Sawyers Gully trainer Darryl Thomas believes track specialist Whitfield can overcome a seemingly awkward draw in a class field to make the Maitland regional final (450m) of the Million Dollar Chase on Monday night.
Thomas, who has qualified Gunnedah winner Xerri into MDC semi-finals next month at Wentworth Park, has Whitfield and new arrival Strada in the Maitland heats.
Whitfield is unbeaten in five runs at Maitland, including three at 450m, but he has drawn poorly in box five in heat one, which features class dogs Ebby Infrared (box three), Unison (six) and Aston Sapporo (seven).
With just eight career starts, for five wins, Whitfield faces his toughest test yet.
"Going off his work, he's not out of this grade, but he's got to see if he can compete against them," Thomas said. "He might get his fair crack early because the four [Star Hotel] wants to rail and has terrific speed. Unison in six will hold his line, and so will seven, so he probably gets his chance in the first 50."
Former Victorian Strada came to Thomas last week for the series and she has box eight in heat two. The top four make next week's final, from which three progress to semis.
"They seem to think the wide draw won't worry her and she's probably found the weaker heat," he said. "I don't think it's beyond her but it would be good for her to get a look at the track, get that extra fitness, and I think she'll improve a hell of a lot next week."
Aston Zodiac, for Martins Creek trainers Geoff and Leanne Grimwood, won The Gardens MDC final on Saturday. She led from box seven before edging out Jason Mackay-trained Aston Lee. Robert Vines-trained Seen Around was third to also make semis.