Krug to race before final

By Michael Guerin

The hot favourite for next month’s rescheduled Sires’ Stakes Final will contest next week’s Addington heat even though he probably doesn’t have to.

And co-trainer Nathan Purdon says he is happy to have a three-year-old race to target with Krug, even though it is oddly on the way to the two-year-old Sires’ Stakes Final.

As we all know the unique situation of having the two-year-old final early in the horse’s three-year-old careers came about when the group one, usually held at Addington in May, was canned because of Covid lockdown.

It will now be held at Alexandra Park on Friday September 18, a week before the first Harness Millions Final (the former Sales Series Pace) is held at the same track.

The fact both races were able to get off the ground at all and our young horses can then roll straight into the actual three-year-old Sires’ Stakes heats for the Addington final in November and the Sales Series at Alexandra Park on New Years Eve is one of the great miracles of harness racing coming out of lockdown.

And was undoubtedly a lot harder to pull together than harness administrators get credit for.

But what many won’t know is there are only two heats of the series at Addington on August 21 and Alexandra Park on September 3 to be run before the final as three were run last season. Kinda.

Because of time restrictions meaning a full set of heats couldn’t be run the first actual Sires’ Stakes heat at Addington held in March still counts while the final Young Guns heat at Alexandra Park in February and the Kindergarten Stakes at Wyndham in March are now also counted as Sires’ Stakes qualifying races.

They carry slightly less weight, with the winners of the three actual heats getting first ranking, then the Young Guns heat and Kindergarten winner next rank, then the Sires’ Stakes second placegetters and so on.

That means should they want to take their place at Alexandra Park in the final, First Class and Better Call Me (Addington heat), American Dealer and It’s All About Faith (Young Guns heat) and Delightful Dude (2nd in Kindergarten won by First Class) are all qualified.

With a double up in First Class and Delightful Dude (third in the Addington heat) it means that even counting back to third, after three of the qualifying races run there are only five finalists.

Two of the other third placegetters won’t be in the final with trainer Graeme Anderson confirming he will be keeping American Lightning (third in Kindergarten) home in the South Island cause he wasn’t paid up while Platinum Stride, third in the Young Guns heat, is now trained in Sydney.

With more double ups likely, there is a very real chance fourth in a heat could get you into the final, which is great news for punters taking the $2.30 about Krug to win the final because that is where he finished in that Addington heat way back on March 20.

So while he will contests next week’s heat if he happened to be unlucky or even had to be scratched for any reason, Krug will almost certainly qualify for the final regardless.

“We actually want to go to the heat anyway,” says Purdon.

“He has won his last two easily but he can’t keep racing those good older horses on their way to open class every week so dropping back to three-year-old company will do him some good.

“Then all going well at Addington he will head to Alexandra Park for the two finals up there and we are looking at taking at least another couple up as well.

“But it is real pleasure to train a horse like him. He is definitely better now than at the back end of his two-year-old season last campaign.

“He is more than a little bit special.”

The Addington heat will be very strong and it will be interesting to see whether last week’s stunning winner It’s All About Faith returns for another clash with Krug.

And while the north many not have the big bangers their September third heat could also be very strong with First Class and American Dealer there, along with recent winners Mr Fantastic, Marathon Man and Nevada and the likes of Hot And Treacherous, who was back at the workouts last Friday set to be there.

The 2020 Sires’ Stakes Final, to be contested by a field of three-year-olds 1000kms from its usual track and four months late, should be worth the wait.

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