Sunday, January 17, 2016

Ruia Cup at Mahalakshmi on Sunday

I like a horse a great deal in Sunday’s first race in Mumbai. It is Captain Abdon. As I look at the Original Vel book, Captain Abdon, in six starts has been worse than fourth only once. In Race 44, with S A Amit up, Captain Abdon was a winner at 20/1. His key victim was Kandinsky who was winner in his next outing. Entrusted with the public purse in an accident-marred Race 104, Captain Abdon, again in the hands apprentice Amit, was a length and a half adrift.

On Sunday, Captain Abdon is set to carry 59 ½ kgs and has drawn seven in the 11-horse field. The distance is 1200 metres. Consistency and readiness are the key elements and the entire cause is strengthened by the presence of A Sandesh in the saddle. The trainer is quite willing to give up the apprentice allowance and that is a measure of the connections’ confidence.

Spanish Saga had to go to 1-26 to win Race 62. In Race 116, Spanish Saga was a length and quarter off in third when running on promotion.

On current form, the first race, in my view, is confined to Captain Abdon and Spanish Saga. The Captain has done much better at Sunday’s level and with the switch to Sandesh, my vote goes to him.

In the second race, my choice is Magnolia. Dismissed at 10/1 in her debut as a four year-old, Magnolia ran fourth and was eight lengths off the winner. In Race 116 in Mumbai, Magnolia, now a five year-old mare, was the 11/10 favorite with N S Parmar. She was fourth again beaten a length and a quarter and she runs again in ten days.

Sunday’s jockey is Jim Crowley, It is Crowley’s first ride in India. As he left London late Friday for Mumbai, jockey Crowley won with his last two mounts at Loingfield Park. The fact that Magnolia was the 11/10 chalk tells a story. With Crowley in the saddle, it is reasonable to think that Magnolia will be able to elevate her game. Post 10 in the 1600-metre race will not be a handicap. It is not a given as Rain Dance, Azadegan, and Top Wizard check in fit for the fray. Normal progression is what Magnolia needs to deliver.

A word or two on Teofilo, Magnolia’s sire.  A son of Galileo, Teofilo was the champion two year-old in Europe in 2006. He ran five times and won all those races.  In the Group I National Stakes, Teofilo beat Holy Roman Emperor at the Curragh. Holy Roman Emperor went to Paris and was victorious in the Lagardere, Europe’s richest race for freshmen. In a rematch in Newmarket’s Dewhurst Stakes, Teofilo gained a narrow verdict over Holy Roman Emperor. Teofilo was made the early favorite for the 2007 Two Thousand Guineas and the Epsom Derby. An injury three weeks before the 2000 Guineas took him out of England’s first Classic and a promising career ended. A stallion, Teofilo is beginning to enjoy some success.

Paddy Power, the Irish betting behemoth, refunded the Guineas and Derby ante post wagers made on Teofilo because of the Irish connections. Jim Bolger, trainer of Teofilo, called the Galileo colt the best he had trained. Bolger rated Teofilo better than St Jovite. A son of Pleasant Colony, the Bolger-trained St Jovite won the Irish Derby in 1992 and also the King George VI Stakes at Ascot that summer. St Jovite, 27 years of age, died on Friday.

Let us now take a look at the sixth race, the 2000-metre R R Ruia Gold Cup. Phoenix Tiger is a tiger on the loose. His appetite is growing. The Phoenix Tower colt has won five races from six starts. The Todywalla pupil is yet to taste defeat with Colm O’Donoghue in the irons. Phoenix Tiger’s win in the 2000 Guineas was impressive. He did what needed to be done to win. The 2000-metre trip should not be a problem. O’Donoghue is a world class rider. He is capable of making smart decisions. Yes, there are worthy adversaries but Phoenix Tiger is in a class of his own. I do not see any chinks in his armour.

Airco is an above average sort but it is clear that he is not in the classic mould. Colombiana is one step below the required level but the Nanda-owned colt tries hard every time. The sparingly raced Gestapo is two for two and the son of Mastercraftsman has the services of Jim Crowley. Gestapo shows considerable promise but he lacks the exposure and experience of Phoenix Tiger. Jefferson has had some battling successes but I believe he needs to elevate his game a great deal to be effective. Magnificence lacks the tools to be a viable threat. Ostwind, the only horse in the Ruia field to have beaten Phoenix Tiger in Bangalore, gets Suraj Narredu. A son of Holy Roman Emperor, Ostwind has not kept pace in terms of development with his more accomplished rivals. Saker comes off a win in Race 16 in Mumbai and that was a 2000-metre race for 40-66 players. There is no question Saker is in deeper waters in the Ruia Cup. Sea Lord has a record that would normally be enviable  but he has to reach new levels to have a shot. Sentosa Cove, a Teofilo gelding, is yet to show the potential that would make him a frontline contender.

The Magician is another I like in Sunday’s tenth race. He was a going-away winner in Race 102. He steps up and has drawn four. It was an optimism-generating victory. I believe The Magician can make another winning bid.

In Hyderabad, Vijay Vaishnavee goes for a hat trick in the opener. Given her cracking form and with P S Chouhan up, the daughter of Yeats, looks home and dry. Yeats won the 4000-metre Gold Cup at Royal Ascot four years in a row from 2006 to 2009.

Vijay Vidhata is in burning form and is the one to stop in the third  race.

The Healer figures to be a deserving favorite  in the fourth. The Healer is by Lord Shanakill. Jim Crowley’s Group I winner in France is Lord Shanakill. Jockey Crowley makes his Indian debut at Mahalakshmi on Sunday. A coincidence worthy of mention.

Good luck

Monday, January 4, 2016

Costa Del Sol and Dancing Prances highly impressive

That was an imperious display by Costa Del Sol in Mumbai on Sunday. It was a five-horse field. The only worthwhile adversary was Bullrun, the Pune Derby winner. Trevor Patel stayed several lengths off the lead, made headway with 800 metres left, pounced on Bullrun who had taken over in the lane and drew away. Costa Del Sol’s record speaks for itself.


At this point, Phoenix Tiger and Costa Del Sol, in my opinion, sit atop the pecking order in the ‘Classic’ division. The Indian Derby is about four weeks away.


Dancing Prances made mincemeat of his rivals in the Bookmakers’ Association Million over 1200 metres. The six year-old gelding by Ace has struck a purple patch. Gold Bag, reunited with Suraj Narredu, had a large following. Jockey Sandesh elected to hold Dancing Prances up. He angled out straightening for home and swept past the front runners in effortless fashion. It was an awesome performance. Gold Bag was outclassed and outpaced.


Intelligence had won in Hyderabad and failed in her next start in Bangalore. She carried top weight in the 1400-metre Squanderer Double Stakes for horses rated 60-86. Trevor Patel got Intelligence alertly away from the gate. Intelligence set a ‘friendly’ pace and had enough left when a bunch of challengers made their bids.


Personify came out of stall 12 in the 1600-metre Bright Hanover Double Stakes. Excolence and Angelic Aria were in a duel in the final 300 metres and the former was emerging the winner. Neeraj Rawal, on Excolence, was hoping the wire would come to his rescue. It was not to be. An energy-drained Excolence was passed by Personify and jockey Sandesh. The Dr MAM Trust-owned Personify unleashed a sparkling turn of foot. I will put Personify in my notebook for an encore.


In the Greater Mumbai Police Cup, Schiehaillon had what appeared to be a winning lead but suffered a life-threatening injury and came to a halt. Advance To Contact landed the generous odds offered on him.


Cavalia and Dasrath Singh grabbed the lead leaving from post 12 in the 12-horse field in the 1600-metre Pradeep Vijayakar Cup. Cavalia was so well rated by Dasrath Singh that the Chevalier filly kept finding more in the stretch. She ran out an easy winner. It has to be borne in mind that Cavalia won in 1-26 company. Given the manner of winning, she may have a chance on promotion.


In Chennai on Sunday, the Hyderabad betting ring was large enough. The Mumbai ring was congested. You cannot move around. You get pushed. My suggestion is that the entire ring be used. It will give fans much needed breathing room.


There is more wagering on Chennai races and more than one bookmaker told me that the Chennai races are attracting more attention. It is a positive development.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year's Day!

The decision to take B Fifty Two down on Thursday in Mumbai was appalling, egregious and in total violation of the principle of ‘fairness.’

Taking a winner down is done only if the evidence is overwhelming. The evidence presented was anything but overwhelming. The opinion of the paid stipes was disregarded. Yes, Sandesh leaned in and Khayyam and Trevor Patel may have been inconvenienced. Trevor is a good rider and I am sure he is extra smart. He did not react. He over reacted. He had an objection in mind. Khayyam was simply not equal to the task.

Whatever happened, as alleged by Trevor, did not stop Khayyam from winning the race. ‘Incidental contact’ is something we see all the time. You cannot take the winnings of a fan who wagered on B Fifty Two. Penalize Sandesh for poor riding, injudicious riding, reckless riding and whatever other phrase you can coin. Do not punish the fans.

B Fifty Two was a deserving winner. It is sacrilege to disqualify a winner in the absence of evidence without a shadow of a doubt.

I was reminded of an old story. A wolf and a lamb were getting their water from a vertical stream. The lamb was at a lower level. The wolf complained that the lamb was muddying up the water. The lamb pointed to the fact that the wolf was at a higher level. The wolf, intent on finding an excuse to make the lamb his next meal, said that the lamb’s father would have muddied the water. A moment later, the wolf pounced on the defenseless lamb.

The investigating authority was intent on giving the race to Khayyam. The deliberation was needlessly long. It was such a blatant abuse of power. I wish I knew what the motivation was.

This is what I want to say about Friday’s Bangalore races. I visited Martin Dwyer in October when my wife and I were in England. Martin showered praise on trainer Padmanabhan.

In the seventh race, Brabus and David Allan made it all. Brabus comes from Padmanabhan’s yard. In the eighth, Sun Moon And Stars, despite being on the shelf for 12 months, was the favorite. Held up and let loose in the final 300 metres, Sun Moon And Stars, a four year-old filly by Burden Of Proof, came with a withering run to pass the front horses. Given the manner of winning, Sun Moon And Stars, the form she is in, can get an encore.

Reflect for a moment on how good a trainer must be to get a horse race-ready after 365 days and Padmanabhan is atop that distinguished list.

David Allan, after riding in India as the winter campaigns got under way, went to England to sort out his work permit. He has come back and struck with two winners. There is a lot more to come.

Dare To Dream defied conventional wisdom by getting the better of Azzurro. The latter  had a tremendous advantage in weights. Imran Chisty and Dare To Dream raced well away from the lead and moved with 400 metres to run. Azzurro fought for a stride or two. That was the extent of the resistance. The lesson is that Dare To Dream has improved beyond recognition. Tested theories go awry and that is the reason we wager on the outcome of a race.

Let us take a look at Saturday’s Bangalore card.  The Padmanabhan-Allan speeding train has steam left. Iceglow can win the first race giving the duo a natural hat trick.

In the third, Iron Will, a Padmanabhan trainee, makes his debut. A three year-old colt by Arazan, Iron Will is likely to be the public choice. Bred for speed, Iron Will can give David Allan his fourth winner in as many steers.

Cadillac Sky is in the third race. Her sire is Summer Bird. Owned by Dr K K Jayaraman and Vilasini Jayaraman, Summer Bird won the Belmont Stakes, the Travers at Saratoga and the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont in 2009. He was second to Rachel Alexandra in Monmouth Park’s Haskell Invitational. Summer Bird’s final race was in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita. Zenyatta won and Summer Bird was fourth. Taken to Japan for the Japan Cup dirt, Summer Bird suffered an injury and did not race again. I am writing this because Summer Bird has a strong Indian connection.

Super Strong is the one to beat in the fourth. A winner last time out, Super Strong, faces a field lacking in depth. His form should carry the day. Suraj Narredu will ride.

Angel Dust is my pick in the sixth race, the Bangalore Oaks. An upset winner in the summer Bangalore Derby, Angel Dust flopped in Hyderabad and then ran second to Starlet in Bangalore in the 1000 Guineas. I do not know how to account for the Hyderabad race. There is no question that she has the best overall credentials. Trevor Patel will be on board.

In the seventh race, I like the chances of Shivalik Star. The Arjun Mangalorkar-trained Shivalik Star comes off a resolute win against most of his adversaries. The weight is eminently manageable. I am expecting a repeat victory for Shivalik Star.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Volkswagen Steering Column problem

This blog is about how I handled a car problem.


Here is the chronology of events. A Volkswagen Vento (petrol or gasoline model) was bought from Sundaram Motors in Chennai in April 2011. The original owner sold the car in 2013. I bought the car from a reputed used car dealer in December 2013.


In March 2015, we noticed a tightening of the steering wheel. An effort was needed to turn the steering. It began to stick. We took the car to Sundaram Motors for scheduled maintenance. We asked the Service Department to take a look at the problem. We were told that the steering was absolutely fine.


Move the clock forward. It is July 2015. We get drivers from the Top Four service in Chennai. I am not able to drive in Chennai. Driver after driver, without being asked, told us that there was a problem with the  steering. As the steering was turned, right or left, we could hear ‘tick tick tick.’ We feared  that the steering could pose a safety issue.


We found out that the battery was failing. A new battery was installed. Our car has an electro-magnetic steering.  My fond hope was that the new battery was what the doctor had ordered and that it would correct the steering. I was not lucky. The problem did not go away.


Soon after, the car was taken to Sundaram Motors. The car was kept for three days. Then the verdict was delivered. 

The entire steering column had to be replaced. The cost was about 65,000 Rupees. I asked Sundaram Motors if I could get help in view of the fact that the car had been on the road for a little over four years. The steering column is not a part that is subject to ‘wear and tear’ like a tire or a belt. Further, in a car like Volkswagen, having a serious problem with the steering column in a span of four years from the time of sale, is not a good advertisement for the brand. Above all, the car had only 20,000 kilometres. My plea fell on deaf years.


I sent an email to Volkswagen’s main office in Germany. A reply came in a matter of hours. “We want to help you. We want to keep you as a customer. It is difficult for us to make decisions from here. We are instructing our Mumbai office to take up your predicament with the Chennai dealer. We assure you that Volkswagen will do everything possible to resolve the issue in keeping with our standards and to your satisfaction.”


I received an email from Mumbai.  I got a call from Sundaram Motors. I was asked to bring the car to the dealer for inspection. After a (test) drive, the problem was confirmed.  Mr Srinivasan, the Customer Satisfaction Manager, and Mr Sudhakar, Service Manager, met me. I explained my situation. They listened patiently. I was promised that some help will be offered and a decision will be conveyed in two weeks.


The two-week time frame passed. I called and began to put (gentle) pressure. Mr Srinivasan sent an email. “Sundaram  Motors will meet you halfway. If you  paid 50% of the bill, the steering column will be replaced. There will be a two year warranty on the work done.”


My wife and I agreed. The car was taken to the dealer on a Tuesday morning. The repair was done. I picked up the car late Wednesday. The car has been handled by one Top Four driver. He gave the steering a clean bill of health.


Mr Srinivasan called to find out what was happening. We expressed our satisfaction.


What is the lesson? Do not give up. Sundaram Motors could have given me the 50-50 deal but it was done only after Germany (main office) got involved. If there are avenues you can take, please explore them. Be polite but firm. Our perseverance paid off.


Mr Srinivasan, I would now like to call him the Customer Extreme Satisfaction Manager, was very helpful. My wife and I express our appreciation.          

Friday, September 4, 2015

It is Yash Narredu's day At Pune

It is a tricky card on Saturday in Pune. However, I have some picks.


In the second race over 2400 metres, my selection is The General. The Mallesh Narredu trainee was a comfortable winner two back in Pune. He had the beating of Aquamarine who was an easy winner last Sunday although running with her kind. In his second Pune venture, The General was overmatched. It was the race that Amazing Grace won. To be ridden by Yash Narredu, The General returns to handicap company on Saturday. Okavango’s form leaves a lot to be desired. Caesar’s Star has not won in ages. Al Shamsheer, a son of Yeats who won the Ascot Gold Cup four years in a row from 2006 to 2009,  is likely to set the pace. Yash should not let Al Shamsheer get away with slow fractions. That is how Al Shamsheer beat the streaking Zazou in the waning days of the Mumbai campaign. Yash should tackle Al Shamsheer early enough. There is no denying that The General is the best on current form. Pace will be the key.


In the third, my selection is Zahrazan. The  daughter of Arazan broke the duck in her Pune debut. She came out of post 13 and was on the lead in a matter of strides. In her next outing, despite drawing the fence, Zahrazan could do no better than take fourth.  Zahrazan is a free-wheeling type and was in tight quarters and failed to put her best foot forward. The horses finishing ahead of Zahrazan  have all performed well in Pune in recent weeks. On Saturday, Zahrazan comes out of post 12 in the 1000-metre race. Yash Narredu needs to show alacrity. Blasting out and getting the lead will be critical.


Enthralling was  an eye-catching winner last time out. Raghubir Singh, an apprentice claiming a five-kg allowance, is Enthralling’s rider. Post one is a big blessing but why seek an apprentice’s services to get the weight benefit? That is not exactly a vote of confidence in the horse.


Abbey is my choice in the sixth. In her second career start in Mumbai as the season was ending, Abbey, a Phoenix Tower filly, was three parts off the winner. Running after a layoff, Abbey dismissed the strongly-fancied  Magnum Opus with an eye-popping make-it-all effort. The three year-old filly has drawn three and has Yash Narredu in the irons. I believe that there is more to come.


Abigail left the maiden ranks in Mumbai. She was scratched two weeks ago in Pune with a swelling issue and that is a red flag. Fitness questions linger. Phoenix Fire, a last outing winner, returns and is a player. He dug deep to repel the bud from Magnum Opus. On the other hand, Abbey handled Magnum Opus with little or no fuss.


The final pick is Dramarama in the eighth race. She was unplaced in the 1000 Guineas on December 18, 2014. She returned to the racing wars on March 7, 2015. Carrying top weight (20-46) in a 1400-netre race, Dramarama,  Colm O’Donoghue up, won in effortless fashion. The Phoenix Tower four-year-old goes in a 40-66 race on Saturday. She has above average ability. She runs well when fresh. She has drawn six and that makes a lot of options available to her.


You will see that, in general, I favor repeat winners. There is no substitute for current form. What you see is what you get in horse racing. Stick with what is known and avoid traversing unknown territory.                  

Trail-blazing English trainer Clive Brittain announces retirement

There is an Indian connection to the Group I Betfred Sprint Cup to be run at Haydock Park on Saturday, September 5, 2015.  Gordon Lord Byron will carry the Poonawalla colors in this prestigious contest. The Poonawalla torchbearer won the Sprint Cup in 2013. He was the bridesmaid in 2012 and 2014.  Gordon Lord Byron has won 12 races in his career and three of those wins have come in Group I events.



Aaday, winner of three races in his last four starts and victorious in Newbury’s Group II Hungerford Stakes, is the favorite at 6/1. Co-owned by Dr Cyrus Poonawalla and Morgan Calahan, Gordon Lord Byron is the 8/1 third choice.  There are 17 runners in the 1200-metre race.


Wayne Lordan, the Irish ace, rides Gordon Lord Byron. Tom Hogan trains the productive seven year-old. Coming off a third place finish in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville, Gordon Lord Byron has been working well. Trainer Hogan expressed satisfaction. “Gordon Lord Byron worked extremely well last Tuesday and I’m very happy with him. He likes flat tracks like Haydock and Deauville.”


On Saturday, Saratoga in upstate New York, hosts two Grade I races. Freshman girls are in the spotlight in the 1400-metre Spinaway Stakes. Six go postward.


Eight run in the 1800-metre Woodward Stakes. Liam’s Tap, second to Honor Code in the Whitney Stakes, is in fine fettle and is the one to beat.


Del Mar’s feature on Saturday is the Grade I Debutante Stakes for two year-old fillies. Eleven answer the starter’s call in this contentious race.


Clive Brittain, 81, is calling it quits. A legend in the British training fraternity, Mr Brittain has been a trailblazer. In 1985 when the Breeders’ Cup was only run for the second time, he won the Fillies-Mares Breeders Cup Turf (2400) with Pebbles at Aqueduct. That was the first time a British trainer had won a Breeders’ Cup race. The incomparable Pat Eddery was the rider for Pebbles.


Perhaps the most notable Brittain accomplishment in the US was the runner-up effort from Bold Arrangement in the 1986 Kentucky Derby.


I  spoke To Mr Brittain in 2003 at Epsom Downs after his Warrshan (by Caerleon) had won the Coronation Cup. It was that first Friday in June in 2003 that Martin Dwyer won three races including the Oaks with Casual Look. Warrshan got an encore in the Coronation Cup in 2004.


Jupiter Island, a Brittain pupil, won the 1986 Japan Cup. It was another feather in Mr Brittain’s cap.


It was in 2005 in Tokyo that I got to chat  with  Mr Brittain for a few minutes. Warrshan was in the Japan Cup (grass) field. Alkaseed won that race in a photo finish from Heart’s Cry.

Clive Brittain made a statement. “I am retiring at the end of this season. I have had a good innings and enjoyed nearly all of it. It has been a fantastic life and lifestyle but it has come to the time where I want to retire.”


          Ahmed Zayat, American Pharoah’s owner, has confirmed that his Triple Crown champion will go in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. “We’ll run him in the Classic. My concern was about American Pharoah’s condition because he did not run his ‘A’ race in the Travers. He, however,   has come out of it in great shape. There was a combination of factors that prevented him from doing his absolute best. I think he can run  his best again and deserves the chance to do so.”


Beholder is a likely prospect. She is the indisputable ‘distaff queen’ at the moment.


Gleneagles, from Aidan O’Brien’s yard, skipped York’s Juddmonte International because of soft ground. The English 2000 Guineas hero is supposed to go in the Irish Champion Stakes on September 12 at Leopardstown subject to the course being satisfactory. Another target is the Q E II Stakes on October 17 at Ascot on Champions’ Day. Trainer O’Brien has said that Gleneagles  will be in the Breeders’ Cup Classic line up at Keeneland on October 31. It is a leap of faith. That will be the first time that Gleneagles will go on dirt. If Aidan O’Brien, the maestro that he is, cannot make his colt manage the transition, who else can?


I am fortunate. My wife and I will be in Lexington for the Breeders’ Cup extravaganza.    

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Keen Ice has the last laugh in the 146th Travers

As the horses were being stalled for the 1986 Arc De Triomphe at Longchamp in 1986, the BBC ( there was a commentary in English for the British fans) commentator made a statement. “The favorite here is Dancing Brave. He has won several races but the Epsom Derby (1986) will be spoken about more for his loss than the victory for Shahrastani.”


Dancing Brave, with Greville Starkey,  came from out of the blue and failed to catch Shahrastani who had taken over with less than a quarter mile to run.  The race was run in June. The two met at Longchamp in October 1986. Pat Eddery rode Dancing Brave and won the Arc with a well-timed stretch charge.


This is what happened on Saturday at Saratoga, USA. American Pharoah was conquered by Keen Ice in the 146th Travers Stakes. American Pharoah, the 2015 Triple Crown Champion, was seeking his ninth win in a row. Keen Ice had made a winning debut and had been beaten in the next eight outings. It was an upset of enormous proportions. The 146th Travers will be more remembered for the defeat of American Pharoah than for Keen Ice’s victory.


American Pharoah’s loss is in keeping with the ‘graveyard of champions’ notoriety. Gallant Fox, Whirlaway and Secretariat failed to break Saratoga’s tradition. American Pharoah  now has become the latest addition to that list that is growing ever slowly.


Keen Ice, a 16/1 outsider, raced in fifth as American Pharoah, the 35/100 favorite, set out on a start to finish mission. The quarter came in 24.28.  The half (800 metres) was in 48.30. The numbers convey that American Pharoah was in his comfort zone but Frosted, who had run second in the Belmont Stakes, was putting pressure on the leader. Victor Espinosa, committed to the lead, asked American Pharoah for more. Keen Ice was not going away. The three quarters (1200 metres) came in 1 11.48. Turning  for home, American Pharoah had seen Frosted off. He had a lead of about two lengths as raced inside the last eighth. Jockey Espinoza could realize that the Triple Crown champion was leg weary. The winning post did not come soon enough. The party-ruining Keen Ice, responding to jockey Javier Costellano, was gaining ground. In the final 100 yards, it was clear that Keen Ice would win. The margin was three parts if the length and the time was 2 01:57. 


It must be noted that the Kentucky Derby time was 2 03.02. There was no pressure-free lead. Plus the 18,000-mile back and forth air trips was a contributing factor.


Dale Romans trains Keen Ice. He had thanked the Saratoga management for capping the attendance at 50,000 so that there would not be a bigger number  booing when Keen Ice lowered American Pharoah’s colors. Was it a funny thing to say? Was it a prophetic statement?


Jockey Castellano was winning his fifth Travers Stakes. He said, “I followed those two (American Pharoah and Frosted) and I just kept tracking them. I saw them coming back to me turning for home. I knew I had a chance. My horse ran a hard race and to beat American Pharoah, that’s a good race.”


Victor Espinoza made a matter of fact statement. “May be it was a just little too much those three weeks, flying back and forth. I knew I was in trouble some way to go.”


Trainer Bob Baffert is a thinking man. “You never know how the horse is feeling until he runs. American Pharoah travelled and trained well. I could tell by Victor’s body language that he was done at the half mile pole. The only reason he was second, it’s because he’s such a great horse. The winner ran a really great race.”


“My gut feeling is we should retire him. He is not the American Pharoah I know,”  Owner Ahmed Zayat emphasized.


Keen Ice is by Curlin out of Medomak who is by Awesome Again. Curlin won the 2007 Preakness Stakes and won the 2008 Dubai World Cup.


It is jockey Castellano’s comment that sums up the Travers story. “Anything can happen in horse racing. That is what makes this a great game. American Pharoah is a great horse. Take nothing away from him.”


In other news, jockey Lindsay Charnock has died. He was 60. He rode primarily in Northern tracks in England. He rode with considerable success in Calcutta. He is a brother in law of Richard Alford.


Bart Cummings has passed away. A legend in the training profession, Cummings won 12 Melbourne Cups. His last win in the ‘Cup’ came with Viewed in 2008. Cummings was 87. He won 266 Group I contests.