In a field that oozed quality from top to bottom with half of the twelve runners boasting wins at Group One level it was flying four-year-old Imperatriz who proved best on the day when she took out the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa.
The Mark Walker-trained daughter of I Am Invincible went into the race off the back of a narrow but impressive victory over race rival Babylon Berlin in the Gr.1 Sistema Railway (1200m) at the venue on New Year’s day followed by a decisive win in the Gr.2 Westbury Classic (1400m) at Pukekohe on January 21.
Hunting her third stakes win in a row and her fourth at the highest level, rider Opie Bosson had her perfectly positioned on the fence ahead of midfield as Babylon Berlin set up a solid pace, enhanced by the riderless Mustang Valley, who dropped Wiremu Pinn shortly after the start and continued on around the field.
Bosson was giggling to himself at the 600m as he had a lapful of horse and so it proved as he unleashed the mare in the run home, where she quickly moved alongside Babylon Berlin before forging clear to win with ridiculous ease in a slick 1.20.70 for the 1400m, the fastest since Mrs Selleck won the race back in 1992.
Babylon Berlin battled solidly to record her third Group One runner-up placing in succession, ahead of Levante who made good ground late after being near last approaching the home bend.
Bosson couldn’t believe how well Imperatriz had travelled throughout the contest and admitted he was counting the money a long way from home.
“She was never going to get beaten as I felt like I was in a race by myself with no one near me or around me,” Bosson said.
“She just went through her gears and she is awesome to sit on.
“It was over at the 600m as the splits just kept coming and I had a lapful of horse.
“It was a very good field, but when she is on her A-game there is not much that can beat her.”
Walker was also thrilled with the result and admitted his charge has a special affinity for the Te Rapa track where she remains unbeaten in five starts, all at stakes level.
“When the loose horse was out there, I was a little bit mindful of what was going on, but she is the real deal,” he said.
“I would love to get her to Australia in this form and maybe get a Group One over there.
“We have trained her a little bit different this time in and Opie has such confidence in her.
“She has a great record here and we were pretty confident coming into today as she was flying in her trackwork and just in her general demeanor.”
Bred by Raffles Dancers NZ Ltd, Imperatriz was bought by David Ellis for A$360,000 on the Gold Coast as a yearling in 2020. She has now had 17 starts for 12 wins, two placings and over $1 million in stakes.