where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2024-03-07 06:12:26  
Legarto in for major bonus

Legarto, the much-favored contender, is set to fetch a substantial reward after Saturday's exhilarating $450,000 Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie, regardless of the outcome.

By Proisir, Legarto is poised to claim the major portion of the $650,000 summer series bonus, a new addition this year courtesy of Entain Australia and New Zealand in partnership with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing.

This series spans four races from January to March, presenting a $500,000 jackpot to the series champion, $100,000 to the runner-up, and $50,000 for the third-place finisher, with trainers receiving 10 percent of the bonus.

Eligibility for the bonus necessitated participation in either of the first two legs of the series – the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham on January 20 or the $1 million Aotearoa Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on January 27.

Having secured the runner-up spot in the Aotearoa Classic before clinching victory in the third leg, the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa last month, Legarto commands the series with 20.5 points.

The final leg, the New Zealand Stakes, awards 13.5 points to the winner, and with Legarto guaranteed three points for participating, Robbie Patterson's One Bold Cat emerges as the sole challenger for the top prize, needing a victory with Legarto finishing outside the top four to pocket $500,000.

Although challenging the $1.45 favorite will be no easy feat, One Bold Cat (10.5 points) remains in the hunt for minor bonuses, alongside stablemates Puntura (9 points), El Vencedor (7 points), and Sharp ‘N’ Smart and Skyman (5 points).

While the primary focus is always on securing Group One glory, trainers Ken and Bev Kelso are thrilled by the added allure of the summer series bonus.

"This Saturday promises to be exceptional as we have the bonus within reach, promising a substantial payday," remarked Ken Kelso to Trackside NZ. "Winning isn't essential for the bonus, which adds an extra layer of excitement."

Following her triumph in the Herbie Dyke Stakes, Legarto underwent a trial last week to maintain her form, a move that has delighted Kelso.

"She had a leisurely trial here at Matamata last Thursday over 1100m. She finished strong," he noted. "I check on her every evening around 7:30pm, and she always finishes her meal and looks eager for more. She's thriving."

While there's undoubtedly pressure associated with fielding a short-priced favorite, Kelso believes Legarto's prominence is beneficial for the sport, offering a heroine to galvanize interest in horse racing.

"She consistently enters as the favorite, adding a bit of pressure," he acknowledged. "She's in top shape, and now it's up to Ryan (Elliot, jockey).

"Having horses like Legarto is fantastic for the sport. They serve as ambassadors, drawing attention and hopefully garnering a devoted following, akin to Roger's filly (Orchestral) last week, winning the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m)."

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