Butt's buzzing about the Wolf

By Adam Hamilton

ANTHONY Butt thinks one-time “nutcase” Wolf Stride is a Grand Circuit horse in the making.

But will that be enough to win a super-strong $100,000 Group 1 NSW Metropolitan Region final (2300m) at Menangle on Saturday night?

“I really like him, like him a lot. My opinion’s really soared over the past eight weeks or so when we’ve asked more of him and he’s really stepped-up,” he said.

“He just did it so easily in the heat, running quick overall time, but finishing it off in 25.9sec without me asking him to do much at all.

“But he’ll need to be good. This is a strong race. Craig Cross’s team is in such great form and they’ve got five through the final.”

The Emilio Rosati-owned and bred Wolf Stride went through a few stables before landing with Butt and arrived with “luggage.”

“They said he’d been a real handful. He’d run out he gate one night and refused to circle around at the start a few times as well,” Butt said.

“Despite all that, everyone said he had plenty of ability so we took just decided to take it really slowly with him and see what was there.

“He came back from about six months out and ran a terrific third at his first run for us when he sat parked at Menangle.

“Then he won a couple, but did so without setting the world alight, but then when we backed him up quickly he really started to thrive and improve.

“Even since his won his heat of this series (May 5), his work seems to have got better again. He works like a Grand Circuit horse.”

Wolf Stride heads into Saturday night’s final on a five-race winning streak and is $2.60 favourite from gate six.

“It’s a good draw without being great because he’s got some good ones inside him, but the way he’s going I’m sure he’ll run a mighty race,” Butt said.

Butt also has $61 outsider Always A Stride in the final from a wide draw in gate nine.

Of Cross’s five finalists, heat winners Culture King (gate eight, $3.20) and First String (three, $5.50) are the major hopes.

Luke McCarthy has opted to drive Culture King with his brother, Todd, aboard the likely early leader First String.

In other stable news, Butt said his buzz three-year-old trotter Elite Stride was “having two to three weeks out” before deciding how the rest of his season looked.

“We’re really waiting on HRV to say when or if they’ll run the Victoria Trotters’ Derby,” Butt said. “It’s not a given we’ll go there, but it’s a key to working out whether do chase it or wait for the Breeders Crown, which sounds like it’ll be in November.”

Butt and fiancé Sonya Smith expects to have “eight or 10” targeting the Breeders Crown in Victoria.

Leading the way will be star three-year-old pacing pair Line Up and Perfect Stride.

“They’ve both just come back in and will start to hopple-up again soon. They’re really just in limbo a bit until we get closer to the Breeders Crown,” he said.

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