Story by Mark Smith, Breednet

Winner of the Listed Gosford Guineas and Group III Hawkesbury Guineas and most recently second in the Inglis 3yo Guineas at Scone, the Epaulette gelding Military Zone earned a free ticket for the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap with a fast-finishing win in Saturday’s Group III Fred Best Classic (1400m) at Eagle Farm.

The Peter and Paul Snowden-trained 3yo stormed home under James McDonald to defeat held Baccarat Baby (Casino Prince) by a length with Krone (Eurozone) a head back in third.

The Triple Crown colour-bearer advances his record to 5 wins and 1 second from 10 starts with earnings of $463,530.

Immediately after the race, Peter Snowden would not commit to a start in the Stradbroke.

“It’s way too early to say whether or not he’ll run in the Stradbroke,” Snowden told AAP.

“He’s a really nice horse. I’ve always liked this bloke and he’s getting better with racing but I reckon he’s another prep away.

“He’s probably a spring or autumn horse not so much now. There’s a long, hard thinking process to go through now and hopefully, we make the right call.

“I just don’t want to bust the horse. It’s always in the back of your mind that one run too many could be the undoing of them rather than the making of them.

“I’ll give myself an uppercut if he runs (in the Stradbroke) and runs poorly because he doesn’t deserve that. I’ll let the dust settle and make a decision in a week’s time.”

Purchased by Paul Willets for $140,000 at the Inglis Great Southern Weanling Sale, Military Zone made the same amount when Triple Crown Syndications sourced him out of the Three Bridges draft at the 2017 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale.

Bred by Two Bays Farm, Military Zone is a three-quarter brother to Happy Forever, a stakes-winner in Macau.

He is the second foal of the Street Sense (USA) mare Loading Zone who is a half-sister to the Listed Gold Coast Bracelet winner Super Lacuna (Grand Lodge) and to Randwick winner Double Ranga the dam of Group II Sweet Embrace Stakes winner Scarlett Rain (Manhattan Rain).

Purchased for just $8,000 at the 2013 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale, Loading Zone has a yearling colt by Kermadec, which was purchased by Triple Crown for $280,000 at the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale and a weanling filly by Manhattan Rain. She was covered by Russian Revolution last spring.

Epaulette (Commands) earned an increase to $27,500 at Darley Stud last spring where he covered 88 mares and will stand at the same fee in 2019.

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