Railway Stakes winner Luckygray is on track for a big return in Saturday week's $125,000 D'Orsogna Roma Cup (1200m) after an impressive trial win at Belmont Park yesterday.
With jockey Patrick Carbery filling in for the injured Shaun O'Donnell, Luckygray settled back in the six-horse trial and came down the outside to beat Grand Nirvana by two lengths.
Trainer Gino Poletti was thrilled with the display by Luckygray, who covered the 1000m in a solid 1min. 0.32sec.
"Some of the others were out there for an easier time but my horse did what I wanted him to do," Poletti said.
"I was very happy with that and he's come back better than ever.
"It's always good to have these horses come back and still be at their best.
"He's more mature and he needs to be now he's up in the weights. He'll have the two or three runs and then I'll put him out again."
Luckygray is a chance of starting in the $80,000 Belmont Sprint (1400m) on June 9, depending on the weight he receives.
He will be spelled after the $125,000 weight-for-age Hyperion Stakes (1600m) on June 23.
The Bradbury's Luck four-year-old was second past the post behind He's Remarkable in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) last November but won the race on protest.
His Railway Stakes-winning rider O'Donnell will visit a specialist tomorrow to determine whether he is able to return at Belmont on Saturday from injury.
O'Donnell suffered bruised ribs when he fell from Success Park at Belmont last Wednesday.
"It's still partially sore in the rib area but it's improved 100 per cent since Friday," O'Donnell said.
"I'm hoping I get cleared for Saturday."
Grand Nirvana showed he was also on track for Saturday week's Roma Cup (1200m) with a solid performance after racing outside of the leader, third placegetter Colour Correct.
Trainer Fred Kersley confirmed Steven Parnham was booked for his first race ride on Grand Nirvana, who won the Roma Cup in 2009 and last year.
Parnham rode Grand Nirvana for the first time in the trial.
"I thought he ran a fair trial," Kersley said. "It's fair to say Luckygray had a fair bit on him. He was very impressive.
"He had two or three weeks off after the two runs in Melbourne and will race first-up in the Roma."
Grand Nirvana ran 16th in the Oakleigh Plate (1100m) in February and 19th in the Newmarket Handicap (1200m) in March.
Last season's star three-year-old Dreamaway was switched to another 1000m trial yesterday. She settled well back and ran on under a quiet ride from Paul Harvey when fourth behind Born To Excel.
·X-rays have cleared apprentice Rayce Nielsen of any fractures to a rib and he is hopeful of returning to the saddle this weekend.
Nielsen suffered the injury at trackwork 13 days ago. "It's still a bit sore but other than that the recovery is going well and I'm hoping to be cleared for Saturday," he said.