Denise Howell has one final wish for Soriano's swansong race - a little luck.
Howell bred and races the dual Group One-winning Savabeel mare, who shoots for back-to-back wins in the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa on Saturday, her final race before her mandatory retirement through reaching 120 days of her pregnancy.
In foal to Waikato Stud stallion Pins, Soriano goes into the weight-for-age feature off the back of a string of luckless performances, most recently when bumped and pocketed on the turn in the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile before she was held up in the straight in finishing fifth behind Herbie Dyke rivals Kawi and Stolen Dance.
"All she needs is some luck. I'm thinking about going to church sometime before the race just to help the cause," Howell said.
"She's never been better and it's a shame really she has to finish up because she's still racing as well as ever. I'd hate to think she gets bad luck in the last race of her career."
Trained by Hamilton's Graeme and Debbie Rogerson, Soriano has won nine of her 51 starts, winning on debut as a two-year-old before finishing fourth in the Gr.1 Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie at just her second start.
In all, she won seven stakes races and was 16 times stakes-placed, her first Group One win in the 2014 Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie, aptly in the hands of stable apprentice Rory Hutchings.
Two starts later, she added the Herbie Dyke Stakes and this season she has claimed the Gr.2 double of the Tauranga Stakes and the Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes at Avondale.
"It would be lovely to go out on a high note, especially because if she wins she will bring up $1 million in earnings," Howell said.
"Rory winning [the Zabeel Classic] at Ellerslie was one of the biggest buzzes I've had in racing and then the Herbie Dyke last year because I was there. But there's been some disappointments along the way too. We've lost a few through bad rides.
"But she's going to have a great life as a broodmare. She's done us proud."
Howell reserved special praise for the training partnership of Graeme and Debbie Rogerson, for whom she is also stable manager, for their job in guiding Soriano's career.
"To keep her up so long in this calibre of company is a true testament to their training and the facilities here. She doesn't want for anything, which is Graeme's philosophy for every horse. It's fantastic that she's retiring 100 per cent sound," Howell said. – NZ Racing Desk
(Photo by Trish Dunell)