Lighthouse shines in Australian adventure for LNJ Foxwoods

March 3rd, 2022

A bold decision to take on the best turf sprinters in the world with their mare Lighthouse is paying off for prominent American owners Larry, Nanci, and Jaime Roth.

The family team, whose horses race under the LNJ Foxwoods moniker, have made a major impact on North American racing in the last 10 years with horses such as Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) champion Covfefe, Frizette S. (G1) winner Nickname, La Brea S. (G1) winner Constellation, and turf millionaire United.

This weekend they’re hoping to add an Australian Group 1 win to their resume when Lighthouse contests the A$500,000 (about $365,000) Canterbury S. over 1,300 meters (about 6 1/2 furlongs) at Randwick racecourse in Sydney.

By Mizzen Mast, Lighthouse was a $375,000 purchase at the Ocala April sale of two-year-olds, and was sent to the California stable of Simon Callaghan. Racing mostly between five and 6 1/2 furlongs, she put together a 9-3-2-1 record, with her victories including a black-type success in the 6 1/2-furlong 2020 Music City S. at Kentucky Downs.

The Roths, together with their bloodstock advisers Alex Solis and Jason Litt, then decided their mare could do well in Australia. It’s a tough task, as the Australian breeding industry focuses on turf sprinting more than any other in the world and has numerous international successes to show for it.

But with a big mare with natural gate speed and a good closing turn of foot, they have given it a go, and they have been rewarded to date.

Sent to Victoria’s leading trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, Lighthouse made her Australian debut Nov. 3 last year, winning easily. After another two wins, Lighthouse then took out the listed 1,400-meter (about seven-furlong) Chester Manifold S. at Flemington by 1 1/4 lengths.

She then finished second in another listed 1,400-meter event before stepping up to Group 1 level for the 1,400-meter C. F. Orr S., where she was beaten only by the four-time Group 1 winner Tofane.

This weekend Maher and Eustace have taken Lighthouse up to Sydney. Though she cuts back in distance by half a furlong, the likelihood of soft conditions will make it more like a seven-furlong event. She also faces a field that on paper isn’t as strong as the Orr, especially with the scratching of Zaaki, one of Australia’s top horses.

Zaaki’s withdrawal has had the added bonus of freeing up Sydney’s leading jockey James McDonald, who will give Lighthouse every chance.

Two weeks after the Canterbury, Lighthouse is in line for a much more lucrative prize – the $A5 million (about $3.65 million) All-Star Mile in Melbourne, the richest turf mile in the world. Now in its third year, the race follows the model of Japan’s Arima Kinen (G1) in that the first 10 spots in the 15-horse field are decided by public vote, and Lighthouse’s performances plus some lobbying from the stable and her owners saw her gain the ninth automatic spot.

Lighthouse has only raced at a mile once, finishing seventh of nine at Santa Anita in December 2019 as a two-year-old. But she may have more chance of staying a mile as a five-year-old – and potentially earning the Roths a spectacular reward for taking on their Australian adventure.