Saturday, July 17, 2010

Aga Khan's Bekhabad takes Grand Prix de Paris at rain-soaked Longchamp: Arlington hosts Million Preview Day on Saturday

Trainer Jean Claude Rouget and jockey Gerald Mosse won the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris for the second time on Wednesday at Longchamp. There was heavy rain during the day in Paris and the grass was extra soft for the twilight card on Bastille Day. Nine sophomores went to post in the 2400-metre Group I race. At the end of the race, there was reason for jubilation in the Aga Khan camp. Behkabad, carrying the colors of the Aga Khan beat back a strong bid from the 9-4 favorite, Planteur, ridden by Anthony Crastus. Behkabad was ridden by Gerald Mosse who was substituting for the injured Christophe Lemaire. A 5-1 chance with the British bookmakers(9.80 for one euro in the French tote), Behkabad was fourth in the French Derby when Planteur finished second. The Derby placings, therefore, were reversed.

The time was 2 33.3 seconds on rain-soaked turf. Behkabad won by three parts of a length. Aidan O’Brien’s Jan Vermeer, was third and five lengths behind Planteur.

Georges Rimaud, Racing Manager for the Aga Khan, was heartened with the result. “This is his (Bekhabad) real distance and it would be logical to run in the Prix Niel and then the Arc,” Rimaud stated. Coral, the British betting outfit, reacted. Belhabad was made a 10-1 chance for the Arc de Triomphe.

Here is information that fans in India will find interesting. Wednesday’s 8 30 PM (last) race at Longchamp was by Divine Music, a 54/10 chance, ridden by Ronan Thomas. I remember Ronan Thomas riding in India not too long ago.

Doug Whyte became the champion jockey in Hong Long for the tenth consecutive time. As Wednesday’s races began at Happy Valley, Doug Whyte held a 100-98 lead over Brett Prebble. Whyte drew blank for the day. Prebble missed on Jumbo Gold, a banker for many a punter. In the 767th and final race of the season, jockey Prebble connected with Perfect Style. Whyte won 100-99.

John Size, the perennial training leader, added to his rich tally. He has been king of the hill in the training department in Hong Kong.

A note on the International Jockeys’ Challenge held at Istanbul, Turkey, on Wednesday. The five-member visiting team beat the local riders, 86 to 82. Points were based on number of firsts, seconds and so on. Pat Smullen won a race. Ioritz Mendizabal, the French reinsman, won one. Local jockeys won two races.

Here is news, a lot of it from the US. Eibar Coa, 39, has been riding in America since 1993. He is a native of Venezuela. Jockey Coa won race #4,000 with Maddy’s Crowd at Monmouth Park, New Jersey, on July 9. Coa has been leading rider at Monmouth Park in 2001 and 2002. He was also top jock at Calder, Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Gufstream and Tropical at Calder.

“Obviously, you don’t start out thinking you are going to win 4000 or any number of races. You just go out there and do the best you can. When things like this happen, it makes it even sweeter,” jockey Coa thought aloud.

Do you remember Smarty Jones? The Elusive quality colt came into the Kentucky Derby unbeaten. In pouring rain at Churchill Downs, Smarty Jones ran away with the Derby. Stewart Elliott rode. Lakshmi Srinivasan, our host at a Louisville suburb, made a bet on Smarty Jones and made a strong case for Smarty Jones during breakfast at her home Derby morning. Smarty Jones registered an easy victory in the Preakness at Pimlico. Birdstone caught Smarty Jones late in the lane in the Belmont Stakes. I was at Belmont Park on that hot, sultry afternoon and I remember that the pindrop silence that followed Smarty Jones' defeat was deafening. There is a four year-old filly by Smarty Jones who is racing in Japan. Her name is Keiai Gerbera and she won the 1400-metre Procyon Stakes (Grade III) and there was a winner's purse of $435,388. That took Keiai Gerbera's lifetime earnings to $1.162,477. What is so special about this? Keiai Gerbera became the first Smarty Jones progeny to reach the million dollar plateau. She is out of Anna Sterz, a Danzig mare. Keiai Gerbera has now won six times from 10 outings. Smarty Jones, one of Elusive Quality's most illustrious sons, is out of I'll Get Along by Smile. The last named was a sprinter of some repute. Smarty Jones fee this year is $10,000.

We spoke about Eibar Coa. Now, we will recognize a milestone that jockey Thomas Clifton achieved on July 15 at Penn National, a throughbred track in Harrisburg, capital of Pennsylvania. Clifton won the first race with Dinny Dinosaur, a freshman. That gave Clifton the 2,000th winner of his career. In the same card, jockey Clifton rode DJ's Storm to victory in the fifth race to get to 2001.

Soviet Sojourn, dam of Indian Charlie, has been euthanized. Soviet Sojourn was 21 and was suffering from infirmities caused by advancing years. By Leo Castelli out of Political Parfait by Diplomat Way, Soviet Sojourn was trained by Bob Baffert. Indian Charlie won the 1998 Santa Anita Derby, ran third in the Kentucky Derby in the care of Bob Baffert.

Eskendereya is a name that fans will readily recognize. Ante post favorite for the Kentucky Derby, the Giant's Causeway colt was withdrawn from the Run For The Roses because of an injury depriving Mr Ahmed Zayat of Zayat Stables of a chance to win one of horse racing's most coveted prizes. Mr Zayat has been in financial difficulty and his plea for Chapter 11 reorganization has been approved by a competent court. The plan has been approved by Fifth Third Bank, one of Zayat's main creditors, and the others in the list. Chapter 11 lets a business function while there is restructuring of debt. The amount to be paid and the frequency of it and the duration are determined by the bankruptcy judge who relies on a process of consultation between the creditor and debtor.

Mr Zayat spoke. "Chapter 11 was a necessary step. We have emerged stronger and we are excited about building on our many recent successes."

What racing fan has not heard of the Cheltenham Gold Cup? Cheltenham is the mecca of jumps racing. The crown jewel of the Cheltenham Festival held in the second week of March is the Gold Cup. The 1988 edition was won by Charter Party owned by Raymond Mould. On July 14, Mr Mould's house was broken into and the Gold Cup and other trophies were stolen. The Gold Cup has about nine ounces of gold. Mr Mould has announced a reward for information.

We will mention another case of euthanasia and move on to other areas. Dixie Union is no more. The 13 year-old sire was euthanized on July 14. On July 3, Gone Astray, a son of Dixie Union, won Monmouth Park's Salvatore Mile. A son of Dixieland Band, Dixie Union won seven of 12 starts. He won the Haskell, Malibu, Norfolk, Best Pal and the Hollywood Juvenile Championship. Dixie Union's dam was She's Tops by Capote.Dixie Union had 34 stakes winners and his children earned 23.6 million dollars.

William Farish, one-time US ambassador in the UK and principal owner of Lane's End Farm in Kentucky, commented. "We are extremely saddened. He was a beautiful horse and a terrific young sire."

I have a fond recollection of the Dixie family. At Sandown Park in England, on a Thursday in early June in 2005, I clicked on a 13-1 chance, Golden Dixie, a son of Dixieland Band. It was the day before Oaks day at Epsom. If my memory serves me right, Eddie Ahern rode Golden Dixie.

George Steinbrenner died on Tuesday. Bellamy Road, owned by Steinbrenner, was fancied in the 2005 Kentucky Derby but could not deliver. Position Limit, a daughter of Bellamy Road, won a maiden race at Belmont Park on July 14. It was a win posthumously for the Yankees owner. Todd Pletcher trains Position Limit.

Newbury in England hosts two important races on Saturday. Richard Hannon has a strong hand in the Weatherbys Super Sprint. The other event is the Shadwell Stakes. As I type this report in Troy, Michigan, in the morning of July 17, I am listening to the audio commentaries from British tracks. It is about 11 40 AM Eastern Time in the US.

Hollywood Park's big race on Saturday is the $200,000 Grade II Swaps Stakes. The race has added significance because of the return of Sidney's Candy to the racing wars. After winning the Santa Anita Derby, Sidney's Candy had post 20 in the Kentucky Derby and had to be used hard early and had little left when it mattered. Five run in the Swaps, a race over 1800 metres on Hollywood Park's cushion track. Skipshot, Alphie's Bet and Summer Movie who finished first, second and third in the Grade III Affirmed Handicap over 1700 metres on June 19, oppose Sidney's Candy. Mr S K Sagar of Bangalore liked the chances of Sidney's Candy in the Derby and he is a pragmatist. He realized how the outside draw affected Sidney's Candy.

Trainer John Sadler spoke. "He's back to himself. You will see him back on his form. He is ready to go."

Paddy O'Prado won the (turf) Colonial Cup at Colonial Downs on June 19. The Dale Romans trainee is opposed by seven rivals in the Grade II Virginia Derby (turf) at Colonial Downs on Saturday. Colonial Downs is in Kent, Virginia, outside of Washington DC. Interactif, Krypton and Stately Victor are some of the more accomplished foes.Paddy O'Prado ran third in the Kentucky Derby and sixth in the Preakness.

Trainer Romans expressed optimism. "His run in the Colonial Cup was awesome. We are encouraged. Hopefully, he'll run that kind of race right back. He has trained well since."

Belmont Park in New York hosts the Grade III 1200-metre Jaipur Stakes. The purse is $200,000. It is a grass race. It is the final stakes of the meeting that ends on Sunday. Action shifts to Saratoga in upstate New York. Seven run in the Jaipur Stakes and Formidable at 9/5 and Stravinsky at 2-1 are the morning line leaders.

Arlington Park has what is called 'Million Preview' day on Saturday. There is the Grade II American Derby. Workin For Hops, second to Paddy O'Prado in the Colonial Turf Cup, is favored in the $200,000 race. Nine sophomores run in the 1900-metre race. The American Derby is the second leg in the Mid-America Triple. Workin For Hops made it all in the Arlington Classic, the first leg. The Secretariat Stakes is the third leg. All legs are races on the grass.

The second big race is the Grade III (turf) $150,000 Arlington Handicap. It is over 2000 metres. Eleven answer the starter's call. General Quarters heads the field. After winning the Turf Classic on Derby Day at Churchill Downs, General Quarters was third in the Stephen Foster. Rafael Bejarano rides. A leading contender is Marsh Side, a multiple Grade I winner. Just As Well, the 2009 Arlington Handicap winner, has lost seven races in a row and needs a sharp form reversal.

The third race of some consequence on Saturday at Arlington Park is the Grade III (turf) $150,000 Modesty Handicap. Tuscan Evening, Rafael Bejarano, is the heavy favorite in the 1900-metre Modesty. Hot Cha Cha and Rainbow View are the major factors in the six-horse field. Tuscan Evening, who has been sensational in her US races after coming over from England, has been a tough customer on the front end. Rainbow View, champion freshman girl in the UK in 2008 when trained by John Gosden, is trying to regain that form.

Jerry Hollendorfer, trainer of Tuscan Evening, stated, "we wanted to come and see if she likes the course. We are thinking of the Beverly D on Million Day."

On Sunday, we will take a look at the Darley Irish Oaks to be run at the Curragh. There are sixteen three year-old fillies running in the 2400-metre Oaks. Snow Fairy, Meeznah and Remember When, the top three in the Epsom Oaks, are back to do battle.


  1. Dear Tom Krish,
    That was an amazing write up .Indeed you have a unique style of your own that takes the reader on a world tour of race tracks within minutes.
    I was delighted to find my name (reminded me of the horse `Exhileration`) in the midst of famous names of trainers, owner`s,jockeys, horses etc.Thanks.
    In my article on Timeform ratings (Guest column of Indiarace)I had opined that Sydneys Candy may turn out to be among the best 3 yr olds in the middle distance category. I hope he lives up to my expectations in the Swaps Stakes.


  2. I just saw the race `SWAPS STAKES` on YOU TUBE.Dissapointing run by Sydneys Candy, finishing 2nd to Skip shot in poor timing of 1min 49.94 secs on firm ground.I guess he needed a run after more than 10 weeks absence from the race track,and maybe he is only good upto a mile, though he beat Looking at lucky over 1800m.I`ll wait for his next one before writing him off.