So Naive (NZ) Strengthens Karaka Millions 2YO Claim

15 January 2024

So Naive (NZ). Photo: Race Images

Sunday’s $45,000 Stella Artois 2YO (1200m) at Ellerslie confirmed a spot in the $1m TAB Karaka Millions 2YO (1200m) field for three talented juveniles, headed by the impressive winner So Naive (NZ) (U S Navy Flag).

Sunday’s race was the final opportunity to earn prize-money and move up the order of entry for the TAB Karaka Millions 2YO, which will be run at Ellerslie in less than two weeks’ time. This race has been used as a stepping stone to Karaka Millions glory by previous winners Avantage (Fastnet Rock) and On The Bubbles (Brazen Beau).

Going into Sunday’s race, So Naive sat in sixth place on the order of entry with $37,125 in prize-money – assured of a place in the field, but under the radar compared to some of the more highly rated contenders. Maracatu (NZ) (Ardrossan) and Hard Attack (NZ) (All Too Hard) were both in danger of missing a start in the big race, sitting outside the top 12 places with earnings of $16,375 and $9,250 respectively.

All three enhanced their claims with their performances on Sunday, and none more so than So Naive. The talented colt settled in midfield before lengthening stride impressively in the straight, powering home from off the pace and going clear to win by three-quarters of a length.

So Naive (NZ) as a yearling.

“He has still got heaps to learn and was doing a lot wrong, but he was solid late,” rider Michael McNab said. “He has got to be a chance in the Karaka Millions. He has won at the track and he is a nice, strong horse and he will handle the couple of weeks into it. If he can improve like he has from Boxing Day to today, he has got to be a runner’s chance.”

So Naive was a $37,500 purchase by trainers Bruce Wallace and Grant Cooksley at Karaka 2023, where he was offered by Kilgravin Lodge in Book 1. He has now had three starts for two wins and $63,000 in stakes, putting him in fourth on the Karaka Millions order of entry behind Bellatrix Star (Star Witness), Beau Dazzler (NZ) (Ardrossan) and Velocious (Written Tycoon).

“He has improved a lot from his last run,” Cooksley said. “He is a nice and relaxed horse. He is not a bad horse and in a couple of weeks he will be a bit fitter.”

Sunday’s second placegetter Maracatu moved up to eighth on the order of entry with $24,700, while the third-placed Hard Attack now sits in 13th with $13,300.

The TAB Karaka Millions 2YO will be run at Ellerslie on January 27, as part of a blockbuster twilight programme that also features the $1.5m TAB Karaka Millions 3YO (1600m) and the inaugural running of the $1m Elsdon Park Aotearoa Classic 4YO (1600m). View the full conditional order of entry here