By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
From three runners in the Silver Bowl, trainer Michael Clements has narrowed his focus down to only two in the next Leg, this Sunday’s $400,000 Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1600m), even if a few queries still hover over one of the duo’s ability to see out the mile.
Clements saddled Eye Guy, Quarter Back and Eagle Eye in the first Leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge, the Group 3 Silver Bowl (1400m) on June 9, with the former faring the best in third place while Quarter Back didn’t quite live up to expectations with a seventh place and Eagle Eye ran last.
More of a Polytrack sprinter, the Argentinian-bred Eagle Eye was quite logically dropped for the second Leg while Clements is pressing on with the other two. Eagle Eye is entered in the $85,000 Class 2 race over 1200m instead.
While it was always more or less the script to keep Eye Guy and Quarter Back on the Derby trail – the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) is the third and last Leg on July 21 – Clements was a bit bemused by Quarter Back’s run in the Silver Bowl.
This week’s performance will probably give a few answers as to the Derby prospects of the Japanese-bred son of Empire Maker, a Belmont Stakes (2400m) winner in 2003 and the grandsire of US Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
“Whilst Quarter Back is bred to get distance, he hasn’t done it yet,” said Clements.
“He’s a winner over 1200m (three wins) and 1400m (once), with his last win over 1200m (May 10) the most impressive. On paper, he seems to be a better sprinter than miler.
“But I’m still running him in the Stewards’ Cup, even if he has all to do. He still has to show us that he can get a trip.
“He did run over the mile once, but it was as at the end of his prep as a three-year-old. It was in the Singapore Guineas, and he didn’t go so well.”
Champion jockey Vlad Duric retains the ride on Quarter Back as well as Daniel Moor on Eye Guy, a gallant third in the Silver Bowl after trying to make all.
“It was a pleasing run from Eye Guy the last time. He ran a nice third,” said Clements of the son of Bradbury’s Luck raced by Joe Singh.
“The distance is more his target and then he will go for the Derby after that. On his Moonbeam Vase run (second to Elite Excalibur), he will get the distance.
“He’s a horse who is more suited with running on the speed, and we’re pretty excited about his chances.”
Clements said he expected a better run from both horses in the Stewards’ Cup as well as Eagle Eye in the Class 2 event.
“Eagle Eye is more of a sprinter. It was always the plan to run him only in the first Leg,” he said.
“Hopefully, he can bounce back. Joseph Azzopardi will ride him again.”