Favoured fillies Velocious and Bellatrix Star have strengthened their status as headline acts for Saturday’s $NZ1m Karaka Millions 2YO (1200m) after drawing neighbouring midfield gates for the 17th running of the lucrative juvenile feature.

Velocious landed gate seven and Bellatrix Star gate six. With the emergency Damask Rose (NZ) (Savabeel) drawing the inside barrier, the favoured pair will both move in by one gate if there are no scratchings.

Velocious is trained by Stephen Marsh for syndicators Go Racing. The same combination teamed up to win this race in 2013 with Ruud Awakening.

Go Racing paid $NZ190,000 to buy Velocious from the draft of breeders Inglewood Stud at Karaka 2023, and she has had three starts for two stylish wins, a Group 2 placing and $106,500 in stakes.

Bellatrix Star was offered by Phoenix Park at Karaka 2023, where she was bought for $80,000 by Te Akau Racing’s David Ellis in partnership with Fortuna Racing.

Ellis and Fortuna joined forces to win this race with the great Melody Belle in 2017.

That started an extraordinary streak of Karaka Millions-winning two-year-olds bought by Ellis at Karaka, which now stands at seven in succession – Melody Belle, Avantage, Probabeel, Cool Aza Beel, On The Bubbles, Dynastic and Tokyo Tycoon.

Bellatrix Star has strong credentials to join that honour roll, recording two wins and two placings from four starts to date including an impressive last-start success in the Group 2 Eclipse Stakes (1200m).

Bellatrix Star heads a five-strong team in this year’s race for Te Akau trainers Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson.

They also have a potential X-factor colt in Cool ‘N’ Fast, who is a brother to the 2020 Karaka Millions 2YO winner Cool Aza Beel and was a bold winner on Boxing Day in his only start.

He has drawn gate four and will be ridden by five-time Karaka Millions 2YO winner Opie Bosson.

When Stars Align and Damask Rose also boast perfect one-from-one records and are drawn gates nine and one respectively.

Te Akau’s other runner is Maracatu, whose three-start career has produced a win, a second and a fourth and who has drawn 11.

Beau Dazzler was a Listed winner in Brisbane last month and will attempt to join Sister Havana, Ockham’s Razor and Hardline as the fourth Australian-trained winner of this race. But he will need a slice of luck from gate 14.