From Addington to Indiana, it's been a big nine months for Lazarus. Photo: Race Images.
Lazarus has been handed a true visitor’s draw in his first North American race this Saturday (NZ time).
The reigning New Zealand Horse of the Year will make his first appearance in race conditions on American soil in the Dan Patch at Hoosier Park, a 1400m track in Anderson, Indiana.
He has drawn the outside of the mobile in post nine in the race, set to start at 1.30pm NZ time.
Lazarus will be driven by Yannick Gingras and will face off with fellow Kiwi, Bit Of A Legend who has drawn post five.
Bit Of A Legend has garnered a cult following in North America since leaving our shores in 2016, largely due to his feats on half-mile circuits throughout the US and Canada.
Trained by Peter Tritton, Bit Of A Legend recently won his 45th career race and recorded his best ever time of 1.49.4 – a remarkable feat given he is now a nine-year-old.
“We are happy with the draw,” said Tritton. “The danger is on the outside of us but our horse is very sharp at the moment. We’ll just go into this with fingers crossed but it will be interesting!”
Bit Of A Legend has already earned over $425,000 this year and sits ninth on the overall top earners list this year. Overall, he’s earned a staggering $2.2 million in his career.
“We keep saying we are going to retire him to stud but when he keeps earning over $500,000 and he’s racing so well it makes it hard to retire him,” said Tritton.
The Dan Patch rivals also include the newly-minted three-million-dollar earner, McWicked.
Fresh off his gallant second placing last Sunday in the Sam McKee Memorial Pace on Hambletonian Day, trainer Casie Coleman (daughter in law of Tony Herlihy) is expecting another big effort.
“When do I not expect a big performance from him?” Coleman joked. “He has come through his last run well. All seems to be in good shape.”
With his second placing in the Sam McKee, McWicked took his career earnings over the $3 million-dollar mark.
He’s a former Breeders Crown and Dan Patch Award winner at three and has also collected feature wins in the Adios and Hempt.
He has also placed in some of the world’s biggest races such as The Little Brown Jug, North America Cup and the Allerage Open.
And he holds a very special place in his trainer’s heart.
“Even at seven he seems like a stronger horse now. He’s an awesome animal.”
Despite the draw, Lazarus’ driver Yannick Gingras was optimistic.
“The draw is just a starting point. He will be fine,” Gingras told HRNZ.
Emily Gaskin, Marketing Manager of Hoosier Park said the interest around the debut race was huge for the track and casino.
“We're in the midst of celebrating our 25th anniversary of racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, as well as our 25th edition of our $325,000 Dan Patch Stakes. The energy is undeniable!”
“To have a horse like Lazarus making his North American debut in our premier race is a testament to the racing program we have built here in Indiana.”