at the weights with 115lb, BARCELONA has galloped five and a half furlongs at exercise for three consecutive weeks, posting a faster time each morning, before champion trainer Wayne DaCosta rounded off her preparation with a five-furlong spin, 1:01.1, last Thursday.
In contrast, BARCELONA's main rival, Richard Azan's ACKEE PIE, continues to avoid the round course at exercise, galloping 1:01.3 from the gate at five furlongs straight, which is never a good sign.
ACKEE PIE last raced on August 11, chasing COUNCIL OF TRENT all day in a nine-furlong and 25 yards race won by STORM, eventually weakening into fourth place behind INNOVATOR, who had stumbled at the start, and third-place VIKUNA, a 45-1 outsider.
BARCELONA had tested almost the same set of horses in her last two races - at seven and a half furlongs in July, chasing UNCLE HONEY into the lane with INNOVATOR hot on her heels, eventually weakening badly into fifth place.
Prior to that race, she led at eight and a half furlongs in June, overhauled by AXLE ROD approaching the last furlong, before INNOVATOR relegated her to third close home.
ACKEE PIE has faced better horses, even placing sixth in the Thornbird Stakes, a month before BARCELONA made her April 28 debut. However, she went on a four-month lay-up and only returned last month.
Though she has had two runs since, including that gallant attempt among colts and geldings, chasing COUNCIL OF TRENT, ACKEE PIE's speed at six and a half appears questionable against BARCELONA, who carried splits of 47.3, 59.3, 1:12.2 and 1:25.0, leading for seven furlongs before overhauled by AXLE ROD.
Omar Walker need not hang around to find out how sharp ACKEE PIE is. Instead let BARCELONA's pace do the talking - put her in front when the time is right and call it a day.