- 14 February 2018
** A$100,000 Prelude at Menangle on Saturday.
** A$750,000 Miracle Mile on Feb 24.
** Potentially $50,000 Free-For-All at Alex Park on March 9 or $30,000 Free-For-All at Addington on March 23.
** $100,000 Easter Cup at Addington on March 31.
By Michael Guerin
The biggest name in New Zealand racing is set for a surprise season swansong --- maybe even two.
Champion pacer Lazarus could start in both Auckland and Christchurch before the end of the season, giving New Zealand fans a rare chance to see the freakish pacer.
Trainer Mark Purdon is reluctant to confirm either of those options until after next week’s A$750,000 Miracle Mile in New South Wales but says they are both on the table as he would love to give Lazarus’s fans a chance to see him in the flesh.
Lazarus has drawn the ace in his A$100,000 Miracle Mile Prelude at Menangle on Saturday night and is a $1.60 favourite to win Sydney’s greatest harness race a week later.
He would then have 13 days before the $50,000 Co-Op Taxis Free-For-All at Alexandra Park, a race his stablemate Smolda started in last season after running a close second in the Miracle Mile.
“Laz has to travel home through Auckland anyway and could well be there around that time so he is definitely a chance to start at Alexandra Park,” says Purdon.
“I wouldn’t make any decision until after the Miracle Mile because he has had a busy summer and done a lot of traveling but I would like people at home to get a chance to see him.
“The way the fans in Perth and Victoria has received him as been wonderful and we know plenty of people back home would love to see him too.” Even if Lazarus doesn’t make it to Alexandra Park for what would be harness racing’s version of a Winx-like occasion, he is almost certain to head to the Easter Cup, fittingly sponsored by Purdon’s All Stars stables, at Addington on March 31.
“That is definitely on his programme at this stage,” confirmed Purdon.
If Lazarus doesn’t race at Alexandra Park he may need a blowout in the Addington free-for-all a week earlier, so he looks likely to have two starts in New Zealand to end his season.
“And then regardless of what happens in the Easter Cup he will be finished for the season and we will aim him at a third New Zealand Cup next term.”
While he is New Zealand’s most loved harness horse Lazarus has only had four starts here this season, the last being his New Zealand Cup win on November 14.
Since then he has won the Inter Dominion and Hunter Cup and if he adds the Miracle Mile will be the only horse to hold Australasia’s four greatest race titles at the same time.
Meanwhile, exactly who drives stablemate and second favourite Heaven Rocks in the Miracle Mile in unclear, with no date set for Natalie Rasmussen’s appeal against her suspension that could cost her the drive.
With Jilliby Kung Fu having accepted his invitation to the Miracle Mile, the other seven spots in the super sprint will be filled from the starters in Saturday’s two preludes.