Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman went close to a group one quinella at Awapuni with a duo they thought were a season away from making their mark at the top level.
Luna Rossa rattled home to claim yesterday's Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes from Sicario with the winner's Cambridge stablemate Saracino a game third.
"They were gutsy runs from both of them," Forsman said.
"Both of them will be better horses with time and they did well to get here, let alone run so well.
"They are both going to make really nice three-year-olds."
Luna Rossa had weighed in at her first three starts, including a late-finishing fifth in the group two Matamata Breeders' Stakes, before her maiden win at Trentham sealed a return to the central districts from her Cambridge base.
She settled toward the back of the field and powered home wide on the track under Lisa Allpress to end her two-year-old preparation on a perfect note.
She is raced by her breeders John, Mark and Rachael Carter and her victory completed a memorable black type double as they also own the group three Manawatu Classic winner Humidor.
The three-year-old ran straight and true to claim top honours, much to the relief of his trainers Johno Benner and Holly Wynyard.
"He's been frustrating because he's always showed us plenty of ability," Benner said.
Humidor won his maiden over a mile at Wanganui in January and then finished runner-up at Te Rapa, where a wayward path in the straight cost him the race, before he was given his chance in the group one New Zealand Derby in which he hung throughout.
His trainers worked hard on getting Humidor to race more kindly and their efforts were rewarded at Awapuni where he gave Mark Du Plessis a much easier ride.
Humidor held a strong gallop in the run home to beat Five To Midnight and the longshot Zbeauty.
- NZ Racing Desk