Start critical to Speak The Truth in $1m Race by Grins

By Michael Guerin

Trainer Shannon Price prefers logic to emotion as she analyses the tactics of her stable star Speak The Truth who could become the most pivotal pacer in Friday’s $1m Race By Grins at Cambridge.

Price was initially disappointed to draw barrier seven in the 2200m mobile (starting from six) but the connections of key rivals Don’t Stop Dreaming and Merlin are both worried the big Queensland pacer could still have the gate speed to cross to the lead at the start.

If he does, Price will give ex-pat Kiwi driver Adam Sanderson licence to own the race.

“We didn’t hand up the lead to Leap The Fame in the Miracle Mile, why would we hand up to these horses?” says Price.

The comment comes with no bravado or disrespect, just the reality that if Speak The Truth can lead around Cambridge his best chance of winning would be staying there, especially as Sanderson’s only options to take a trail would be behind Don’t Stop Dreaming or Merlin, horses he would be unlikely to run down.

Price also sees Friday’s slot race as a rare chance for Speak The Truth to win a major race away from her home-state hero Leap To Fame, who he has never beaten.

Much like Don’t Stop Dreaming, Speak The Truth appears sharpened by his recent Menangle racing which places a premium on early, sustained speed and Don’t Stop Dreaming’s trainer Mark Purdon admits the big visitor could play a key role.

I am pretty confident he (Don’t Stop Dreaming) can hold most of them at the start, including Merlin, but Speak The Truth worries me,” says Purdon, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he got across us all.”

Price says that would have been unlikely just a few months ago but racing hard and fast up on speed in Sydney has Speak The Truth ready to put all his eggs in one basket on Friday night.

“That Sydney racing really woke him up and he is definitely faster early now.

“He has settled in well since he got here so I think he has a real chance.”

The respect shown to Speak The Truth by serious players suggests his $10 final field odds may not survive all the way until Friday night’s 9.10pm start time.

Don’t Stop Dreaming was the $1.90 post-draw favourite with the TAB and if he can hold both Merlin and Don’t Stop Dreaming at the start that could look decent value as most would expect last-minute include Kango to take a trail behind one of the big names if he ends up holding the tactical ace early.

Merlin was the $3.50 second favourite with the huge drifters being Better Eclipse, after he drew the outside of the front line, and the three second line runners, South Coast Arden, Self Assured and Sooner The Bettor.

Friday night’s TAB Trot, the richest trotting race ever held in the Southern Hemisphere, sees Just Believe as the $2.10 favourite which would see dream money for his supporters if he can lead.

But two of his fellow Victorians, Arcee Phoenix and Callmethebreeze, will be hoping for that same piece of Cambridge real estate and an unlikely war between the trio would seem the best, and maybe only hope for a Kiwi victory as both Muscle Mountain (8) and Oscar Bonavena (1 on the second line) need a hot pace to be serious threats from their awkward draws.

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