A revitalized Sangster handily won the $500,000 Barfoot and Thompson Auckland Cup (NZ-I) March 6 at Ellerslie, tallying a third consecutive win and second group I victory in as many starts after snapping an eight-race winless skid.
The 4-year Savabeel colt, the 2-to-1 favorite under Opie Bosson, opened a clear lead entering the straight and cruised to a 2 1/4- length triumph over longshot El Soldado while establishing himself as a horse to watch for the Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) later this year.
Multiple group-placed Chaparrone finished 3 1/4 lengths back in third in the 17-horse field.
Sangster finished the 3,200-meter (about two-mile) turf race in 3:23.23. He came into the Auckland Cup off back-to-back wins in the Cardinal Logistics Avondale Gold Cup (NZ-II) Feb. 17 at Ellerslie and Darci Bramha International Stakes (NZ-I) Feb. 9 at Te Rapa.
Sangster was a blossoming talent as a 3-year-old when scoring a dramatic head win in the Victoria Derby (Aus-I) after taking control on the turn and uncoiling a sustained rally down the straight. But victory eluded him in eight subsequent starts until his breakthrough last month at Te Rapa.
"Melbourne's the dream, but obviously it's very hard to win," Trent Busuttin, who co-trains the colt with Natalie Young, told NZ Newswire.
Busuttin's father, Paddy Busuttin, trained Castletown, an eight-time group I winner in Australia and New Zealand who finished third in Australia's famous race in 1992. The younger Busuttin led Castletown back to scale after he won the Auckland Cup earlier the same season.
"Hopefully this bloke can keep going," Busuttin said of Sangster. "He's had three group Is now; he's only a 4-year-old. It'd be nice if he can win eight or nine group Is like Castletown."
Sangster was bred in New Zealand by Emblem Stud and has six wins, three seconds, and two thirds from 19 career starts. His dam is the winning Spectrum mare Quinta Special, and he hails from the family of U.S. grade I winners Both Ends Burning and Hyperborean, grade II winner Dancinginherdreams, and Infrattini, a recent stakes winner at Fair Grounds who is grade III-placed.