10/15/2014 11:00AM

Lucia Valentina, Bande are leading contenders in Caulfield Cup


Lucia Valentina, a two-time stakes winner in Australia in the last six weeks, and Bande, a stakes winner from Japan, are two leading contenders in Saturday’s $2,634,000 Caulfield Cup at Caulfield Racecourse, a race that could provide vital clues for the Melbourne Cup next month.

The Group 1 Caulfield Cup is run over 1 1/2 miles and will have a maximum field of 18 starters. The race drew a full field, with four horses on the also-eligible list.

Lucia Valentina, a 4-year-old New Zealand-bred filly by Savabeel, won the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes over 1 1/4 miles against males at Flemington Racecourse on Oct. 4. She was third in the Group 1 Australian Oaks last April, her most recent start over 1 1/2 miles.

Bande, a 4-year-old Irish-bred colt by Authorized, won the listed Nikkei Open over 1 5/8 miles on turf at Sapporo, Japan, on Aug. 10. Bande is considered an 8-1 chance to win the Melbourne Cup, the second choice on some future-book lists behind Protectionist, who is not part of the Caulfield Cup field.

Saturday’s race also includes Green Moon, the winner of the 2012 Melbourne Cup; Dandino, who won the American St. Leger Stakes at Arlington Park in 2013; and Admire Rakti, who was fourth in the 2013 Japan Cup.