Promising filly Legarto has put herself firmly into Gr.1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) calculations with her first-up victory at Te Rapa on Friday.
The Ken and Bev Kelso-trained filly won impressively by 3-1/4 lengths on debut in June and started a $2.40 favourite in Friday’s contest, the NZB Ready To Run Sale Trainers Series 3YO (1200m).
After racing back and wide in the seven-horse field, Legarto, who like stablemate Levante races in the Ancroft Stud colours, showed her class to prevail by a neck from pacemaker Westwood, who had skipped clear rounding the home bend.
She is now an $8 chance with TAB bookmakers for the 1000 Guineas, with her trainers set to make a decision on that trip after her next assignment, the Gr.3 Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) at Te Rapa on October 22.
“I thought it was a very good effort. She was very fresh and was on the toe in the parade ring,” Ken Kelso said.
“She is going to take huge improvement from that run. I thought it was a great effort the way she has picked up the leader late, especially with the rail out 10m.
“The idea was to give her a run here at Te Rapa and then come back for the Soliloquy in three weeks’ time, and that will tell us whether to go to Riccarton or not.”
Kelso has opted to keep the filly against her own sex in the Soliloquy, as opposed to competing in the Gr.2 James and Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes (1400m) on the same card, which is open to colts and geldings.
“I don’t really see any point in taking on the colts until you have to,” he said. She might as well stick to her own sex and I didn’t nominate her for the 2000 Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m) either.”
Both of Legarto’s career wins have come on rain-affected tracks but Kelso believes the daughter of Proisir will favour better footing.
“She doesn’t mind the (wet) ground, but I don’t think she is an out-and-out mudder either. With the action she has got I think she is going to improve even on top of the ground,” he said.
Kelso was also pleased to be afforded the opportunity for his multiple Group One winner Levante to stretch her legs at Te Rapa in an exhibition gallop ahead of an Australian raid on the Gr.1 Darley Champion Sprint (1200m) at Flemington on November 5.
“She had a nice exhibition gallop. We have been frustrated by wet tracks. She has come back enormous and looks really well,” he said.
“We have been a bit frustrated trying to find some decent ground to work on, so we thought we would have a good hit-out here over half a mile and she came home in a tick over 34 (last 600m). She is on target but where we trial, I don’t know.
“I’d like to give her a trial before we go to Australia and maybe another exhibition gallop. We want to be spot on when we are heading over there for an A$3 million sprint.
“She has come back really well and Ryan (Elliot) said she towed him the whole way and really wanted to do it.”