Minhaaj winning at Flemington (Image: Racing Photos)
Exceed And Excel filly Minhaaj raced her way onto the fringe of a start for the $3.5 million Golden Slipper Stakes in two weeks after thrashing her rivals at Group 3 level to kick off the Super Saturday meeting at Flemington.
The Shadwell Stud-owned filly had a 4.5 length margin on second placed Muntaseera in the 1200-metre Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes, prompting co-trainer David Hayes to declare that her performance signaled she could race well in a Golden Slipper.
"I think she invited herself to run in the Golden Slipper," Hayes said. "The favourite (Muntaseera) ran second and she smashed it and that's good Blue Diamond form.
"It's one of those years when every week the favourites are getting massacred so it could be a year for a nice fresh one on the scene.
"We've just gone slowly with this one and she's appeared on time and I am sure she'll pull up brilliantly on this lovely track (Soft 6) today.
"She's got great change-up speed. She showed today she can relax and quicken. She showed that at Bendigo as well."
WATCH: Minhaaj's win
The victory and the $96,000 first prize pushed Minhaaj to the borderline of a Golden Slipper start but her place in the run is now out of her hands as ballot-free races the Todman Stakes and the Reisling Stakes were to be run at Randwick on Saturday and to be followed by the Pago Pago Stakes and Magic Night Stakes seven days later.
Hayes said he fancied Minaaj and his Blue Diamond Stakes placegetter Personal would be his best chances in the Golden Slipper but said if Minhaaj fell short of a Slipper start in the order of entry, she would instead go to the $1m Percy Sykes Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 11.
Minhaaj was ridden by Daniel Stackhouse, who rode the filly at her winning debut at Bendigo but was only called up late for the ride on Saturday after engaged rider Luke Nolen called in sick.
"It was bad luck for Luke as he's done a lot of work on her over the time but so has Stackhouse and he won on her and galloped her on Monday so he got the reward," Hayes added.
Jye McNeil, who was having his first ride aboard Muntaseera, suggested her racing manners mid-race brought her unstuck.
"She wanted to race keenly but was no match for the winner," he said.