Black Heart Bart’s return to racing goes up a notch at Caulfield this Saturday, when he lines up in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clark Stakes (1400m).
The veteran galloper produced an encouraging performance in last month’s Memsie Stakes (1400m), where he was beaten four lengths by stablemate Scales Of Justice.
It was the gelding’s first run since last year’s Toorak Handicap, where he was temporarily retired from racing.
The nine-year-old will carry the equal topweight of 58kg along with Godolphin galloper Best Of Days in the $500,000 event as he chases his sixth Group 1 win.
Smith said he expected further improvement from Black Heart Bart second-up.
“He came through that race (Memsie Stakes) well,” he told TABradio.
“I thought it was a pass mark.
“The horse is in good condition…he’s a little bit further advanced now.”
Should Black Heart Bart finish in the first half of the field on Saturday, Smith said he would target the Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m) at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate day.
“If he finishes in the top six or seven, he will have a hard couple of weeks in between that race at Moonee Valley,” he said.
“His time isn’t far away.
“That’s where we think he’s at.
“If he was to go very well in that, he might even come home.”
Begood Toya Mother heads up TABtouch’s market for the Sir Rupert Clark Stakes at $3.20, ahead of Amphitrite ($7.50) and So Si Bon ($8).
Smith’s Victorian stable received a further boost earlier this month in the form of former Japanese galloper Ambitious.
Ambitious was a multiple Group winner in Japan before he made his way to Anthony Freedman’s Victorian stable.
The son of Deep Impact is yet to win in his 10 Australian starts, but was placed in last year’s Group 1 Tancred Stakes (2400m).
Smith said keeping the stallion’s mind on racing shaped as his biggest battle in training the horse, given connections are unlikely to geld the horse.
“Structurally he looks good,” he said.
“We just had to make him socialise a bit more instead of having his mind on other things.
“We’re working on that and looking at him we think that’s his biggest problem.
“We’re hoping the heavy sand and me riding him changes his mind to be a racehorse and not a stallion.”
Saturday’s Rupert Clark Stakes jumps at 2.15pm.