Trainer Imtiaz A Sait leading Deja Vu (S Zervan Up), winner of The Juvenile Sprinters' Million Grade-III
The Juvenile Sprinter's Million (Grade III) was the highlight in a nine event card framed for Sunday's racing action at Bangalore. Despite a smallish field of seven acceptors, the race generated a lot of excitement. The maximum hype centred around Deshmukh's Vijay's Best. Since the stable had been firing on all cylinders this season, and the got-abroad colt had made a fine impression while emerging from the maiden ranks a few weeks ago, it was assumed that he would be good enough to finish ahead of the others. Racegoers had seen Carducci, Gold Glamour and Thunderbay running this season, and they were quite certain that those three would not be able to beat Vijay's Best. Mumbai based challengers Deja Vu and Manyatta were going to run for the first time this summer and they were the unknown commodities in the day's feature. Both of them had been tested in a mock race by their respective trainers. Since Deja Vu had already won twice in his career, he was carrying three kilos more than the others. This somehow dissuaded his fans from supporting him confidently. The rangy Manyatta looked the best in the parade ring, but did it have the class to win the day's feature, was something that would be known only after the race was over. Vijay's Best started as an even-money favourite ahead of Deja Vu and Manyatta.
Barring Vijay's Best, who was a bit sluggish at the gates, the other six led by Deja Vu took off to a level start. Wanting to dictate terms, Sandesh pushed Vijay's Best to the front. The small made horse used his speed to lead from Manyatta, Thunderbay and Carducci. Zervan and Deja Vu were totally unconcerned with the proceedings in front, and were content to race in the rear. Vijay's Best got tired in the straight and crumbled under pressure. He was soon joined and passed by Manyatta. The colt responded to Suraj's whip and strode away from the others. It was eaxactly at this juncture that Zervan made his move. Seizing a yawning gap three horses wide, he brought Deja Vu into contention. Getting him onto an even keel, he asked Deja Vu to quicken. The bay showed remarkable acceleration and gained ground on the leader. He wore Manyatta down with each successive stride, and beat him by a neck at the finish. Imtiaz Siat has done well with this horse, as Deja Vu put up a remarkably improved performance. Vijay's Best ended a poor third ahead of Thunderbay.
On a day when there were a number of tight finishes, the most exciting amongst them was perhaps the duel between Inquisition and Indian Bolt. The fifteen horse race, in which there were three joint favourites in Magnitude Star, Lad King and Inquisition, was expected to be a close affair. Since most of them were closely handicapped, and all three fancied runners were drawn on the wide outside, one could not rule out a surprising result. Flying Tricolour, Magnitude Star and Lad King occupied the front slots, as the closely packed group turned for home.The one that caught the eye at that stage was Inquisition. With Imran Chisty guiding him perfectly through a smallish opening, he took control of the situation, and kicked for home. For a moment, it appeared as though he would extend his margin of victory, but that was not to be. While Inquisition started to slow down, Indian Bolt moved strongly towards him. Sandesh pushed this Inayatulla trainee with all his might. The latter got up virtually on the last stride to gain the honours. Lads Gladiator showed rare stamina to end a very good third.
A couple of interesting races were witnessed in the two divisions of the Smt Bhagirathi Memorial Trophy. The upper version was considered to be a match race between Sun Divine and Eastern Summit. Both of them were attempting to score a third successive victory. On the basis of their past performances, as also the fact that Eastern Summit was running at a level 32 points higher than her previous mark, Neil Darashah's Sun Divine cornered late support with the bookmakers. Suraj took a smart jump with Sun Divine and had him nicely balanced behind a runaway Methodical as the runners tackled the first half of their journey. Eastern Summit, Violent Storm and Yamas were right behind them as they turned for home. Sun Divine took his while to quicken and this allowed Eastern Summit to join him in front. Jocket DaSilva's posture in the saddle gave a clear indications of things to come. On tight reins, the filly lengthened her strides and sailed clear of the field. Violent Storm came charging in the final stages to deprive Sun Divine of his second berth. In her present form, Eastern Summit should win again on promotion.
A near calamity at the starting gates resulted in the defeat of Absolute Majority on Sunday. The big built horse had won his only career start in the month of May, and was now running in handicap company. His superiority over the others was reflected in the betting rings. The on-money favourite walked calmly into the starting gates. Soon after the last horse was loaded, Absolute Majority began to play up. The loaders tried to settle him by holding him down, but were apparently unsuccessful in their efforts. The hasty manner in which the starter flagged them off from the gates was surprising. Absolute Majority's front legs were close to the roof of the starting gates, as the others got down to racing. The favourite lost many lengths at that stage. Suraj tried to catch up with the field, and managed to do so. However he was unable to go near Own Asset, who had established a winning lead into the straight. DK Ashish rode a neat race on this Ganapathy trained winner. The favourite was good enough to go ahead of Union Jack and Spaniard while taking the second place. Those who had backed him today must continue to support him in his next start.
A superb three-way finish was witnessed in the only maiden event this afternoon. Trainer Padmanabhan's fashionably-bred Petite Fleur was the hot rage, and the filly was backed at all prices to start as a firm favourite ahead of Boudicca, Will Star and My Law. She was a bit slow into her strides at the gates, and this forced Sandesh to manouvre his way past some no-hopers. Boudicca and Will Star had established a good lead near the bend. Petite Fleur stuck to the rails, and her rider was hoping for an opening. However, it failed to materialize. With less than two furlongs to travel and nowhere to go, Sandesh had no option but to pull her off the rails and bring Petite Fleur into contention. Boudicca on the rails, Will Star in the centre and a fast finishing Petite Fleur beside the two of them, were alongside as they crossed the winning post. The digital camera confirmed that Will Star had finished marginally ahead of Petite Fleur and Boudicca. Although she is small-built, Petite Fleur is sure to win her share of races.
After a number of unsuccessful efforts over the last couple of seasons, Arjun Mangalorkar's Free Law finally entered the winner's enclosure. The RS Nagendra Kumar Memorial Trophy, a sprint for horses four years old and over in class III, was expected to be a closely fought affair. Sunday Cruz, Free Law, Brabus Speed, Mitraya and Cinnamon Rush had strong support from their respective yards. On their best known form, each one of them looked capable of lifting this trophy. With Ultimate Fantasy showing the way to Sunday Cruz, Mitraya and Free Law in the back-stretch, the runners began to huddle-up in the straight. By displaying a sharp turn of foot, Sunday Cruz burst clear of the pack. However, he was unable to sustain that effort. With John making free use of his whip, Free Law rallied powerfully to go ahead of him. The nearest challenger appeared in the form of Brabus Speed. The four year old made a feeble bid on the wide outside, and settled for the runner-up berth.
Last outing winner Invincible Shot put up another speedy performance to land the lower version of this event. Here again, it was an Arjun Mangalorkar trained horse that headed the betting boards. Effectual had narrowly lost her only start this season to Red Bolt. Since the winner had gone on to win again on promotion, Effectual's chances looked rosy in this race. On an afternoon when most of the favourites had got beaten, Effectual was another one to join this list. She ran listlessly and ended a tame third. Second favourite Lads Ability tried to make both ends meet, but was unable to succeed in his mission. With Ryan Marshall riding a tactically different race today, Invincible Shot rallied from mid group and showed some rare acceleration near the post. He got up in time to put his neck in front of the leader.
The only other race in the day's card was won by Irfan Ghatala's Diamonite. She had taken down a lot of money only a week ago, when she had stumled and parted company with her rider Suraj Narredu. The pair was the half money choice of the railbirds once again today. Those who expected her to win easily were in for a surprise. After travelling easily in mid division till they skirted the bend, Suraj brought her with a flourish on the wide outside and tried to go ahead of the leaders. However, Rajendra and Forest Spirit wouldn't allow that to happen. They fought back on the inside and matched strides till the wire. Diamonite was lucky to find her head in front of Forest Spirit at the all important end. Real Steel could do no better than finish a tame third.