Day At The Track

Last season's 3yo champion filly retired

10:23 PM 22 Mar 2010 NZDT
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Lauraella Lauraella
Lauraella - The 2008 2YO Diamond Harness Jewels winner.
Trish Dunnell Photo

The decade-long curse of the Northern Oaks has claimed another victim with the retirement of Lauraella. Last season's champion 3-year-old filly has become one of New Zealand's most commercial broodmares after her retirement this week because of injury.

While South Auckland trainer Geoff Small believes the multiple group one winner could have come back from leg problems to race next season but he says the glamour mare has nothing left to prove.

"She is already a great racehorse and she is worth so much as a broodmare you have to weigh up the risks and time used up putting her back in training, versus what she is worth at stud," said Small.

"If you look at it that way it is an easy decision, even though I would have loved to have had her back."

The 4yo Christian Cullen mare retires as the winner of 10 of 25 starts, with $650,000 in stakes but those statistics don't tell the real story of her career.

She won only once at 2 - but it was the Harness Jewels - and then dominated her 3-year-old season like few before her.

She won nine of 12 starts in this country, including the Pascoes Northern Oaks, NZ Oaks, Sales Series Pace, Ladyship Stakes and Nevele R Fillies Final.

"She would be the best filly I have trained because she was tough, more like a colt," said Small.

Lauraella also has the bonus of being a broodmare owner's dream. She is by Christian Cullen from the famous Black Watch family, has the size so important to broodmares and her Karaka sales-topping brother, The Muskeg Express, won a $40,000 race on debut just last Friday.

Lauraella's retirement continues an amazing trend in the past decade, in which almost all winners of the Pascoes Northern Oaks have failed to come back to their best the next season, most being retired before they turned 5.

The obvious exception is 2004 winner Foreal, who went on to be a top open-class mare.

However, other recent Oaks winners are Lizzie Maguire, Running On Faith, Tosti Girl, Dudinka's Star, English Elegance and even the great Elect To Live, who went on to beat the colts in the Australian Derby.

Remarkably, none of those fillies were able to win significant races after their 3-year-old season.

The previous decade was much kinder to the Oaks winners though, with Tupelo Rose, Under Cover Lover, Scuse Me and Tigerish all having great careers as older horses, while other Oaks winners of that decade Iman, Paula Michelle and OK Rock became good broodmares.

With Lauraella now retired the 4-year-old mares' division of the Harness Jewels on June 5 becomes far more open, with stablemates Telemecanique and Crystal Star leading the rankings.

* Last season's champion pacing filly Lauraella has been retired.

* That continues a horror run for Northern Oaks winners as older mares in the past decade.

* Lauraella will be one of our most commercial young broodmares.


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