The standard of two-year-old racing this season has been of a high quality and that is set to continue over the weekend with two New Zealand Bloodstock sponsored juvenile races.
Friday's $6,000 Karaka 2011 Catalogues Out Now 2YO (800m) at Riccarton sees a field of six runners take to the course with the only Karaka Million nominee - The Aftershock (Nadeem x Queens Move) - also the only horse with race day experience. Trained by Shane Marr, the colt ran home well for third in the Listed Welcome Stakes at his last start behind Bespoke.
The son of Nadeem will have his work cut out for him as Shuka (Bachelor Duke x Alabama Rose) and Dawn Raid (O'Reilly x Danadevi) come into the race with trial wins.
The other three runners, Fields Afar (Don Eduardo x Oakfields), Lezani (Beautiful Crown x Rondalla) and Saphira (O'Reilly x Cabella) come into the race without a visit to the trials.
Group 3 day at Awapuni on Saturday sees eight horses contest the $15,000 New Zealand Bloodstock 2YO Premier (1100m), with three entrants Karaka Million qualified, and four making their debut race day appearances.
The Lisa Latta trained Fort Lincoln (Charge Forward x Belle Toujours) comes into the race with the most experience with four starts for one win. A Karaka Million nominee, he is currently sitting in 14th position with $6,387 in stakes earnings.
Other Karaka Million nominees are the Bruce Wallace trained Endorsement (Nadeem x Mistrale), who comes into the race with a win and a second from three trials, and the Jason Bridgman trained Eatons Gold (Jet Spur x Road Ranger) who placed second in his only trial on 23 November.
The Lisa Latta trained Elusive Red (Elusive City x Cape Merlot) ran into a talented pair in Super Easy and Planet Rock at her debut and battled well for third with fellow entry Princess Lincoln (Lonhro x Savannah) running into fourth. The Grant Searle trained Higgs Boson (Handsome Ransom x Out Of The Blue) also ran into a tough horse on debut running fourth to Savabill.
The John Sargent trained Orutan is one to watch on debut. By Pins from the very talented two and three-year-old Naturo, the filly showed promise running second in her only trial.
Previous Karaka Million winning trainer Peter McKay is lining up Quintero for his first start. The colt by Fastnet Rock (ex Paris Intrigue) has been to the trials twice for two wins and will be looking to secure his maiden victory on Saturday. The progeny of Fastnet Rock are performing well with the exciting young sire achieving a winning double in Australia on Wednesday.
Saturday's two-year-old contest will be the 18th race that New Zealand Bloodstock has sponsored this season.
There are just 16 two-year-old contests left before the Karaka Million 2YO on 30 January at Ellerslie, with the $85,000 Group 2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes on 22 January offering the biggest boost to the coffers of young horses hunting a start in the million dollar race for Karaka graduates.
Tomorrow's Karaka 2011 Catalogues Out Now 2YO (800m) at Riccarton will run at 2.38pm with Saturday's race at Awapuni, the New Zealand Bloodstock 2YO Premier (1100m) running at 12.45pm.
The National Yearling Sales Series catalogues are out now, to request a copy, please contact NZB or visit www.nzb.co.nz.