Big Year for Karaka 3YO Mile
Sunday's Karaka Million Twilight Meeting will see the third running of the $100,000 Karaka 3YO Mile (1600m) and, for the first time in the race's short history, it has been upgraded to Restricted Listed status.
The race's upgrade in status has come in just its third year and is justified when looking at the three-year-olds that have contested the race and have gone on to achieve black-type success. These include Group 1 winner Time Keeper, Group 2 winner Icepin, American Grade 3 winner Hoofit, stakes winner Hammer Down, and Sgp-1 placed Martial Art.
The race itself has also been won by some talented horses, with the inaugural running claimed by the Group 2 Avondale Guineas and Group 3 Wellington Stakes winner Joey Massino (O'Reilly) and last year won by the NZ 2009/10 Champion 2YO Banchee (Oratorio).
A race that had its first running in 2010, the Karaka 3YO Mile is a three-year-old race for graduates of the 2010 National Yearling Sales. Entry into the event is determined by domestic ratings.
Sunday's race will see 16 three-year-olds battle it out for the prize. They include the $1 million colt, the Group 1 NZ 2000 Guineas winner Rock 'n' Pop (Fastnet Rock x Popsy), the highest priced horse in the field. He beat a classy field in the 2000 Guineas, including New Zealand's Champion 2YO Anabandana (Anabaa), and comes into the race after resuming at Tauranga earlier this month.
Trained by Jason Bridgman and holding a nomination for the New Zealand Derby, Rock 'n' Pop has drawn barrier three with the services of jockey Matthew Cameron.
Trainer Lisa Latta won the Karaka Million with Fort Lincoln (Charge Forward x Belle Toujours) last year and she will be attempting to land the coveted Karaka Million/Karaka 3YO Mile double on Sunday night. One of four Premier Sale graduates in the race, Fort Lincoln will be ridden by Jonathan Riddell who rode Fort Lincoln to victory in the Karaka Million. They will jump from barrier eight.
Banchee powers away to win the 2011 Karaka 3YO Mile
Latta will also saddle Brackenwood (Perfectly Ready x Woodminco) who was unlucky in last year's Karaka Million. He has been racing in consistent form this preparation winning two of his six starts and placing in a further three, including his last appearance at Awapuni. He will jump from barrier 14 with Darryl Bradley in the saddle.
John Sargent has four runners in the Karaka Million and also has a good hand in the Karaka 3YO Mile with Shanghai Bund (Bachelor Duke x Flying Firebird). The gelding showed that he has a good amount of ability when winning easily at Hawke's Bay fresh up in October, and ran well for fourth in the Group 1 NZ 2000 Guineas and Group 1 Levin Classic. He has not had the best of luck in his last two starts, placing in both, but looks right in this. He will be ridden by James McDonald from barrier six.
Lightly raced Ginner Hart (Volksraad Lyford Cay) is capable of producing big finishes in his races. He won his first two starts in impressive fashion before placing in the Group 1 Hawke's Bay Guineas but had no luck in his last start when blocked for a run at a crucial stage. He will be ridden by Leigh Innes from gate five for trainer Alexander Fieldes.
Winning form is good form and the Don Sellwood trained King's Fortune (King's Chapel x Alleyrun) comes into the race with two consecutive victories under his belt, both over a mile. Two starts ago at Matamata the colt romped home by three-and-a-half-lengths and in his last start at Paeroa he led from the 1000 metres and held the field to win by a length. He has drawn the widest barrier of 16 in Sunday's race.
Darci Brahma has two entries in the race, the Vanessa & Wayne Hillis trained Vincent Street (ex It's My Sin) and Matabrahma (ex Western Flame) from Paul Jenkins' yard.
Both runners have notched up winning performances this season and contested the three-year-old race at Ellerslie over 1600 metres on January 14. The pair have drawn barrier nine and ten respectively. Vincent Street will be ridden by top Australian jockey Damien Oliver.
The lightly raced Divine Spice (Postponed x Lady Gesine) has looked impressive in her four starts, breaking her maiden at her second appearance by three lengths and taking a further two seconds coming into Sunday's contest. One of five fillies in the race, she has drawn well in barrier seven for trainer Stephen Marsh and will have the services of Australian jockey Corey Brown.
Graham Richardson is one of four trainers with runners in both the Karaka Million and Karaka 3YO Mile and will saddle last start winner Mosh Pit (Scaredee Cat x Ten Guitars). She didn't get all favours in her first two starts but put that behind her with a good win at Ellerslie. Like stable mate Green Wings in the Karaka Million, she will be ridden by Australian jockey Hugh Bowman from barrier two.
One of six Karaka Select Sale graduates in the $100,000 race, Zah Girl (Keeper x Satin Pillows) put in a big finish at her last start at Ruakaka after getting back in the field and was just a few strides short when running a close third. She used her turn of foot to good effect when winning three starts back, beating fellow NZ Oaks bound Asavant (Zabeel) for trainer Shaun Clotworthy, and will jump from gate four with Michael Walker to ride.
Peter & Dawn Williams have had a highly successful season with Planet Rock (Fastnet Rock) taking the Group 1 1000 Guineas and will saddle Grand Admiral (General Nediym x Admiral's Lass). The gelding has won over the distance before two starts ago at Wingatui and will have his first start at Ellerslie from barrier eight with Sam Spratt aboard.
Molto Grato (Captain Rio x Mood Swing) has had three starts on the Ellerslie track for trainers Robert Priscott & Clayton Chipperfield, his last in the Group 2 Championship Stakes on New Year's Day, and has a tough draw to contend with in barrier 15.
(Captain Rio x Mood Swing) has had three starts on the Ellerslie track for trainers Robert Priscott & Clayton Chipperfield, his last in the Group 2 Championship Stakes on New Year's Day, and has a tough draw to contend with in barrier 15.
One of five Festival Sale entries and the cheapest runner in the race, Classcoroc (Sirocco Class x Torque) was a $5,000 purchase by her trainer Graeme Hughes and has placed on the Ellerslie track and at the 1600 metre trip. She has drawn barrier 12 with Noel Harris to ride.
A $100,000 purchase by KVM Breeding Partnership from the Premier Sale, Captain Francis (Jet Spur x Quite Astute) is trained by Jeff Lynds and has only had three starts on the track. He ran on well at his last start after being buried back on the rail and has drawn the ace barrier. The Brent Wells trained Sighlent Spur (Rusty Spur x Sigh) (FOALED AT BRIGHTHILL FARM) will make his Ellerslie and 1600 metre debut from barrier 13.
2012 Karaka 3YO Mile Summary
- 2012 has seen the race upgraded to Restricted Listed Status.
- Lisa Latta is the only trainer with two entries in the race and she will saddle Fort Lincoln who won the Karaka Million last year.
- There are four trainers that have runners in both the Karaka Million and Karaka 3YO Mile: John Sargent, Graham Richardson, Jason Bridgman and Stephen Marsh.
- There are three Karaka vendors that have confirmed runners in the Karaka Million and Karaka 3YO Mile: Bluegables Farm, Oxford Thoroughbreds and Trelawney Stud.
- The race will see five graduates from the Karaka Premier Sale, six from the Select Sale and five from the Festival Sale contest the $100,000 prize.
- Of the current confirmed jockeys for the meeting, nine have rides in the Karaka Million and Karaka 3YO Mile thus far.
- Jockeys Sam Spratt (2010) and James McDonald (2011) have both won the race and are engaged to ride in Sunday night's race.
Taking place on Sunday night at 6:13pm from Ellerslie racecourse - the eve of the Karaka Premier Sale - this year marks the third running of the $100,000 race.
To view the final field for the Karaka 3YO Mile and Karaka Million, click here
The Karaka Million Twilight Meeting will be held at Ellerslie Racecourse this Sunday 29 January from 5pm. For tickets visit