Day At The Track

50th Messenger climaxes a dream year

12:00 PM 28 Apr 2017 NZST
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One of the greatest years of Trevor Casey's life is about to come to a slight halt at about 9.25pm at Alexandra Park tonight.

That is when the gravy train, that is Lazarus, will pull into the station for the last time in 2016-2017.

"It's all been a dream and a horse like 'Laz' is a one-in-a-lifetime dream. It would be a great way to end the season with a win in the Messenger.

"The race means a lot to me because I part-owned Sky Major when he won it in 2015," Christchurch-based Casey said.

Casey also co-owns stablemate, Waikiki Beach (2), who will start one outside Lazarus in the 50th running of the Group One $100,000 New Zealand Messenger Championship.

The 2700m mobile, which is sponsored by Auckland law firm Dawson, Harford & Partners, has again attracted New Zealand’s best 4-year-old pacers.

But the field of seven would have no doubt been larger had the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained $1.02 fixed odds favourite, Lazarus, headed to the spelling paddock last week, instead of Sunday.

“What 4-year-old has ever achieved what he has this season? He’s an absolute champion and even though I’ll also be cheering on ‘Barney’ (Waikiki Beach) I don’t think any horse can get near ‘Laz’, let alone a 4-year-old.

“I think he’s two lengths better than ‘Barney’ at this stage of their careers. I’m just going to be so proud to have them both race in my Lone Star colours again. I’d love to quinella the race like last week,” Casey said.

Lazarus and Waikiki Beach finished one, two in the Group One Taylor Mile seven nights ago. Lazarus got the better of him by one-and-a-half lengths and paid a miserly dollar to win.

That was Lazarus’s 26th career win from 31 starts. He's also placed in five others for $2.1 million in stakes.

The son of Bettor’s Delight’s six Group One wins this season have included the coveted New Zealand Cup, the Victoria Cup, the Chariots Of Fire, the 4yo Aussie Bonanza, the New Zealand Free-For-All, and last week's Taylor Mile.

This season alone Lazarus has won more than $1.1m in stakes.

So was his placing in the Miracle Mile a blemish on almost the perfect season?

“No, not really. He was a victim of circumstances if you reversed the run of the winner I reckon he would have won that race,” Casey said.

The 56-year-old has been owning standardbreds since 1979 but has never had a season like the one just gone.

“I’ve had many winners thanks largely to Lazarus and Waikiki Beach. I think they are the best two horses I have owned, separated by Sky Major. It is going to be a real thrill watching them go around on Friday,” said Casey.

He said Lazarus would follow the same schedule as last year, starting with a race like the New Brighton Cup in September.

“We didn’t consider the Jewels because he won that at two and the New Zealand Cup is now the main priority. It would be great if he could win two New Zealand Cups.

"He's an incredible horse with a fantastic nature. He will tell us when he comes to end of his racing career, but at the moment he is thriving. His stud career is well and truly on hold,” Casey said.

Lazarus will be attempting to win his seventh race from eight starts at Alexandra Park, and fifth from seven over the distance.

"'Barney' will keep him honest but it's hard to see them getting close to 'Laz". He's loving his racing and is showing no signs of a big season," Casey said.


Duane Ranger

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