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Malaguerra wins Australia Stakes

Malaguerra has powered his way to victory in the Group Two Australia Stakes, equalling a long-standing record for the Moonee Valley 1200 metres.

Trained by Peter Gelagotis, Malaguerra ($4.20) came with a strong run in the straight and held off favourite Black Heart Bart ($2.50) by two lengths in 1:09.29 seconds, the same time as Miss Andretti ran to win the 2006 Manikato Stakes.

Early leader Sirbible ($31) finished third in Friday night’s feature for veteran jockey Darren Gauci who will retire from the saddle on Saturday week.

Malaguerra’s jockey Ben Melham said his initial concerns about barrier nine had been allayed by the earlier pattern of racing on the night.

“He is a favourite of mine,” Melham said.

“The barrier was a concern but as the night wore on I was happy to see them working off the fence.”

Gelagotis said Malaguerra would now head to the Group One 1400 metre features at Caulfield, the C F Orr Stakes and Futurity Stakes.

Those races are also the plan for Black Heart Bart and his fourth-placed Darren Weir-trained stablemate Palentino.

Malaguerra was trained by Lee and Anthony Freedman to win the BTC Cup last winter but his owner took him away from the high profile stable and sent him to Gelagotis at Moe.

He has now had four starts for the stable for two wins including the Group One Darley Classic at Flemington in November.

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