Moments ago, I read in Racing Pulse that Richard Hughes and Dan Grant will be in Bangalore to ride in the Derby on Sunday. I will call Hughes and Grant in a day or two. I will talk to them about their travel plans and share with you whatever information I get.
Jockey Hughes has been on fire. Winning Group I races is becoming second nature for him. On Sunday at Chantilly, Hughes connected with the Richard Hannon-trained Dick Turpin in the Prix Jean Prat, a 1600-metre race (turf) for three year-old girls and boys. Despite his excellent record this year, Dick Turpin was a 5-1 chance with the British bookmakers. Favoritism went to Lope De Vega who was an odds on choice based on his wins in the French 2000 Guineas at Longchamp and the Derby at Chantilly in early June.
Lope De Vega was prominent and took the lead turning for home and Dick Turpin came calling. The Hannon pupil swept into the lead and the winner of the Prix Jean Prat had been spotted. Siyouni ran on to be the bridesmaid. Xtension saved third. Lope De Vega was eased off and was last of eight runners. Dick Turpin was a 73/10 chance in the French tote and clocked 1 36.3.
The Jean Prat settled a question or two. The aura of invincibility given to Lope De Vega was shattered. Dick Turpin’s first win in a Group I race took him to an elevated position in the sophomore division. Dick Turpin is by Arakan out of Merrily who is by Sharrood.
In April, Dick Turpin beat Canford Cliffs at Newbury. Then came three runner-up efforts. Dick Turpin was second to Makfi in Newmarket’s English 2000 Guineas. There was another bridesmaid role in Longchamp’s French 2000 Guineas. In the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, Canford Cliffs turned the tables on his stablemate. It was, therefore, a well deserved win for Dick Turpin who has now won six races from 11 starts for earnings of 678,833 pounds.
Richard Hughes expressed his happiness. “I’m absolutely delighted for the horse. He deserved a G I and has run some brilliant races. You get some horses like that which never get to win one and finish second all the time. It is great that he has broken the duck. The pressure is off. The only thing we would not want to do was to run him in firm ground but the French water very well and do a very good job.”
Hughes rides at Bath Monday afternoon and drives to Windsor for the twilight card. He has several live mounts. At the moment, he is very much in the mix for the English leading jockey title.
Talking of the jockeys’ race in England, Paul Hanaghan rode only once in Ayr’s Sunday racecard. Jockey Hanaghan, who has a big lead in the standings, was kicked in the face after being unseated by his mount. Hanaghan was medically cleared to ride in the second. He managed a fifth place finish and took the rest of the afternoon off. Hanaghan has several commitments on Monday and it is not known if he will be fit to do duty.
We will take a look at what happened at Woodine in Toronto on Sunday. The feature was the Queen’s Plate, a stakes race honoring the British monarch which was being run for the 151st consecutive year. The atmosphere was electric at Woodbine and it was because Queen Elizabeth II was present at the course. Not too long ago, the Queen was at Churchill Downs to watch the Kentucky Derby. On the lighter side, the Royal meeting at Ascot may not have satisfied the Queen’s racing appetite. She is reaching out to her former colonies. The RWITC should give serious thought to inviting Her Royal Majesty to the Indian Derby at Mahalakshmi in 2011.
It was Big Red Mike who made it all in the 2000-metre Queen’s Plate. The race carried a purse of one million (Canadian) dollars. A 5-1 chance in the Canadian tote, (there are no bookmakers) Big Red Mike set slow fractions. The first 1200 came in 1 14.31 on Woodbine’s polytrack. The tempo quickened then on and Big Red Mike, responding to jockey Eurico Da Silva’s call, would not relinquish the advantage. The winning margin was a length and a half and the time was 2 04.89 seconds.
Hotep took second and Roan Irish managed third. Mobilizer, the 7-2 favorite, had an outside trip and finished 10th of 13 Canada-bred sophomores.
That was back to back wins in the prestigious race for jockey Eurico Da Silva who won in 2009 with Eye Of The Leopard. Big Red Mike is trained by Nicholas Gonzalez. Jockey Da Silva put his feelings into irreplaceable words. “I am proud of both Eye Of The Leopard and Big Red Mike. The horse last year tried so hard. Big Red Mike was so focused. He ran great today. When Hotep pressed me, I tried to nurse my colt along and had a lot of horse turning for home. Winning the Queen’s Plate is great and having the Queen is so special.”
A son of Tenpins, Big Red Mike is out of Regent N Flashy who is by Vice Request. Big Red Mike won his debut in June, the Plate Trial over 1800 metres, and the Queen’s Plate was only his second career start. He was a 9-1 chance in the Plate Trial.
Woodbine is Canada’s premier thoroughbred track. It also conducts harness races. The course has three tracks. One for harness, the other two (polytrack and turf) are for thoroughbreds. There is one building that houses a casino and the second houses the track betting windows and the dining area. Woodbine is opposite the Toronto airport. It is a convenient track to get to. Hastings is another thoroughbred track in Canada. It is in Vancouver, British Columbia, not far from Seattle on the American side. Mr Anil Mukhi lives in Langley and that puts him close to Hastings.
We will now go through Graded action in the US at week’s end. Monday is a general holiday in America because Independence Day fell on a Sunday. There are big races on Monday. Hollywood Park hosted the Grade I American Oaks on Sunday. The 2000-metre race for sophomore girls went to Harmonious ridden by Martin Garcia. A Dynaformer filly out of Jade Tree by Storm Cat, Harmonious is trained by John Shirreffs. Seven ran in the American Oaks and Harmonious was a well backed 5-2 proposition. She won by a length and a quarter in a time of 2 1.77 seconds.
There was bitter irony in the $150,000 American Handicap on Sunday at Hollywood Park. Global Hunter stalked the pace and edged ahead late in the hands of Brice Blanc who, only days ago, had come out of a long drought in Graded races. An A C Avila trainee, Global Hunter ran the 1800 metres in 1 48 and returned $8.00. In a duel with the pacemaking Temple City in the lane, Global Hunter won by a head. A stride or two after passing the line, Global Hunter suffered what may be a career-ending injury. It was reported that there was damage to the right front ankle.
Jockey Blanc spoke. “He just broke down two strides past the wire. He shortened stride and did not give me any warning.”
Compari, the morning line favorite, was withdrawn and it was confirmed that he will be pointed to the Hollywood Gold Cup next week.
We will take a look at other action in the US and may be, I will be able to speak to Hughes and Grant and give you a report. All this and more, we will consider in tomorrow’s piece.