No long goodbye
By Michael Guerin
There will be no long goodbye for New Zealand’s best horse and our champion trainer.
Because Mark Purdon, the man who helped turn Lazarus in a harness racing hero, admits he may not even see him again before he is exported to the United States.
Lazarus was sold to US-based owners Taylor Made Stallions on the weekend and will have a short race career there later this year in an attempt to win a major race or pace a super fast mile, either of which would add to his commercial stallion appeal in the Northern Hemisphere.
That means he won’t race again in New Zealand and therefore Purdon may not get to give him a farewell pat as Lazarus is undergoing a month of aqua training in the Waikato and is tentatively booked to fly to the US on May 24.
“If that is the case we won’t be north with the Jewels team by them so I won’t get a chance to see him before he goes,” says Purdon.
“It will be sad not having him come back to the stable for next season because he is a beautiful horse and a real pleasure to have around the place.
“But I understand the new owners motivations. He probably has nothing left to prove down here whereas if he can go up there and get a really quick mile time it would really help his stallion career in North America.” While no trainer has been confirmed for Lazarus it is believed leading horsemen Jimmy Takter and Ron Burke are in the running to take over his career.
Lazarus’s departure caps an unbelievable series of elite level horses leaving the All Stars stable’s care in the last year -- with Smolda, Vincent, Waikiki Beach and Heaven Rocks also now gone.
But that still leaves him with two obvious contenders for this year’s New Zealand Cup and one smokey.
“Ultimate Machete and Dream About Me are the two big ones who both have open class form at that level.
“Ultimate Machete is a logical New Zealand Cup horse, it is the ideal race for him while Dream About Me is an Auckland Cup winner and we will just have to keep her feet sound.
“And while we have a few other who could make it to the Cup, Thefixer is one who we definitely have it in mind for.”
Purdon and training partner Natalie Rasmussen suffered another, far less significant, blow yesterday when they withdrew Luby Lou from the Jewels three-year-old trot.
The NZ Derby winner has been struggling with a cut on her leg after losing a fight with a fence.
“The cut is in a spot where there is movement so it is not healing as quickly as we would like,” said Purdon.
“So she will miss the Jewels, which is a real shame but she could still make it to the Breeders Crown in August.”
Defending champion Paramount King was also withdrawn from that division of the Jewels yesterday while there must be some doubt over Aussie star Wobelee coming after he was surprisingly beaten at Kilmore on Friday night.