Manawatu trainer Lisa Latta is launching a last-straw bid to qualify Platinum Invador for Saturday week's Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie but she isn't yet committed to starting in the Classic.
Latta will produce promising Redwood gelding Platinum Invador in Saturday's Vets On Riverbank 2100 for three and four-year-olds chasing a $15,625 winner's cheque that would enhance his chances of making the field for the $1 million Derby.
Platinum Invador's counting prizemoney of $15,350 has him in 21st position on the order of entry for the 18-horse Derby after the Peter McKay-trained Langkawi and Tony Pike-trained Rippa Eagle were withdrawn this week.
Should he win at Otaki, his counting earnings would be $30,975, just shy of Arrogant's $31,500, which places the Gr.2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) runner-up in 18th place on the order of entry. A top-three finish advances him ahead of Waikato Guineas third-placegetter Sword In Stone, currently 20th in order.
Platinum Invador finished a luckless ninth in last Saturday's Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Ellerslie, denied clear running for most of the straight, and should he qualify for the Derby, that would mean three races in the space of two weeks.
"We're not making that call yet," Latta said.
"He's come through Auckland well and we're happy with him. He would have run third or fourth if he had got out last week, so we feel he's up to that level but we want to get through this Saturday first. The horse will come first."
Latta already has Sir Nate and Lincoln Falls safely in the Derby field but headed home last Saturday feeling low after Platinum Invador was left squandering in the Derby wilderness.
"We were disappointed. We went up there with a plan in place and it didn't come off. It's a lesson learnt. We didn't have a Plan B."
Saturday's race, the former New Zealand St Leger Trial, has become a makeshift Plan B, with Chris Johnson again charged with guiding Platinum Invador into Derby contention.
Should Platinum Invador fail to secure a Derby spot, Johnson will probably take the ride on Sir Nate at Ellerslie, with Johnathan Parkes booked for Lincoln Falls.
Latta will also saddle Chartwell and Fictitious in the Otaki race and expects both to run well.
"With Fictitious, 2100m is about her limit, though any fire out of the ground is going to help her. Chartwell is going great. He went well in his first run over ground and he's trained on really well too."
Latta has a formidable team racing at Otaki, with Platinum Mam'selle, Lincoln Fury, Viva Platinum, Platinum Wild Card and Kamada Lincoln also set to line up.
"Kamada Lincoln will go well. He went a solid race in the Wellington Cup (Gr.3, 3200m) and he seems to have gone on the right way too," Latta said. - NZ Racing Desk