Luckless Keano drawn to win

There have been plenty of three-year-olds sharing the spotlight in 2009 such as the recuperating Whobegotyou, the Hong Kong-bound Fair Trade, the luckless Fravashi and the emerging Nicconi. But for trainer Danny O'Brien, another colt — Keano — stands out from the rest.

"I think he's the best three-year-old in the country and I just can't wait for the day that he gets to show it," the Flemington trainer said yesterday. "He probably should be unbeaten but has been bailed up a few times with nowhere to go."

Tomorrow, Keano takes another step towards next month's group 1 Cadbury Guineas when he tackles the group 2 Alister Clark Stakes over 1600 metres at Moonee Valley.

Normally a trainer would rue an outside barrier in such a feature race, but O'Brien was upbeat when Keano drew the outside barrier in the field of 10 for the $181,000 event.

"There'll be no traffic to run into out there," he said. "I'd rather cover ground than see him get locked in again so you'd think he'll have every chance to show how good he is.

"It's certainly been frustrating watching what has happened to him. I'm almost at my wit's end."

O'Brien purchased Keano for $450,000 at the Sydney Easter yearling sales. The colt is by Pins, who won the 2000 Alister Clark Stakes on his way to securing the three-year-old triple crown, while his dam O'Really is a daughter of the champion Courtza.

Keano was luckless when he debuted in the spring for a third at Moonee Valley before winning at that track in November. He then went to Caulfield and never got a crack at them behind Brunello before scoring a comfortable win at Flemington before Christmas.

He then resumed after a six-week break with another luckless run in the group 3 Hayes Stakes at Flemington when again blocked for room.

He remains firm at around $12 for the Guineas amid speculation that a few of the three-year-olds above him will not make it to the $750,000 classic at Flemington on March 7.

He was rated the $3.40 favourite overnight to win the Alister Clark.

Caulfield Guineas winner Whobegotyou is struggling to be ready for the 1600-metre race after a foot abscess while the unbeaten Fair Trade is believed to have been sold to Hong Kong and is likely to have left Australia by the time the Guineas is run.

By Andrew Eddy

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Photo by Age photographer John Donegan

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