Nine of the Best

Date: 8 Mar 2024

Acclaimed as the best sprinter on the planet, with a name meaning the empress, Imperatriz recently notched up her ninth Group One victory, matching former stable-mate Avantage.

Both were purchased as yearlings by Te Akau principal David Ellis CNZM, as was dual Horse of the Year Melody Belle, whose 14 Group One wins is a New Zealand record, surpassing 13 by mighty mare Sunline.

Imperatriz showed early on she had all the ability to become a future force of nature!

Known as “Berri” in the stable, Imperatriz won both her 2YO starts, including the Group 2 Eclipse Stakes, beating stablemate and subsequent Group 1 winner and now sire, Sword of State.

The next season, she won two Group One’s over a mile as a 3YO to be crowned Champion 3YO of the Year. As a 4YO, she then added three Group One victories to her CV and was voted Champion Sprinter/Miler - however in more recent times has made her mark as a sprinter with a further four Group One’s this season.

This Saturday, she attempts to make it 10 in the A$1.5 million Group 1 Yulong Newmarket Handicap over 1200m at Flemington, where she carries top weight (58.5kg) under Opie Bosson ONZM and jumps from barrier three.
It’s a huge ask but history awaits her if she can defy the odds - of the weight.

Purchased for A$360,000 by David Ellis CNZM at the Gold Coast Yearling Sale 2020, from the draft of Bhima Thoroughbreds, Imperatriz is owned by the Te Akau Invincible Empress Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM).

Imperatriz has now won 18 of her 24 starts, including nine of 10 since 1 January last year, and over NZ$6.3 million in prize money.

In 2023, Imperatriz won six Group 1 titles - more than any other horse in the world that year!

Her most recent victory, in the A$1 million Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes on 17 February at Flemington was her fifth Group One on Australian soil and created another milestone by surpassing the four Group One victories there by former stable-mate and dual Horse of the Year Probabeel.

Reflecting on her Group One victories, in chronological order:

19 March 2022 – Group 1 Levin Classic (1600m) - Trentham:

Following an electrifying five-length win in the Lisa Chittick Plate over 1400m, Imperatriz was able to position perfectly in fourth on a sedate tempo, cruised up to level mid-straight, and a flick of the wrist by jockey Michael McNab had her quickening to winning advantage.

She led home a first four for Te Akau, defeating On The Bubbles, I Wish I Win and Mohawk Brave.

16 April 2022 – Group 1 NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) - Te Rapa:

Reported to have trained on well since the Levin Classic, with stable rider Opie Bosson aboard, Imperatriz took on older mares at weight-for-age, and once ignited in the straight her astonishing turn of foot had rivals gasping as she cleared out to win by five lengths.

1 January 2023 – Group 1 Sistema Railway (1200m) - Te Rapa:

Making it four from four on the course, Imperatriz was given a brilliant ride by Opie Bosson.

Drawn awkwardly in barrier 10, Imperatriz situated seventh on the outer, was five lengths off the leader at the 600m, and once into the clear at a timely moment on straightening she kept finding to run down gallant leader Babylon Berlin.

11 February 2023 – Group 1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) - Te Rapa:

Imperatriz went to another level winning her fourth Group One race on Legends’ Day.

Her time (1:20.70) was the second fastest in the race while just outside the 1400-metre track record (1:20.42) set by Dopff in 1993.

Imperatriz was able to box seat behind the leader but once rider Opie Bosson let the brakes go she sprinted clear (alongside a riderless horse) to win by four and half lengths.

24 March 2023 – Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) - Moonee Valley:

Having just her second start in Australia, after being beaten by a head in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1400m) in Sydney, Imperatriz reached the pinnacle.

Apart from a bump when looking to improve, Imperatriz was given a seamlessly perfect ride by Opie Bosson, and looming as she did rounding the home turn was the impetus for a powerful finish.

29 September 2023 – Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000 metres - track record) - Moonee Valley:

Having spelled at Te Akau Stud, and following two trials in New Zealand, Imperatriz resumed with a track record (56.68) victory in the McEwen Stakes (Gr. 2, 1000m) at Moonee Valley, and lowered the mark again in the Moir, running 56.47 - breaking her own track record.

In a similarly run affair to the McEwen, where she circled around from last and cleared out to win by two and half lengths, Imperatriz, with Bosson again aboard, chased a hot pace in seventh position before whistling home in quite unbelievable fashion to snaffle the leader 50m out and win drawing away by one and a quarter lengths.

28 October 2023 – Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) - Moonee Valley:

Continuing her rise to stardom, she recorded a seventh Group One victory.

With Te Akau stable rider Opie Bosson in the saddle, and backed as unbeatable ($1.20), Imperatriz hustled from barrier four to lead, strode out beautifully before having her rivals off the nickel at the 400m and romped clear to win by three and a quarter lengths.

11 November 2023 – Group 1 Champions Sprint (1200m) - Flemington:

Culminating her spring campaign, she rose to the challenge at her first course attempt.

Partnered again by Opie Bosson, Imperatriz received a gorgeous trip perched near the leader, was presented at the most opportune moment in the straight and again proved too classy over the concluding stages.

17 February 2024 – Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) - Flemington:

Although the eight runners started in centre track, Bosson was still keen to get wider than the line of drawing barrier two and began swiftly in order to do so.
Shadowed in front by well supported Private Eye, the pair really knuckled down approaching the 200m before Imperatriz lifted to a winning advantage inside the last 80m.

Both horse and jockey were required to be at their best, resulting in the ninth Group One win for Imperatriz and 97th for Bosson.

Best of luck to her and also stablemate and fellow competitor Skew Wiff this weekend!

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