Considering Lazarus won last year's New Zealand Cup by 10 lengths in race record time, to suggest that he might be better now borders on insanity.
But judging by what he did in the Kaikoura Cup yesterday there may be some method in that madness.
The champion pacer was crushing in the $50,000 event, sitting parked outside second favourite Titan Banner before racing clear at the top of the straight to smash Terror To Love's national 2400m standing-start record.
Terror To Love, a three-time New Zealand Cup winner, set that record at rocket-fast Ashburton, while Kaikoura, with its flat bends, is not as quick a track. So for Lazarus to trim 0.6 of a second off the record sitting parked around four bends was breathtaking.
So much so he is now set to start the hottest favourite in New Zealand Trotting Cup history at Addington in two weeks.
The TAB reopened him $1.55 to win the Cup after yesterday's demolition but soon took a $20,000 bet so he is now rated a $1.50 chance, uncharted territory for any of the great horses who have contested our most famous race.
Lazarus didn't have to beat his classy stablemates Heaven Rocks, Dream About Me or Have Faith In Me yesterday, with all three likely to have their final Cup lead-ups at Addington on Friday night instead.
But Titan Banner has been one of the form horses of the spring and Lazarus beat him by two lengths yesterday and did so after covering six lengths more and at a stage when he is still be honed to his best.
Which might be why trainer-driver Mark Purdon gave a rare whip salute at the finish; even he realised what Lazarus did yesterday was truly unusual.
The reigning Horse of the Year is likely to have his last public hit-out before the Cup in the Cup trial at Addington on November 8.
Those willing to take the short odds for the Cup can at least relax about his draw, with virtually no chance he can draw the second line because the Cup probably won't have one.
Earlier in the day, Bordeaux showed he was on target for the Dominion at Addington on November 17 when he led for the last mile of the South Bay Trotters Cup to win easily.
He was always the trotter to beat once he led, and held his gait in tight quarters going into the first bend. That suggests he is more mature than last season and will be awfully hard to catch in Addington's premier trot.