Lazarus and champion driver Mark Purdon.
Lazarus and champion driver Mark Purdon.

Star Kiwi pacer back on top in the United States

LAZARUS's North American career is back on target after a powerhouse display to beat a hot field in the $US177,000 Group 1 Indiana Pacing Derby at Hoosier Park.

It was a crunch race for the former Kiwi champion after consecutive losses in Canada took the gloss off his breathtaking North America debut win, also at Hoosier Park, last month.

Trainer Jimmy Takter praised Lazarus's courage after saying pre-race the entire was "about 90 per cent right" and taking on the best open-class pacers in North America.

"He's still got improvement there for sure. He's going to need more racing. It's amazing what he can do off a short preparation so I'll take him to the Dayton Park Derby next weekend as well now," Takter said.

"That was a big win when you take everything into account. I said before the race he was about 90 per cent right and he had to dig very deep in the stretch (home straight). I'm very proud of what he did."

Lazarus has returned to the winners’ list in the US with a neck victory. Picture: Stuart McCormick
Lazarus has returned to the winners’ list in the US with a neck victory. Picture: Stuart McCormick

Lazarus, much like he did winning when last at Hoosier Park, worked from a wide draw (gate six) and found the lead after a slick 26.0sec opening quarter.

Driver Yannick Gingras dictated the terms through the middle stages, mindful of a strong headwind down the back straight and also of the fact his main danger, McWicked, had a perfect one-one trail.

"He just about felt as good tonight as when he won the Dan Patch (his North American debut win). That was a brave effort because he worked hard for the first quarter," Gingras said.

"He felt really strong on the corner (home bend), but I knew he'd get tired late. He knew they were coming at him and kept digging in. He fought it right out tonight."

Lazarus held on to beat McWicked by a neck in 1min48.8sec mile, ripping home his last quarter in 25.8sec.

The victory took his North American record to two wins and two seconds from just four starts and gives him a 2-1 advantage over McWicked, who many believed was North American's benchmark open-class star before Lazarus arrived there.