With a thrilling victory at Ellerslie on Saturday, star three-year-old Aegon (NZ) (Sacred Falls) became the first horse in history to win both the Gr1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas and the NZ$1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic.
Aegon was a NZ$150,000 purchase from Waikato Stud’s draft in Book 1 of Karaka 2019 by Andrew Forsman, who shares ownership with the Zame Partnership. Forsman also trains in partnership with Murray Baker at Cambridge. Aegon has now won all of his four starts and NZ$859,900 in stakes.
This was a remarkable training performance by Baker and Forsman, with Aegon not having raced since his 2000 Guineas victory at Riccarton on November 7. He had an exhibition gallop at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day and also won a trial at Matamata on January 12.
Hype and anticipation had been building steadily throughout the weeks leading into Saturday’s big race, which was billed as an epic two-horse clash between Aegon and fellow Waikato Stud Karaka graduate Amarelinha (NZ) (Savabeel). Bought by Te Akau Racing’s David Ellis for NZ$300,000, Amarelinha produced an exceptional performance to win the Group Two Eight Carat Classic at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.
The mouth-watering match-up did not disappoint. To the roars of the crowd, Aegon and Amarelinha sprinted to the lead side by side in the straight and raced clear to fight out a desperate battle to the finish.
Just when Amarelinha appeared to be gaining the upper hand, Aegon summoned another mammoth effort. He lunged at the line and just prevailed, winning by a head in one of the races of the season.
“It’s a big thrill,” Baker said. “We’ve been very patient with this horse, and the staff at home have done a great job with him. It’s also a big achievement for my training partner Andrew, who selected him at the yearling sales.
“He’d never been tried right-handed before, but he was given a great ride from Leith Innes today and he’s delivered on a big stage.”
The win continued the Baker-Forsman stable’s outstanding record with the Zame Partnership, who also raced the Australian Derby (2400m) winner Jon Snow (NZ) (Iffraaj), who was a NZ$65,000 purchase at Karaka in 2015.
“Aegon is a very good horse, and horses like him make trainers look good,” Forsman said. “It’s special to be racing a horse like this with such great people. It’s a dream.
“Leith is a big-race rider and did a brilliant job today, and it’s a great result. I’m very happy for the staff at home. We’ve had a bit of a lean time recently, we haven’t had the strength of team that we had a few seasons ago, so this is a real boost for them.”
Aegon’s victory was the first win in a Karaka Million race for one of New Zealand’s leading jockeys, Leith Innes.
“It’s a great event, and there’s nothing better than winning one of the million-dollar races on a horse like this,” he said. “He’s very special.
“The turn of foot he showed in the straight was incredible, and when the filly came up beside him, he really fought in those last 50 metres.”
The Karaka Million 3YO Classic was Aegon’s third black-type win in his four-start career, having also won the Group Two Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m) at Hastings in October.
Runner-up Amarelinha has now earned NZ$210,900 in stakes from her four starts to date, while third-placed Montre Moi (NZ) (Showcasing) cost NZ$67,500 from Book 1 of Karaka 2019 and has earned NZ$73,800 in his four-start career so far.
|Mr AC Forsman (Waikato)
|Sacred Falls – Toss Up
|Lot 485, Karaka 2019 Book 1, NZ$150,000