Soul Patch cruises to victory at the Valley. Picture: Michael Klein
Soul Patch cruises to victory at the Valley. Picture: Michael Klein

Keys’ bid for All-Star glory begins in earnest

KEN Keys has hoped to train a Group 1 winner for more than 30 years but the Cranbourne handler is happy to go without if Soul Patch or Spanish Reef can win the $5 million All-Star Mile.

But Keys must first get the stable stars into the fan-voted 1600m feature, at Caulfield on March 14, after both stamped their credentials last spring by winning black type races.

Soul Patch, one of five winners to come out of the Caulfield Guineas, will look to follow inaugural All-Star Mile winner Mystic Journey and qualify through the Australian Guineas.

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"Don't worry, I could go without a Group 1 winning a $5 million race," Keys said.

"It works out pretty good after the (Australian) Guineas, but he'll probably need a bit of public support because I don't think he'll (get the votes) unless he wins the Guineas.

 

"My goodness it is a long way to go, at the moment they're donations ($500 nomination fee) to the Royal Children's Hospital and we'll see how it pans out from there."

All-Star Mile voting opens on Thursday.

Soul Patch surged through his grades last preparation, winning a BM64 at Flemington before contesting the Caulfield Guineas (8th), Moonee Valley Vase (1st) and Victoria Derby (3rd).

"I think if we had a barrier and ran the race (Guineas) again we'd be right in it," Keys said.

"Our sectionals were as good as anything … should've been a lot closer."

Ryan Maloney after riding Alligator Blood to victory in the Magic Millions 3YO Guineas.
Ryan Maloney after riding Alligator Blood to victory in the Magic Millions 3YO Guineas.

Alligator Blood, runner-up to Caulfield Guineas winner Super Seth, further enhanced the three-year-old form last Saturday winning the $2 million Magic Millions Guineas at Gold Coast.

Keys plans to ramp up both the racing and marketing campaigns for Guineas-All-Star Mile contender Soul Patch in coming weeks, careful not to flatten the promising three-year-old colt.

"It's a tough gig (balancing) doing too much and not enough," Keys said.

"We learned a lot about him in a short time last spring.

"Maybe we can keep (him) fresher and not a true stayer.

"He'll tell us, we won't be telling him."

Trainer Ken Keys is hoping to get two runners into the All-Star Mile.
Trainer Ken Keys is hoping to get two runners into the All-Star Mile.

Keys will target one of two All-Star Mile "win and you're in" races, the Futurity Stakes (1400m) or Blamey Stakes (1600m), to qualify the tough mare and mile specialist Spanish Reef.

Spanish Reef would not be without claims of a wildcard into the All-Star Mile, with six of seven career wins at 1600m including a Group 2 and three Group 3s.

If unsuccessful, Spanish Reef will contest the Group 2 weight-for-age Sunline Stakes on March 20.

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News Corp Australia


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