Stage Set for a Scintillating Karaka Million 2YO

Media Release - Friday January 21

From more than 2800 foals born in the spring of 2019, just 14 two-year-olds will enter the Ellerslie starting gates on Saturday to take their shot at one of the most lucrative prizes in New Zealand racing. 

The richest and most exciting 70 seconds in New Zealand sport, the $1m DoubleTree by Hilton Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) is the main attraction of a high-octane twilight race meeting that has become an unmissable event on Auckland’s sporting calendar. The connections of the Karaka Million 2YO winner will receive $550,500, which equates to almost $8000 per second of Saturday’s big race.


By far New Zealand’s richest race for two-year-olds, the 2022 Karaka Million 2YO has drawn a talent-packed field.

The countdown to the Karaka Million has been dominated by Wolverine (NZ) (Tivaci), the $50,000 purchase from Book 1 of Karaka 2021 who has already amassed $138,970 in stakes in a perfect three-start, three-win career. She has won both of New Zealand’s biggest two-year-old races so far this season – the Group Two Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m) and Group Two Eclipse Stakes (1200m).

Wolverine’s connections have a winning touch in the Karaka Million. Part-owner Chris Rutten, who teamed up with trainer Roydon Bergerson to buy the filly at Karaka, bought and owned the 2014 Karaka Million 2YO winner Vespa (NZ) (Elusive City) and the 2018 Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) winner Scott Base (NZ) (Dalghar). Australian Bloodstock, who bought a share in Wolverine following her debut win at Otaki in November, won the Karaka Million 2YO in 2012 with Ockham’s Razor (NZ) (Any Suggestion).


But Wolverine’s pre-race dominance was dented in Wednesday morning’s barrier draw when she drew gate 13 – no horse has ever won the race from there, although three have been successful from gate 14.

Attention has started to shift towards the powerful Te Akau Racing team and trainer Jamie Richards, who have won the Karaka Million 2YO in all of the last five years with Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands), Avantage (Fastnet Rock), Probabeel (NZ) (Savabeel), Cool Aza Beel (NZ) (Savabeel) and On The Bubbles (Brazen Beau).

They are back with both quality and quantity again in 2022, with most eyes on Dynastic (NZ) (Almanzor) – the chosen mount of champion jockey Opie Bosson.

Bought for $360,000 by David Ellis from Book 1 of Karaka 2021, Dynastic has had one start for a second placing, finishing strongly to be runner-up behind stablemate Grace ‘N’ Grey (NZ) (Spirit Of Boom) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day. Dynastic picked up an ideal draw of gate five.

Alongside him in gate six is stablemate Fellini (NZ) (Belardo), who has won his last two starts including at Ellerslie two weeks ago. That Ellerslie race has been won by subsequent Karaka Million winners Avantage, Probabeel and On The Bubbles in the last five years. Fellini cost Ellis just $40,000 in Book 1 of Karaka 2021.

Last-start winners Grace ‘N’ Grey and Lord Cosmos (Pierro) round out another strong Karaka Million contingent for Te Akau, who also have Time Flies (NZ) (Time Test) as the first emergency.

But the chances don’t end there. Pacific Dragon (NZ) (Charm Spirit) went toe to toe with Wolverine in the Eclipse Stakes and beat her in a photo finish, only for that result to be subsequently overturned via protest. Mascarinto (NZ) (Per Incanto) and Sacred Satono (NZ) (Satono Aladdin) have also already proven themselves with placings at blacktype level.

The $1m DoubleTree by Hilton Karaka Million 2YO is the fourth event on Ellerslie’s action-packed NZB Karaka Million twilight card, with a start time of 6:29pm.


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