While all eyes were on the standout Satono Aladdin gelding, Tokyo Tycoon, leading up to Saturday's Group 2 Hawke's Bay Guineas (1400m) at Hastings, New Zealand, it was another son of the same stallion who emerged from his shadow and stole the spotlight.
Lantern Way, defying the odds at 20-to-one, delivered a breathtaking upset victory to shed his maiden status in spectacular fashion.
As Tokyo Tycoon struggled in the Heavy 9 track, unable to make an impact from midfield down the straight, Lantern Way unleashed a powerful surge from third-last position, effortlessly overtaking his more fancied counterpart.
Jockey Jonathan Riddell guided Lantern Way into third place passing the 200m mark, and the Lisa Latta-trained gelding displayed remarkable determination, surging forward and finishing strongly, ultimately winning by half a length over Solidify and Burn To Shine.
Riddell praised Lantern Way, stating, “That's a good way to break maidens. He's got a lot of talent and has always been a really nice horse.”
Lantern Way was bred by Rich Hill Thoroughbreds, the same entity that stands Satono Aladdin for a service fee of $45,000. Last year, at the Karaka 2022 yearling sale, Latta secured Lantern Way for $40,000. While this victory marked his first win, his six-start career had previously yielded three placings and earnings exceeding $136,000 in stakes.
Despite his maiden status, Lantern Way had shown black-type quality with second-place finishes in last season's Group 3 Taranaki 2YO Classic (1200m) and last month's Listed Wanganui Guineas (1200m).
Latta mentioned, “He looked pretty ordinary in the Wanganui Guineas – his coat just wasn't quite there. We elected to give him the five weeks between runs. He had a nice jumpout at Levin in between times, where he ran in an open-class heat.
“He's only a maiden, but he came from last and went through them just like that.”
Regarding Lantern Way's ownership, Latta praised Craig McNeill for assembling a fantastic group of owners and expressed her delight in achieving this result for them.
Lantern Way is now nominated for the Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) on November 11, with online betting sites rating him as an +700 equal third favourite for the Riccarton classic. Latta stated, “A lot of his owners live down south, so it would be pretty special for them if we got him down there for the Guineas, but obviously the horse comes first. We'll get him through this and then go from there.”
The track conditions played a crucial role in the race, with persistent rain affecting the Hastings track. The winning time of 1:27.19 reflected the challenging conditions, making it the slowest Hawke's Bay Guineas since 1989.
Opie Bosson, Tokyo Tycoon's jockey, attributed the horse's fifth-place finish and nearly eight-length gap from the winner to the unfavourable ground conditions.
“He just didn't feel comfortable in that ground, so that's what I'd put it down to.”