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.

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