Lazarus becoming fastest pacer in history
by Michael Guerin
The man enjoying the ride behind Kiwi pacing sensation Lazarus says only one horse may be able to stop him becoming the fastest pacer in history.
And that would be Lazarus himself.
Champion driver Yannick Gingras was still buzzing hours after driving Lazarus to a dominant victory in his first North American start, the pair overcoming the outside barrier to lead for the last half of the US$325,000 Dan Patch at Hoosier Park in Indiana on Saturday afternoon (NZ time).
It was Lazarus’s first start in the United States since being sold for an estimated record price of $4million to Taylor Made Stallions.
While he had been the best standardbred in Australasia for two years and qualified in sensational time in the US two weeks ago, any horse traveling to the other side of the world to take on their best comes with question marks.
Lazarus turned those into exclamations marks with his 1:48.8 mile.
The win has already justified his purchase price because with North American breeders now seeing how powerful Lazarus is in full flight he is guaranteed a commercial start to a dual hemisphere stallion career.
That leaves the $3.8million earner with just a couple of major targets that could greatly embellish his reputation — winning at the Breeders Crown in late October and pacing a super fast mile time, close to the world record of 1:46 held by Always B Miki.
But while Gingras says that time may be within Lazraus physical capabilities, the horse himself might need some company.
“A lot of things need to happen to get down to that speed but I think he can do it,” Gingras said.
“I have no doubt with the improvement he has in him he can pace 1:46 and change, maybe even 1:46 flat.
“But to do that you need the right track, the right conditions and the right horses to push you.
“Tonight he would have gone a lot faster if he had needed to and I think he is a horse who will always find more when another horse gets close to him and pushes him.
“So to pace 1:46 he will need all of those things and a horse good enough to push him to that time. Otherwise I don’t think he is a horse who will want to go much faster than he has to to win.
“But anything is possible because he had only had that one qualifier here before tonight’s race so he is obviously going to get better and better.”
Lazraus’s next starts are likely to be in the heat and final of the Canadian Pacing Derby on August 25 and September 1 and yesterday’s win guarantees him a start in the Hoosier Park Derby on September 21.
After that looms the US$500,000 major free-for-all at the rocket fast Red Mile (October 7) in Kentucky, the ideal track to attempt a lightning quick mile.
“Tonight was the perfect starting point. He won, we got to show people how good he is but he wasn’t put under any strain.”
What was it like driving the Kiwi hero?
“It is a real thrill. Driving any great horse is amazing but the novelty around him tonight and the way the race was promoted, and knowing so many people Down Under were watching. It was pretty special.”