By Michael Guerin
The man behind Kiwi pacing hero Lazarus was willing to offer reasons but not excuses after his surprise defeat in today’s C$615,000 Canadian Pacing Derby in Toronto.
The multi million dollar stallion wowed harness racing fans worldwide when he won his North American debut three weeks ago but one of the horses he conquered that night, McWicked, turned the tables today.
After working to the lead in the middle stages Lazarus couldn’t match McWicked’s home stretch sprint and was beaten at the 150m mark before fighting bravely to hold second.
He looked to perform at least a length below his first up winning level but his Hall Of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter was at pains to praise the winner before offering any reasons for Lazarus’s defeat.
“McWicked is a very good horse and it is no shame to be beaten by him,” said Takter.
Takter also rated Lazarus’s effort slightly below his win in the Dan Patch in Indiana three weeks ago and believes the lack of heats last week for today’s race didn’t help.
“I trained him a fast mile last week at home but that is not the same as having a race, especially with an older horse like him.
“So missing an elimination last week didn’t help and I honestly think it will still take him another two or three races up here learning how we race to get used to it.
“Then I think we will see the best of him but considering it was only his second start in this part of the world he was still very good.
“Yannick (Gingras, driver) said he still felt like a winner at the top of the straight but we are not complaining. McWicked was too good tonight.”
Takter said Lazarus would undergo a precautionary veterinary check as any horse of his class would in the next few days to ensure he did not pick up a virus travelling from his stables in New Jersey to Canada.
Lazarus will now be aimed at the US$175,000 Hoosier Park Derby in Indiana on September 21.