Baritone has right key
Villiers crown will be sweet Sydney first for Moroney
LIGHTLY raced Mr Baritone has already provided trainer Michael Moroney with one career first and will be out to deliver him another in today’s Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick.
Moroney, who has bases in Melbourne and New Zealand, has enjoyed great success in Australia with his big-race wins including the 2000 Melbourne Cup with Brew and 1997 Victoria Derby with Second Coming.
But until Mr Baritone posted an effortless 5+ length victory at Randwick in July, Sydney was an unhappy hunting ground for the trans-Tasman trainer.
His smart filly French Lady ran into an in-form Wild Iris in the 2004 AJC Australian Oaks while Mahoenui Lass was runnerup to Kapchat in the 1994 Coolmore Classic.
‘‘I had a lot of Group One placings but I hadn’t won one, full stop,’’ Moroney said.
‘‘I ran second in an AJC Oaks and second in a Group One mares race at Rosehill but I was mainly taking Group horses there and they were running placings in Group races.’’
Today Moroney will again put his faith in Mr Baritone to break another Sydney duck.
If the five-year-old can upset the Group Two Villiers field he will provide Moroney with his first stakes success in Sydney.
Mr Baritone was yesterday rated a $26 chance with TAB Sportsbet to do just that and, while Moroney conceded winning the Villiers would be a tough task, he said it wasn’t beyond the gelding.
‘‘It would be nice,’’ Moroney said. ‘‘He’s going to be a chance, no matter what, he’s always competitive.
‘‘After he won in Sydney the first time and won quite easily we decided to give him a break and aim him towards the Villiers.
‘‘It does look a stronger race than normal this year, there are a lot of black type winners and he hasn’t won black type.
‘‘He seems good. He stayed up in Sydney after his last run and he’s trained on well.’’
Mr Baritone has had five runs back from a spell and has missed a cheque just once in 15 starts.
He failed by a long head to hold off Nuclear Sky over 1500m at Rosehill last start and while today will be his first test over 1600m, Moroney says he is bred to handle the trip.
‘‘I think he will run it out. He’s out of a stout family on his dam’s side,’’ he said.
Mr Baritone will be ridden by Jay Ford, who will be out to erase the disappointment of Takeover Target’s forced withdrawal from the Hong Kong Sprint earlier this month due to a swab irregularity.
Meanwhile, Moroney said stable star Xcellent was continuing to progress well from a tendon operation and remained on track for an autumn campaign in Sydney.
BIG ASK . . . Mr Baritone, pictured bolting in at Randwick in July, will provide Michael Moroney with his first Group winner in Sydney if he can win today’s Villiers Stakes