New Zealand trainer Murray Baker collected his second feature Group 1 victory of the Spring Racing Carnival when Turn Me Loose claimed Saturday’s $1 million Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington.
The in-form four-year-old just had enough in reserve to hold off the fast-finishing Politeness – who just missed out on her second Group 1 of the Melbourne Cup Carnival – and secure his third-straight Stakes victory.
Baker, who three weeks earlier claimed the $3 million BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) with Mongolian Khan, said Turn Me Loose could now be headed to Hong Kong for the International Mile (1600m) in December, with the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) in April a long-term target.
“He’s a very good miler, he’s so big and strong and he runs great sectionals and makes it hard for horses behind him,” Baker said.
“I’d certainly like to take him to Sydney. The Queen Elizabeth is a good race, it’s worth a lot of money and I’ve won it with (It’s A) Dundeel and I’m sure this horse will run 2000.
“He’s out of a Danehill mare that’s out of a Sadler’s Wells mare and he relaxes well and he’s fast so I think he can do it.”
Turn Me Loose ($9) was sent straight to the front by jockey Kerrin McEvoy, where he remained throughout to win by a half-neck over Politeness ($10), with Rock Sturdy ($31) a further neck away in third.
McEvoy picked up the ride on the son of Iffraaj after the horse’s regular rider Opie Bosson was suspended on Derby Day.
Damien Oliver said eighth placegetter Disposition ($5EF) simply performed below his best, while Bow Creek ($5EF) – who weakened into 12th – was subsequently found to be lame.
Meanwhile, Baker revealed Mongolian Khan was on the improve after his spring campaign was ended by a colic attack, and could be headed home from the Werribee Equine Clinic within a week.
“He’s on the improve but it’s been a slow process. He’s had one or two hiccups along the way but hopefully he’ll come back,” he said.
“He’ll probably be there (at Werribee) for another week just to be safe but everything’s heading in the right direction.”