After making an enormous impression in his first three starts in the spring, all eyes will be on Lupo Solitario when he returns to action against a small field in Saturday’s Gr.3 Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m) at Pukekohe.
Lupo Solitario heads the line-up for the $120,000 feature, which originally had eight acceptances but has been reduced to six with two scratchings. The Satono Aladdin gelding is a commanding favourite on the TAB’s market, sitting at a quote of $1.70 on Friday morning.
Trained by Danica Guy at Matamata, Lupo Solitario launched his career with impressive back-to-back wins at Te Rapa and Tauranga in August and September. The placegetters in the Te Rapa maiden race were Glamour Tycoon and Mary Shan, who have both gone on to perform at black-type level.
Lupo Solitario stepped on to the big stage for his third start, lining up in the Gr.2 Sarten Memorial (1400m) at Te Rapa. He suffered the first defeat of his career, finishing second and a length and a half behind standout three-year-old Crocetti. That rival has now won all of his six starts including the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), while Sarten third placegetter To Catch A Thief filled the same position in the Riccarton classic.
The big trip south for the 2000 Guineas was never on Guy’s agenda for Lupo Solitario, instead giving him a brief let-up before setting her sights on the $1.5 million TAB Karaka Millions 3YO (1600m) at Ellerslie in late January.
“Everything’s gone really well with him,” Guy said this week. “We gave him two weeks off after the Sarten, then we just slowly built him back up from there.
“I was very pleased with how he went in a recent exhibition gallop at Counties, and his last gallop with Ryan (Elliot, jockey) aboard was just what we were looking for. He should be spot on heading into this race on Saturday.
“Further down the track, there’s a three-year-old mile on New Year’s Day that looks like a really suitable race to head to next. As long as everything’s still going well with him, we’ll carry on into the Karaka Millions after that.”
Lupo Solitario is also prominent in Karaka Millions 3YO betting, currently rated a $6 third favourite behind the $4 equal favourites Molly Bloom and Tokyo Tycoon.
Lupo Solitario headlines a three-horse team for Guy at Pukekohe on Saturday, where bold performances are also expected from stablemates Wild West and Suzuka in the Stella Artois 1500 Championship Qualifier (1200m).
It will be the first start in just over a year for Wild West, who has previously won in a fresh state. He showed good signs with a second placing in a Taupo trial on November 22, chasing home quality sprinter Bonny Lass.
The lightly raced Suzuka ran fourth on debut in December of last year and has made a strong return in three starts this spring. He ran second behind budding star Adam I Am at Matamata in September, then won at Taupo before a last-start third in heavy ground at Tauranga.
The TAB has Suzuka on the second line of favouritism at $6 behind Titled ($5.50), with Wild West not far behind on an $8 quote.