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The final field for the $1 million Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) (Res.L) - New Zealand's richest race -
has been finalised and the line-up is set to make this year's running one of the most exciting yet.
A two-year-old race for graduates of the 2011 National Yearling Sales Series, the Karaka Million is limited to a maximum of 14 runners with the Order of Entry based on prize money earned.
Topping the Karaka Million Order of Entry since her debut win in early December, the John Sadler trained Sell In May (NZ) (Starcraft x Savannah Rain) is one of two Australian-trained entries in the race.
She was impressive when winning her debut, a 2YO fillies race at Flemington, running the last 600
metres in 33.32 seconds. She has drawn barrier 11 in the Karaka Million and will be ridden by Australian jockey Ben Melham.
An impressive winner of the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes on New Year's Day, the Jason Bridgman trained Warhorse (NZ) (General Nediym x Rathlin Island) will have the services of jockey Matt Cameron on Sunday night. Raced by Mr Tang Weng Fei who races Singapore star Better Than, the colt has drawn barrier 15 in the million dollar race.
A horse that has not been seen since the Wentwood Grange Stakes in early December, Silver City (Nothing To Loose x She's Just Dreamy) was the early leader on the Order of Entry after winning his debut at Ruakaka and the Listed Wellesley Stakes at his next start. He is one of three Stephen McKee trained runners in the race, and will be ridden by Leith Innes from barrier eight. McKee will also saddle Freedom (NZ) (O'Reilly x Captivate) who won his debut impressively at Ellerslie on Boxing Day before running home from last to claim third place in a determined effort on January 14 on the same track.
The colt will be ridden by Sam Spratt from barrier 10. McKee's final entry is Dreamcoat (NZ) (Coats Choice x Eloquent Dancer), the cheapest purchase in the line-up at a bargain $5,000 from the Festival Sale. Also a winner on the Ellerslie track in early December, the filly looks to prefer good ground and all going to plan will have a good chance from barrier six with Michael Coleman aboard.
The top-priced two-year-old in the current Karaka Million starters is Ockham's Razor (NZ) (Any Suggestion x Shadow Ray), a $170,000 purchase by Bahen Bloodstock and the second to be making the trip from Australia. Trained by Anthony Freedman, and accompanied to New Zealand by his brother Lee, the colt ran a tough second on debut in the Thomas North Plate at Caulfield, and will be ridden by big race rider Craig Williams from barrier 13.
Leading New Zealand trainer John Sargent has the biggest hand in the race with four runners in the final field. Sargent has gone close to winning the race with Banchee running third in 2010 and Super Easy running fourth last year and hopes to do better with some good chances this year. His entries are headed by the $70,000 filly Marechal (NZ) (General Nediym x Zalika).
One of two two-year-olds in the field by General Nediym, Marechal won her second start at Otaki before running a good fourth in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes behind Warhorse. She has drawn barrier nine in the race and will be ridden by Lisa Allpress. Sargent will also saddle the $62,500 gelding Taoist Master (NZ) (Any Suggestion x Skara Brae) who created quite an impression when putting in a dominant performance to win on debut at Trentham in early December. He too looks a horse that enjoys the firmer ground and will have the services of jockey Jonathan Riddell on Sunday from barrier three.
Gary Mudgway purchased Choice Bro (Choisir x Ladidi) and stable mate Deakes (Shaft x Long Walk), in conjunction with John Sargent at the Karaka Select Sale and both of the horses have made the Karaka Million final field. Choice Bro won at Ellerslie at his last start in late December, and Deakes comes into the race after running in Saturday's Group 2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes. They will be ridden by James McDonald from barrier four and David Walsh from gate one respectively.
Million in 2011Green WingsA late entry into the top of the Order of Entry, Hogwarts Express (NZ) (Elusive City x Night Dancer) broke her maiden on January 12 at Te Rapa before running a brave third in the Group 2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes, propelling her into the Karaka Million field. Trained by Stephen Marsh, she is one of five fillies in the field, a Festival Sale entry, and the second cheapest at $14,000, and will be ridden by Michael Walker from gate seven.
Another winner at Ellerslie, Silk Pins (NZ) (Pins x Silk Ending) was impressive when winning her debut where she beat some classy opposition including fellow runner Warhorse and stakes winner Travino. She didn't get all the favours when unplaced in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes but has had a winning trial coming into the race. She will be ridden by Hugh Bowman from barrier 14 for Keith and Brendon Hawtin.
The Kevin Hughes trained Mai Guru (NZ) (Ishiguru x Everglow) adds an historic element to the field. He is the first horse in a Karaka Million field to have been purchased at the Ready to Run Sale, having been pinhooked from the National Yearling Sales. He won his last start impressively at Woodville over 1100 metres and has drawn barrier two with top Australian jockey Damien Oliver to ride. John Sargent trains the Karaka Million first ballot Magic Shaft (Shaft x Adaptable Lass). The gelding has only had two starts on the track for two placings, the last coming at Te Rapa where he ran second to Karaka Million starter Hogwarts Express.
Last year's Karaka Million winning trainer Lisa Latta and owner Lincoln Farms will saddle the race's second emergency Lady de Chine (Fastnet Rock x Crepe de Chine), a $250,000 yearling who won her last start at Taranaki in impressive fashion.
Karaka Million 2012 Summary
The $1 million Karaka Million is the richest race in New Zealand, and is restricted to graduates of the 2011 National Yearling Sales Series.
John Sargent is the trainer with the most starters with four and one emergency, while Stephen McKee has three taking their place in the line-up.
The only Karaka Million winning sire with progeny in the race is General Nediym with two chances to sire another Karaka Million winner in 2012 (Warhorse & Marechal). He sired the 2010 winner Sister Havana.
There are three Karaka vendors with multiple entries in the race: Haunui Farm (Freedom and Hogwarts Express), Trelawney Stud (Warhorse and Silk Pins) and Ainsley Downs Stud (Taoist Master and Choice Bro). Ainsley Downs offered just nine yearlings at Karaka 2011. The winning vendor will receive a $10,000 bonus.
Jockey Jonathan Riddell won the Karaka Million last year and will have a chance to go back-to-back with Taoist Master in 2012.
Sister Havana is the only filly to have won the Karaka Million in 2010. She is also the only Australian-trained entry to win the race.
The Karaka Million will see six graduates from the Premier Sale, four from the Select Sale and four from the Festival Sale.
Taking place on Sunday night at 7:17pm from Ellerslie racecourse - the eve of the Karaka Premier Sale - this year is the fifth running of the million dollar race.
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