Sky is the limit for Lazarus in US
CHAMPION Down Under pacer Lazarus should take another big step towards becoming the world's best pacer by winning the Canadian Derby at Woodbine Mohawk track on Sunday (AEST).
Lazarus made a spectacular splash at his North American debut by doing all the work and dominantly winning the $US325,000 Dan Patch Stakes at Hoosier Park in Indiana on August 11.
In contrast to his horror wide draw (gate nine) at Hoosier Park, Lazarus has drawn ideally in gate two for this week's race, which will be shown live on Sky Racing at 12.50pm on Sunday (AEST). Ladbrokes has Lazarus a $1.45 favourite.
World champion and Canadian-based driver James MacDonald expects Lazarus to win again.
"This race is no harder than his last win, but he's drawn better and should be even fitter," MacDonald said.
"Just like last time, McWicked (gate three, $5) is the danger if he got the right run, but if Lazarus races like he did last time he should win again."
MacDonald's opinion of Lazarus has been highly sought as he watched the superstar win the Perth Inter Dominion final in the flesh last December while competing in some invitational races at Gloucester Park.
"I've been telling everyone I'd never seen a horse do what he did in that final … parked outside them, do all that work and go on by as he did," he said.
"I think he was underestimated when he first got here, but not now. Not after that first win.
"The way he did it, he earned so much respect.
"I couldn't believe what I saw in Perth. My only query was whether he could acclimatise to the shorter speed racing over here and whether he could show speed from the gate. He did both in that first win.
"The sky is the limit for him over here if he keeps going the way he is."
Lazarus looks set to have another three to five races after the Canadian Derby in quest to bolster his stallion value for his new owners, Taylor Made Stallions.
MacDonald said his rivals would not get any stronger than this week.
"No, these are the best of the best," he said. "If he beats them, he can beat anything. He's already well on his way to being the best (pacer) over here."
And MacDonald said Lazarus's driver, Yannick Gingras, was adamant the best was still to come.
"I spoke with Yannick after that latest win and he said he did it well, felt like a pro and nothing was ever going to get past him. He said he should only keep getting better," he said.
MacDonald also said Lazarus landing in the stables of genius Swedish horseman Jimmy Takter was another huge plus.
"He's won every big race - pacing or trotter - he's the Mark Purdon of our part of the world," he said.