NZB Filly of the Year Series Continues with Classy Desert Gold Stakes Field

18 January 2024

Grail Seeker (NZ) (Iffraaj) as a yearling at Karaka.

A field stacked with emerging talent will clash in Saturday’s $120,000 Group Three New Zealand Bloodstock Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) at Trentham, which is the seventh leg of the prestigious New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series.

The Desert Gold Stakes is worth 6 points to the winner on the NZB Filly of the Year Series standings, with 3 points for second and 1.5 for third. Molly Bloom (NZ) (Ace High) currently tops the table with 20 points, while Impendabelle (Impending) and Still Bangon (NZ) (Satono Aladdin) are the others in double digits with 15 and 12 points respectively.

The only runners in Saturday’s Desert Gold Stakes field with NZB Filly of the Year Series points already to their name are Chantilly Lace (NZ) (U S Navy Flag) and Grail Seeker (NZ) (Iffraaj). Chantilly Lace earned 3 points with a runner-up finish in the series-opening Group Three Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) at Hastings in September, while Grail Seeker finished third in the Group Two Eight Carat Classic (1600m) at Pukekohe on Boxing Day and picked up 2 points.

Outside of that proven pair, 11 of the other 12 runners in Saturday’s Desert Gold Stakes field have won races, including last-start winners Sudbina (NZ) (Almanzor), Positivity (NZ) (Almanzor), Say I Do (NZ) (Pierro) and Sense Of Timing (NZ) (Time Test).

The New Zealand Bloodstock Desert Gold Stakes will be run as Race 5 on Wellington Cup Day at Trentham on Saturday, with a scheduled start time of 2.23pm.

1 Fashion Icon 10 After failing to meet her $30,000 reserve when offered during Book 1 of Karaka 2022, Fashion Icon (NZ) (U S Navy Flag) has rapidly racked up almost $80,000 in stakes with three wins and a placing from her six starts so far. She won three of her first four races, then finished an unlucky fifth at Trentham before a close last-start second behind Desert Gold rival Sudbina (NZ) (Almanzor) at Hastings. Karaka 2022, Book 1 Psd, Res $30,000
2 Grail Seeker 8 Grail Seeker (NZ) (Iffraaj) has already been a two-time stakes placegetter from just five career starts so far. She finished second in the Listed Trevor & Corallie Eagle Memorial (1500m), beating the subsequent Group Two Sir Patrick Hogan Stakes (2050m) winner About Time (NZ) (American Pharoah). Grail Seeker's next start after that was in the Group Two Eight Carat Classic (1600m), where she ran an outstanding second behind her Filly of the Year Series-leading stablemate Molly Bloom (NZ) (Ace High). Grail Seeker has 2 points in the NZB Filly of the Year Series. Karaka 2022, Book 1 Kakapo Lodge, $130,000
3 Chantilly Lace 6 The Kevin Hickman-bred Chantilly Lace (NZ) (U S Navy Flag) was bought by Chantilly Bloodstock and Paul Moroney Bloodstock for $66,000 from the Valachi Downs Unreserved Young & Racing Stock Dispersal on Gavelhouse Plus. She has provided an outstanding return on that investment, earning $160,925 from a 16-start career that has produced three wins and six placings. The winner of the Listed Castletown Stakes (1200m) and Listed Wanganui Guineas (1200m), Chantilly Lace has also placed in the Group Three Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) and Group Three Wellington Stakes (1600m). She has so far earned 3 points in the NZB Filly of the Year Series.    
4 Lady Sass 13 It has been a successful northern mission so far for Riverton filly Lady Sass (NZ) (Staphanos), who finished fifth on her North Island debut in early December before running fourth in the Group Three Eulogy Stakes (1600m), winning at Otaki on Boxing Day, and finishing close up behind the placegetters in last Saturday's Group One Levin Classic (1600m). Overall, she has won two of her 11 starts and more than $56,000 in stakes.    
5 Sudbina 12 Although she has yet to join the NZB Filly of the Year Series points table, Sudbina (NZ) (Almanzor) has proven herself against some of the season's standouts. She took on a star-studded field in the Group Two Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) in the fourth start of her career, finishing a close sixth behind Impendabelle (Impending), Mary Shan (NZ) (Almanzor), Tulsi (The Autumn Sun) and Molly Bloom (NZ) (Ace High). Sudbina then produced another eye-catching performance in stakes company for fourth in the Group Three Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m), then won at Hastings on January 6.    
6 Vera Rose 14 The Oaks Stud's homebred filly Vera Rose (NZ) (Fiorente) made a perfect start to her career with victories in her first two races at Te Rapa and Hastings in December. In her only other start, she appeared to struggle on a Soft7 track when finishing seventh at Pukekohe on New Year's Day.    
7 Bella Corno 5 Bella Corno (NZ) (Charm Spirit) has been unplaced in both of her previous two appearances at stakes level, but she has shown promising signs with strong performances for two thirds and a fourth from her last three races leading into Saturday's Desert Gold. Overall, she has recorded a win and three placings from a four-start career to date.    
8 Funfetti 9 A daughter of promising Cambridge Stud stallion Embellish (NZ), promising filly Funfetti (NZ) won on debut at Timaru before finishing fifth in the Group Three War Decree Stakes (1600m) at just her second career start. Funfetti has recorded a second and a sixth in two subsequent races over shorter distances. Funfetti has a half-brother by Per Incanto catalogued as Lot 571 in Book 1 of Karaka 2024. Karaka 2022, Book 2 Cambridge Stud, $12,000
9 Mars 7 Well-related Zoustar filly Mars (NZ) has never finished further back than fourth from a five-start career so far. Her maiden win came at Rotorua on December 10, and then she finished an outstanding third behind the highly rated Orchestral (NZ) (Savabeel) in a strong three-year-old race at Pukekohe on New Year's Day. Karaka 2022, Book 1 K.P.W Bloodstock, $200,000
10 Positivity 11 Positivity (NZ) (Almanzor) has had only two starts, finishing fourth on debut on December 22 before winning at Tauranga on January 2. That maiden victory came over 1600 metres, so she is proven at the Desert Gold distance. Karaka 2022, Book 1 B Kwok, $160,000
11 Say I Do 1 Originally bought for $90,000 from Karaka 2022, Say I Do (NZ) (Pierro) was secured by trainer John Bary for $120,000 at the Ready to Run Sale later that year. She was unplaced in all of her first three starts, but took a big step forward with a stylish maiden win at Tauherenikau on January 2. Say I Do has a half-sister by Contributer catalogued as Lot 527 in Book 1 of Karaka 2024. 2022 Ready to Run Sale JGG Bary, $120,000
12 Sense Of Timing 3 Sense Of Timing (NZ) (Time Test) caught the eye of Te Akau's David Ellis during Book 2 of Karaka 2022, and he bought her for $100,000. She finished fourth and fifth in her first two starts, but then produced a strong finishing burst to clear maiden ranks in a 1400m race at Rotorua on December 28. Karaka 2022, Book 2 DC Ellis, $100,000
13 The Entertainer 2 Staphanos filly The Entertainer (NZ) made a big impression with a come-from-behind maiden win at Wanganui on November 2, then overcame an awkward start to run a last-start third at Hastings.    
14 Dragon Blossom 4 Although still a maiden, Dragon Blossom (NZ) (Time Test) has shown promise on multiple occasions in her seven-start career, including second placings in two of her last three starts. Dragon Blossom has a half-brother by Shamexpress going through the ring as Lot 1092 during Book 2 of Karaka 2024. Karaka 2022, Book 2 Pegasus Bloodstock/Paul Moroney Bloodstock, $55,000