Victoria Derby aspirations for Our Desert Warrior took a hit at Warwick Farm on Wednesday when he missed a place as a short-priced favourite.
The Gai Waterhouse-trained colt, a brother to her multiple Group One winner Desert War, was sent out at $1.45 in the Super Saver Handicap (1600m) after a maiden win at the provincials.
But after racing on the speed he could only manage fourth to the Paul Messara-trained Rowie who was dropping back from stakes company.
Our Desert Warrior was at $11 with TAB fixed odds for the Victoria Derby (2500m) prior to Wednesday's race but drifted to $26 after the defeat with plans seemingly up in the air.
"He's just very green. We know he's got loads of talent but he makes too many mistakes at the moment," Waterhouse's stable representative Mark Newnham said.
"Gai will weigh that up now (a trip to Melbourne). We've got to get him racing in a straight line first."
Jockey Nash Rawiller said Our Desert Warrior was reluctant to travel in the run and raced well below expectations, but he reported hearing a gurgling sound from the colt on pulling up after the race.
Racing NSW's veterinarian Dr Craig Suann also reported an intermittent gurgling sound when the three-year-old was returning to the mounting yard.
Stewards ordered Our Desert Warrior be scoped.
Rowie had raced in the Ming Dynasty Quality and Gloaming Stakes at his past two outings and took advantage of the good tempo up front to sprint through along the inside and score a half-length win over the John O'Shea-trained Twisted Emotions.
"I was a little bit worried that Rowie had lost touch with them a little bit but they were having a few battles up front," Messara's foreman Barry Wintle said.
"It was a good effort."
Twisted Emotions was also in line for a trip to Melbourne for the Derby but O'Shea said those plans had now been shelved.
"James (McDonald) just felt that mentally he wasn't ready for it yet and I think that's a fair assessment," O'Shea said.
"We'll probably give him one more run in Sydney and hopefully he can go out a winner and then look to attack the autumn."
The Craig Carmody-trained Green Tracer, a brother to last Saturday's Premiere Stakes winner Red Tracer, also impressed at the meeting with a narrow but determined first-up victory.