A small field will work in favour of hot-pot Legarto’s bid to extend her winning sequence to four when she steps out in the Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on Saturday.
The undefeated daughter of Proisir has a stranglehold on the market for the Barneswood Farm-sponsored Classic at a current quote of $1.40.
Legarto has also been blessed with an ideal gate in stall four, although that is unlikely to change the filly’s customary style of drifting back in her races under regular rider Ryan Elliot.
“I think she will definitely find her feet early, there are only eight other runners so she’s not going to get far off them,” said Ken Kelso, who trains Legarto with wife Bev.
“She has drawn midfield and you always need a touch of luck in the running. We’re very happy with her, she has done a treat so it’s all up to her now and Ryan.”
Kelso will fly to Christchurch on Saturday morning and has been encouraged by reports from his team on the ground.
“The girl who works for us, Megan Winter, is down there staying with Terri Rae and they are very happy with her, she’s been eating very well,” he said.
“Ryan worked her Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday and he is very happy with her as well.”
Successful in her only two-year-old outing, Legarto opened her current campaign with an age group victory at Te Rapa before she returned there to trounce her rivals in the Gr.3 Soliloquy Stakes (1400m).
Runner-up Romancing The Moon will be a race rival again on Saturday while third placegetter Prowess filled the same placing last weekend in the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m).
Legarto also displayed her versatility with a dashing display on a Good4 track in the Soliloquy after winning her first two starts on rain-affected going.
Safely through Saturday, attention is then likely to turn toward an attractive summer target.
“We’ll get home after this and obviously she is eligible for the Karaka Million 3YO so all going well, we’ll make a plan to go there,” Kelso said.
Bred by Warwick Jeffries, Legarto was purchased out of Highline Thoroughbreds’ Book 2 draft at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale for $90,000 by Phillip Brown’s Ancroft Stud, who races the filly with partners.
Brown’s colours are also carried by Legarto’s older stablemate Levante, who finished a gallant fourth in last Saturday’s Gr.1 Champions Sprint (1200m) at Flemington.
“We were very proud of her, she got exposed a bit and didn’t get a lot of cover in the running. It was a very brave effort and you can’t be disappointed,” Kelso said.
Also by Proisir, Levante is a dual domestic Group One winner and twice placed in the Gr.1 Railway Stakes (1200m), a race once again on her radar.
“She got home on Thursday morning as bright as a button. We put her in the paddock and she’s fresh as a daisy so she took no harm from the run,” Kelso said.
“She looks a million dollars and, all going well, we’ll make a plan to go to the Railway again.”