10/11/2017 2:40PM

Inaugural Everest a racing summit


Australia produces the best turf sprinters in the world, and whoever wins the inaugural running of the Everest Stakes on Saturday at Royal Randwick undoubtedly will be on top of the world.

The Everest is worth $7,774,000 and thus carries the highest purse of any turf race. The race, however, is modeled after the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream, and the connections of the entrants must pay an entry fee of almost $470,000 that secures a slot in the race for a three-year period.

Excitement surrounding the Everest has been building since the announcement in February of its creation, and a full field of 12 plus two also-eligibles has been entered. The Everest is contested over 1,200 meters, about six furlongs, around one right-handed bend at Royal Randwick. Post time for the Everest, race 8 on a blockbuster 10-race card, is 1:15 a.m. Eastern. Betting and live video of the races are available at DRF Bets, and Daily Racing Form has partnered with Sky Racing to sponsor the Everest Tournament, a free handicapping contest that starts at 10 p.m. Eastern on DRF Tournaments. The contest winner receives a free trip to Australia for Day 1 of The Championships at Randwick on April 7, 2018.

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The Everest is a weight-for-age race, which is a mark in favor of the extremely talented 3-year-old filly She Will Reign. She Will Reign carries just 112 pounds, 17 fewer than the older males in the race, and 12 fewer than the older females. She Will Reign breaks from post 2 under Corey Brown, who has the mount on the 2016 Golden Slipper winner for the first time. She Will Reign won the Golden Slipper, also at six furlongs, with a great ground-saving trip, but she fell into that trip thanks to an unusually sharp early move at the start of the turn that propelled her into perfect position. She Will Reign has tactical pace, but rallied wide to beat older horses Sept. 29 in the five-furlong Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley, her first race as a 3-year-old.

“She’s got no weight on her back, and she’s just got to turn up with the form she’s produced every time she’s come to the races and I’m sure she’ll be very competitive,” Brown said.

Kerrin McEvoy rode She Will Reign in the Moir, but is the pilot on the brilliantly fast Redzel in the Everest. Redzel comes off a course-record-setting performance at Royal Randwick over 5 1/2 furlongs, and while he is clearly among the prime contenders, Redzel is not entirely proven against top company over six furlongs.

Perhaps the biggest question in the Everest is how Chautauqua will run. Seven-year-old Chautauaqua has delivered some of the best turf-sprint performances in the world over the last few seasons and has shown his very best before at Randwick. But Chautauqua’s two races leading to the Everest produced sixth- and seventh-place finishes. The first of those was over just 5 1/2 furlongs, and Chuautauqua came flying home too late in his most recent race, but one wonders if after 30 starts he still can muster his late run in time to get home.

Five-year-old Vega Magic has won 12 of 17 overall and eight of his last 10, and he is a proven Group 1 performer. He’s turning back from seven furlongs and probably can’t attain quite the same favorable early pressing position going six, but Vega Magic rates a real chance.

Clearly Innocent won’t be as far back early as Chautauqua but also does his best work late. He is proven at the Group 1 level going six furlongs and had a seemingly ideal recent prep race.

The Gai Waterhouse-trained 5-year-old mare English enters on a seven-race losing streak that belies her improving form. Deploy set the Randwick six-furlong course record earlier this year, but as fast as he is, faces a serious class test. The capable Redkirk Warrior has not shown his best over the local sod, although those race were run over heavy going he does not relish.

A previous version of this article misstated the cost of the entry fee to the Everest. It is $469,590US, not $600,000, which is the cost in Australian dollars.