Karaka Million start on the line for Sunrise Ruby at Tauranga Thu, 19 Jan 2017

Richard Edmunds

Stephen McKee won last year’s Karaka Million with Xiong Feng, and his contingent for this year’s race could grow to three if well-bred filly Sunrise Ruby wins at Tauranga tomorrow.

McKee already has two runners safely qualified for the Million with Gr. 3 Eclipse Stakes winner Hasahalo and the impressive Boxing Day winner Star Treasure. If she collects the winner’s share of the $20,000 stake for tomorrow’s Fresh Market Gate Pa Shopping Centre 2YO, Sunrise Ruby will join them.

“If she wins this race she’ll go to the Karaka Million,” McKee told The Informant.

“It’s a pretty attractive option for owners of two-year-olds, so they’re keen to have a go. There’s a few bridges to cross yet, she’ll need to win this race to get enough money to make the field, but that’s the plan. Otherwise we’ll save her for some black-type racing a bit later on.”

Sunrise Ruby is by Jimmy Choux out of A Touch Of Ruby. Sunrise Ruby was in her mother’s womb when the Pins mare ended her racing career with a Group One win in the Thorndon Mile at Trentham.

Sunrise Ruby has had one start to date, a fast-finishing third over 1000 metres behind Gold Fever and Savelle at Te Rapa.

“She went a good race there,” McKee said. “She made really good ground late in the piece. She’s gone on with it nicely since then and I’ve been happy with her work.

“She’s drawn a bit awkwardly in gate eight of nine, but the plan would have been to go back anyway. She should be a nice chance.”

Sunrise Ruby isn’t the only runner in tomorrow’s race with Karaka Million aspirations.

Pukekohe trainer Dean Wiles won this race last year with Nova Swiss, completing a last-gasp surge into the Karaka Million field. He was unplaced after a wide run, but he has gone on to win all of his first four starts in Singapore.

Wiles is hoping that at least some of that history will repeat tomorrow with the Nadeem gelding Super Phan. A dead-heat winner of a trial at Avondale, Super Phan is making his debut in this afternoon’s race in an all-or-nothing bid for a Karaka Million berth.

Super Phan will be ridden by Samantha Collett, like Nova Swiss was last year, and will jump from the inside gate.