Day At The Track

Is a debate worth having? Lazarus v Tiger

02:43 PM 05 Feb 2019 NZDT
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Lazarus and Mark Purdon,Harness racing
Lazarus after winning the Interdominion Final
Ashlea Brennan Photography

It might be grist for the mill over a few frothies – but comparing the greats of different eras, particularly harness racing, is a notoriously difficult business.

Tiger Tara’s incredible improvement this season is nothing short of extraordinary, and a credit to the attention and professionalism of Kevin Pizzutto and his team. 

That the sport’s paid promoters are making much of Tiger Tara’s utter dominance, particularly with a Miracle Mile still ahead, is both understandable and serviceable.  Tiger Tara is, without question, the supreme pacer of the current time – by a very long margin.

His shredding of Saturday night’s Hunter Cup field spoke for itself.  But to extrapolate the performance and compare it favourably to the deeds of Tiger Tara’s greatest rival Lazarus, as some did, is perhaps best left in the heady moments of post-race.

Whenever the two met on the big stage, history shows the ledger fell clearly in favor of the now-retired Lazarus

Whether Tiger Tara’s improvement has been to the extent that the tables would now be turned is a tantalising racing conundrum that can never be answered.

Federer v Sampras; Woods v Nicklaus; Michael Jordan v LeBron James. The debates are endless. In the equine world, the academics have extended the analysis of the Winx v Black Caviar rivalry to heart-beat, lung capacity and length of stride!

But there are some salient points to consider around the relative quality of Saturday night’s Hunter Cup field that provide some context for comparing these two greats of harness racing. 

Lazarus winning the New Zealand Cup

Lazarus was among 9 Group 1 winning performers prior to the 2018 Hunter Cup – who’d won a combined $13,264,003

They had won 40 Group 1 races between them.

Saturday night’s field had 6 Group One winners for a combined total of $5,512,551 in earnings.

They had won 14 Group 1 races between them. 

Both Lazarus and Tiger Tara have met on 10 occasions, with Lazarus beating home Tiger Tara in 7 of those races.

Let us look at both the 2018 and 2019 Hunter Cup fields that Lazarus and Tiger Tara started in and you be the judge.

Please note - These statistics are taken prior to the time each race was run.

Lazarus winning the Hunter Cup

Hunter Cup field 2018 - Lazarus

1st - Lazarus - $3,663,438 - 45 starts, 35 wins, 5 seconds and 1 third. (Group 1 wins - 14 )

2nd - Soho Tribeca - $957,674 - 51 starts, 19 wins, 16 seconds and 5 thirds. (Group 1 wins - 3)

3rd - Heaven Rocks - $419,818 - 25 starts, 12 wins, 3 seconds and 2 thirds. (Group 1 wins - 4)

4th - Lennytheshark - $2,937,585 - 77 starts, 39 wins, 18 seconds and 12 thirds. (Group 1 wins - 7)

5th - Ameretto - $465,919 - 69 starts - 25 wins, 15 seconds and 3 thirds. 

6th - Tiger Tara - $1,265,410 - 81 starts, 26 wins, 18 seconds and 12 thirds. (Group 1 wins - 3) All in New Zealand

7th - San Carlo - $214,048 - 29 starts, 21 wins and 4 thirds 

8th - Moonrock - $181,222 - 36 starts, 12 wins, 5 seconds and 5 thirds.

9th - Bling It On - $1,647,956 - 83 starts, 45 wins, 12 seconds and 8 thirds. (Group 1 wins - 5)

10th - Yayas Hot Spot - $443,492 - 81 starts, 23 wins, 18 seconds and 10 thirds. 

11th - Messini - $682,961 - 88 starts, 25 wins, 14 seconds and 12 thirds. (Group 1 wins - 2)

12th - Shadow Sax - $382,480 - 26 starts, 17 wins, 4 seconds and 3 thirds. (Group 1 wins - 2)

Total earnings on the day before the 2018 Hunter Cup was $13,264,003

Here is the 2018 Hunter Cup

Tiger Tara after winning the Interdominion Final

Hunter Cup field 2019 - Tiger Tara

1st - Tiger Tara - $1,985,315 - 101 starts, 34 wins, 24 seconds and 13 thirds. (Group 1 wins - 6)

2nd - Our Uncle Sam - $250,126 - 56 starts, 15 wins, 9 seconds and 5 thirds. 

3rd - San Carlo - $355,998 - 43 starts, 25 wins, 3 seconds and 5 thirds.

4th - Flaming Flutter - $746,635 - 102 starts, 23 wins, 19 seconds and 19 thirds. (Group 1 wins - 2)

5th - Buster Brady - $235,635 - 44 starts, 12 wins, 4 seconds and 3 thirds.

6th - Wrappers Delight - $375,234 - 48 starts, 17 wins, 6 seconds and 8 thirds. (Group 1 win - 1)

7th - Thefixer - $608,165 - 18 starts, 11 wins, 1 second and 1 third. (Group 1 wins - 2) 

8th - Cruz Bromac - $392,043 - 39 starts, 20 wins, 4 seconds and 3 thirds. (Group 1 wins - 2)

9th - Star Galleria - $345,465 - 32 starts, 13 wins, 7 seconds and 2 thirds. 

10th - Raukapuka Ruler - $217,935 - 25 starts, 8 wins and 3 seconds. (Group 1 win - 1)

Total earnings on the day before the 2019 Hunter Cup totals $5,512,551

Tiger Tara winning the Hunter Cup

Here is the 2019 Hunter Cup

Tiger Tara - Gross Time: 3.14.2                    Lazarus - Gross Time 3:15.7

                    Mile Rate: 1:53.2                                        Mile Rate: 1:54.1

                    First Quarter (last mile) 28.9                      First Quarter (last mile) 29.4                

                    Second Quarter 28.9                                  Second Quarter 28.6

                    Third Quarter 27.2                                      Third Quarter 27

                    Fourth Quarter 28                                       Fourth Quarter 28

History may tell the tale – but more likely it’s an argument that will still be doing the rounds in a decade. For harness racing’s sake, let’s hope so!

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

 

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