Richard Litt knows what good horses are capable of and he’s optimistic that a lightly-raced three-year-old in his stable can somewhat fill the void left by his Group 1 star Castelvecchio.
The horse is Black Duke, a striking black son of Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente.
Litt won’t compare Black Duke with Castelvecchio, interestingly it’s one of his former stable star’s biggest rivals that comes to mind when the trainer looks into his crystal ball thinking of what lies ahead for Black Duke.
“He’s got the makings of a good horse, a very, very good horse,” Litt said. “To me he’s a Shadow Hero-like horse.
Shadow Hero winning the 2019 Spring Champion Stakes. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
“He could be that type of horse, a good and tough style of gelding.”
“A very appealing horse to the eye”, Black Duke has been a work in progress, recently gelded after a string raceday misdemeanours.
“Last preparation his attitude let him down a lot, so we gelded him,” Litt said.
“He would lash out getting in the truck, kick the walls down in the tie ups at the races, you couldn’t take him for a paddle or anything he was overdoing everything.
“He was high revs all the time.
“I ran him in the Dulcify and he only went fair that day but geez he had a bad day.
“He went off in the truck, played up in the tie-up stalls and we couldn’t get his back shoes back on him, he was being a jerk to put it nicely.
“He’s still got a bit of rubbish in him but in time I think he’ll put it behind him and the next six months he is going to mature into a really nice horse.”
Black Duke winning at Canterbury. Photo: Bradley Photographers.Source:Supplied
Black Duke made his first raceday appearance as a gelding in a 1000 metre three-year-old graduation at Warwick Farm where he reeling off the quickest last 800, 600 and 400m splits of the race to get within 1-1/2 lengths of the winner.
On Saturday, he steps up to 1300m when he takes his place in a competitive three and four-year-old benchmark 72 handicap.
“His run the other day was a quick turnaround from a trial and the main thing I wanted for the horse was for him to have a nice day out and get some confidence from the run,” Litt said.
“They are all coming out of midweek grade on Saturday, but I think he’s stuck a tough race. I think the form will hold up well out of the race.
“In his favour is he’s drawn one, he can just sit in behind them and doesn’t have to get too far back.
“I think he’s screaming for the 1300 (metres).”
Black Duke has been fancied in early betting, trimming in from $14 to $11 with TAB.com.au.
Leading Sydney apprentice Tom Sherry retains the reins and reduces the weight impost to 54kg.
Litt says Black Duke’s upcoming assignments will go a long way to steering the trainer into future assignments for the horse that is bred to get better as the distances increase.
Richard Litt with Castelvecchio last year. Photo: Stuart McEvoy.Source:News Corp Australia
“If he can hold his own on Saturday it gives us something of an indication of where to look to at the end of his three-year-old season,” he said.
“There’s Sydney in the autumn and we’ve also got Brisbane, which has some nice three-year-old races.
“It’s a call we need to make sooner rather than later because there are a lot of nice races coming up and we need to decide which ones we are going to target so we can give the horse the best possible preparation for the races we choose.
“There’s a lot of good races from March until the end of the season for a horse like this and I think the more he races, the better he’ll get.
“How far he gets over ground-wise, I’m not sure, time will tell.
“He’s quite brilliant. You don’t often see stayers figuring over 1000m like this horse did first-up but I don’t think it will hold him back from getting out to 2000 metres.
“Further than 2000 metres, I don’t really know.”
Originally published asBlack beauty set to make a name for himself
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