Lazarus makes US debut
By Michael Guerin
Lazarus’s debut in North America looks set to be fast-tracked after the Kiwi champion dazzled in his first public outing there.
The two-time New Zealand Cup winner paced a 1:48.6 mile in a qualifier (trial) at The Meadowlands in New Jersey on Saturday morning (US time), beating outstanding three-year-old Lather On, winner of the North America Cup.
Purchased out of New Zealand for around $4million just a few months ago Lazarus is now trained by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter with the aim of winning a major North American race and pacing a sub 1:47 mile to make him a dual hemisphere stallion prospect.
Saturday’s performance was a hugely positive step in that direction.
It proved Lazarus is fit and healthy and handling his new training regime as Takter tries to sharpen him up for the almost exclusively diet mile racing in North America.
And importantly Lazarus showed gate speed in the trial, leading from the ace early before trailing and the powering past Lather On at the 400m mark and holding him easily at the line.
“I couldn’t be any happier with him,” driver Yannick Gingras “told local media. “He’s very easy on himself and had tons of pace.”
Lazarus’s gate speed, or perceived lack of it, was one of the concerns for the $3.6million earner when he headed to the States as it will be incredibly hard to win a top level free-for-all in North America coming from back in the field.
But the way he left the mobile, cruised past a serious horse and paced one of the fastest qualifying times in history suggests he is already set to pace 1:48 when needed, probably faster.
When Lazarus left New Zealand the original targets were races at the Red Mile early in October, where the track is condusive to a very fast time, and the Breeders Crown at Pocono on October 27.
But he looks way more advanced than anybody expected and Takter has indicated a late entry fee could be paid for Lazarus to contest the US$300,000 Dan Patch at Hoosier Park in Indiana on August 10.
His next aim could then be the Canadian Pacing Derby (open to older horses) on September 1, with heats a week earlier.
If he holds together and doesn’t get struck down by the illness so many imported horses are susceptible to because of their exposure to different viruses than they are used to Down Under, Lazarus looks set for a longer and more profitable North American campaign than many would have imagined.