Tonopah on learning curve in Rough Habit
18:42 AEST Thu May 9 2013

Lightly raced Tonopah will add an international flavour to Saturday's Rough Habit Plate at Eagle Farm.

Tonopah was bought as a weanling in Kentucky by mining entrepreneur Paul Fudge, founder of Waratah Thoroughbreds, who has spread his racing interests among several trainers including Craig Ritchie.

"He's pretty professional for a lightly raced horse," Ritchie said.

"Although he didn't beat much at Kembla Grange last start he couldn't have done much more and being a colt with his bloodlines I decided to bring him up here and have a go."

Ritchie acknowledges Tonopah, named after a mining town midway between the United States gambling meccas Las Vegas and Reno, is on a steep learning curve.

"Because he was bred to northern hemisphere time he's really six months younger than the rest," he said.

"I like him a lot as a racehorse. He only does what he has to but he's making good progress."

Ritchie says Tonopah's relaxed attitude makes him an attractive staying prospect.

"He's a lovely kind horse for a colt and he's been trained with the Queensland Derby in mind so the 2100 metres in the Rough Habit on Saturday shouldn't be a problem at all," he said.

"In terms of ability it's hard to get a real gauge until they're eyeballed by something and this will be a good test for him.

"He's definitely improved since his Kembla run and hopefully he can keep taking the next step."

The colt shares the fourth line of betting in the Rough Habit at $11 behind the $2.60 favourite Survived who is aiming to give trainer John Bary his second win in the race after The Hombre won in 2010.

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