By Duane Ranger
Queensland will have three representatives lining up in the prestigious Group One $150,000 Lazarus Victoria Oaks for the 3YO pacing fillies at Melton on Saturday night.
The Sunshine State boasts the favourite and second favourite Belle Of Montana ($1.30) and Smart As Camm Be ($6), and $151 outsider, Betamerica.
Belle Of Montana is owned by former Ladbrokes chief, Dean Shannon (Montana Park Pty Ltd); Smart As Camm Be is trained and driven by Kylie Rasmussen, and owned by Pam Smart and her son Chris; while Shannon Price and Raboki Pty Ltd own Betamerica.
They have drawn one, six, and 10 respectively.
Rasmussen was not perturbed by Smart As Camm Be’s wide draw.
“The outside of the front row isn’t the worst possible draw for her because I think she prefers to win her races from back in the field.
“Obviously the one-horse is the filly to beat, but if we can get a nice trip and can get one go at them, she has the gait, will, and ability to get close to the favourite – if not beat her,” Rasmussen said.
Those comments came three days after Smart As Camm Be waltzed to an easy victory as the $1.50 favourite in the second Victoria Oaks heat at Melton’s Tabcorp Park on Saturday.
The Cammibest filly also drew six that night and stopped the clock in 2:43.1. Her mile rate for the 2,240m mobile was 1:57.2.
The Barry Purdon trained and Zachary Butcher driven Belle Of Montana beat Miss Streisand by half a neck in her first heat. The $1.20 NZ-based ‘hot-pot’ drew nine and won in 2:39.9 with a slashing 1:54.9 mile rate.
“We can only focus on what our filly can do and not what the others have done, but I do know how good Barry’s filly is.
“My girl travelled and settled in very well. She will be a lot stronger this week because she has adjusted to the surroundings well. This is her first trip away and I’m very proud of her. She can win,” Rasmussen said.
Smart As Camm Be has now won 11 of her 13 starts and banked $148,135.
The Stanmore horsewomen also brought her stable star, Lilac Flash, to Melbourne as a travel companion last week. However, that black Bettor’s Delight gelding proved to be more than just a travel mate.
The 5-year-old notched up his 19th win in 52 starts ($142,231) in a $20,000 M1 to M2 Pace on Saturday. The $3.30 second favourite drew nine and won with a blistering 1:51.6 mile rate for the 1,720m mobile.
He has drawn four in the $24,000 Captain Sandy Free-For-All at 7.30pm on Saturday.
But all the attention will come two races later at 8.30pm when Australia and New Zealand’s best fillies will do the business.
Price, who owns the American Ideal filly, Betamerica, couldn’t believe her brown pacer was paying more than $150 to win the coveted Oaks.
“I thought her run last week was a cracker and I can’t believe that she is one of the outsiders in the field. She will need luck on her side but I am very happy with Larajay Farms’ performance with her so far this season,” Woolloongabba-based Price said.
Betamerica is trained by Jess Tubbs and will be driven by Greg Sugars. He will start from three on the second row this week after finishing a close-up head second in the third heat behind the $2.60 favourite, Kualoa.
TAB’s opening odds for Saturday’s 2,240m mobile are:
Belle Of Montana $1.30, Smart As Camm Be $6, Kualoa $7, Two Times Better $21, Miss Streisand $23, Enchanted Stride $23, Victoria Brew $34, Tangoingwithsierra $51, Wellsaidlucy $71, Vena May $81, Swimsuit Edition $126, Betamerica $151, Single Tree Road $151.