11/03/2012 12:16PM

Repeat in Melbourne Cup a heavy task for Dunaden


Dunaden may have a difficult time defending his title in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse in Australia.

That’s the opinion of his trainer, Mikel Delzangles, who spent much of last week in California, preparing Flotilla for a win in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Delzangles left California on Friday evening for Australia, traveling from one major racing festival to another.

The $6 million Melbourne Cup is a handicap, and conditions have changed for Dunaden, a 6-year-old. When he won the race in 2011, he carried 120 pounds. This year, he is one of two horses carrying top weight of 130 pounds.

“I’m sure he’s improved, but I’m not sure he’s improved” 10 pounds, Delzangles said. “He’s going to have to carry a lot of weight. You have to be lucky.”

Dunaden won the Group 1 Caulfield Cup on Oct. 20 in his final start before the Melbourne Cup. During the summer, he was sixth in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Dunaden was 6-1 in the future book Saturday and is part of a very international field for the 24-runner Melbourne Cup. Americain, winner of the 2010 Melbourne Cup, also carries topweight and was the 4-1 favorite as of early Saturday. Trained in France by Alain de Royer-Dupre, Americain was fourth in the Caulfield Cup.

The field includes several names familiar to American racing fans. Jakkalberry, trained in England by Marco Botti, won the American St. Leger on the Arlington Million program at Arlington Park on Aug. 18. He was 13th in the Caulfield Cup. The Melbourne Cup will be run in the United States on Monday evening.

There are two runners formerly based in the U.S.

Sanagas won the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup in 2011 for Graham Motion and raced in California earlier this year. He has struggled this year in Australia, finishing 10th in the Caulfield Cup in his last start.

Unusual Suspect won the 2010 Hollywood Turf Cup for California trainer Barry Abrams, but is winless in 12 subsequent starts in Australia and Dubai. Now 8, Unusual Suspect was fifth in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup in Australia on Oct. 27.