It will be a case of “we are the champions” if young Anakie trainer Matthew Lanigan’s Keep It Blue wins the Lightning Frank Derby final (450m) at Warrnambool on Thursday night.
Keep It Blue – aka “Mercury” – gets his sobriquet from Queen’s late legendary frontman Freddie Mercury.
Ironically, the 21-month-old rising star is hitting the high notes but faces his biggest stage in the $7500-to-the-winner event.
“I threw him into the deep end in last week’s heats and I was really proud of his run,” Lanigan said.
WATCH: Keep It Blue (1) scores an all-the-way Lightning Frank Derby heat win in a tidy 25.16sec at Warrnambool last week.
The superbly bred Keep It Blue (Apr ’19 Fernando Bale x Art Noveau) notched his fourth win from eight starts, clocking a respectable 25.16sec heat win. And if he wins the final, it will be his third successive win in three weeks at Warrnambool.
However, Lanigan is concerned about two things: calibre of the field; and box six.
“He goes a little better when drawn wide, but there’s plenty of pace around him… The run to the first corner will be very important,” he said. “He’s going to need some luck as it’s a great field… It’s a real learning curve and good exposure to race against some top dogs around his age.”
But it’s worth recalling, Keep It Blue won from Box 6 at Sandown in 29.95sec on December 20.
Lanigan rates fastest heat winner Ferdinand Boy (Box 8) and Blackpool Flash (Box 5) as the testing material. Ferdinand Boy, who has won 11 races from 21 starts – including seven of his past nine – recorded 24.96sec last week, while Blackpool Flash, who registered a 25.10sec heat win, has won 17 races from 26 starts – including his past nine. Three weeks ago, he took out the Group 3 Birthday Cup (405m) at Mandurah in WA.
However, Lanigan takes solace that Keep It Blue’s best asset is his strength. And another plus, according to Lanigan, is Keep It Blue has made a better start to his career than Weblec Eagle, who he guided to victory in the 2019 G1 Sale Cup (650m).
“Weblec Eagle lacked early speed, but I can only hope Keep It Blue ends up half as good,” Lanigan said. “He’s still the ‘king’ of my kennels.”
Owned by the Champagne Ptn syndicate, comprising Angela Langton and her mother Susanne Smith, Keep It Blue is also chasing a $1000 VicGreys bonus and a free ‘straw’ to stud dog Lightning Frank.
The Lightning Frank Derby is Race 8 at 7.31pm.
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