Trainer Tharun Thimmaiah leading Wind Stream (S Zervan Up), winner of The Mysore Million Gr.3
The first Graded race of the Mysore Main Season was conducted at the local race club on Friday. More than Rupees Two Million was the total stakes on offer in The Mysore Million 2012 (Grade III). Eight three year olds were seen opposing each other in this mile event. Since winners of more than one race were expected to carry penalties, there were some who were getting chunks of weight from the others. Three times winner Treasure Mountain was conceding as much as eight and a half kilos to Simply Stylish. It is often remarked that a good youngster cannot give weight to another talented youngster so early in its career. The final result on Friday proved this point emphatically, as three bottom weighted horses dominated the finish. Padmanabhan trained Unforgettable was the first choice of the punters. His last start-to-finish victory over seven furlongs had shown that the mile was well within his compass. A fast timing had added to the lustre. Jersey Girl's third in the Fillies Championship was a fair effort. Realizing her limitations of stamina, Puttanna had rested her thereafter and refrained from running her in The Kingfisher Derby. Her track trials indicated her readiness to strike. Wind Stream's victory in a maiden's event exactly twenty days ago showed that he was a stout galloper. These three runners were backed to the exclusion of the other five, as the horses reached the starting gates.
Unforgettable got straight down to business and led comfortably from Auburn Beauty, Own Asset and Jersey Girl. Wind Stream and Simply Stylish graced the wrong end of the field as the runners took the rising ground and began to turn for home. Near the final bend, Unforgettable rolled out under pressure, but still maintained his hold over the proceedings. He had managed to shake off his nearest pursuers, and enjoyed a marginal lead over a tired pair of Jersey Girl and Auburn Beauty. It was quite evident that if there was anyone who was going to catch the leader, it had to be someone from the back. Zervan produced Wind Stream on the wide outside, while Ashish brought Simply Stylish towards the inner rails. Both of them overtook Unforgettable at the same juncture, and moved strongly towards the final post. After matching strides for over a hundred metres, Wind Stream got the better of Simply Stylish near the winning post. Zervan's powerful finish had tilted the balance in favour of the winner. Only a "neck" separated the two of them. While Unforgettable finished a respectable third, top-weighted Treasure Mountain ran well to end a gallant fourth. Jersey Girl flopped badly to finish in the ruck. Over the years, The Mysore Million has thrown up some good horses. However, there is none amongst the present lot that inspires confidence.
A fine performance from Ganapathy's Southern Opinion was the other talking point during the afternoon. Running over a mile in The RR Komandur Memorial Trophy, the chestnut sported a pair of wings and sauntered away from his helpless opponents. After his first two victories as a youngster, Southern Opinion was considered to be a Classic contender. He moved to Mumbai before returning to Bangalore in summer. A couple of poor performances in the Summer Classics saw him falling from grace. He was written off by the pundits. Ganapathy deserves to be complimented for transforming him within a short period of time. While it is agreed that he beat nothing of note on Friday, one must look at the finer details. Carrying eight kilos more than the winner of The Mysore Million, he stopped the watch at a timing more or less similar to that clocked by Wind Stream. The fact remains that Wind Stream was flat out, while Southern Opinion won on the bridle. Sreekanth allowed him to overtake Euphoria near the bend. All he did thereafter was to release his grip on the winner. Without being fully extended, Southern Opinion ended more than a distance clear of Faustian and All For Cash. He is sure to be a strong force in the ensuing Mysore Classics.
With a large number of Class III entrants accepting to run over seven furlongs, the handicapper had to split a race into two divisions. A pair of Bangalore based runners, named Fortune Queen and Matias, managed to post authoritative victories. Fortune Queen was the medium of an unsuccessful gamble during the Summer Season. Sharat Kumar had carefully brought her down in handicap over the last one year and the connections had backed her confidently a few weeks ago. Wanting to capitalize on her good form, the seven year old was campaigned within a short period of time. Darius trained Grand Success was a firm favourite in this race. Apart from being a much younger runner, he also possessed a lot of speed. The trainer entrusted him to an apprentice and claimed an allowance. With a light weight on his back, Grand Success tried to set his own pace and went a couple of lengths clear at the bend. Fortune Queen emerged from the chasing pack, and cantered within striking distance of the leader. In a matter of seconds, the race was over. With Rathod using his stick, Fortune Queen proved to be much stronger than Grand Success. Darius may do well by exploiting this beaten favourite over a marginally shorter trip.
However, there was compensation for the Darius camp in the other division of this race. Matias had returned empty-handed from Kolkata, where she had been taken during the winter months. A longish rest and some steady preparation did her a world of good. It was almost a year ago that she had won her last race on the Mysore track. With loads of money flowing in the direction of Cinnamon Rush and Unique Show, Matias started as a totally neglected runner in this race. Imran Chisty rode her with gay abandon and kept her in striking position throughout the trip. She overtook Time To Time, Cinnamon Rush and Corleone near the bend and moved strongly towards the finishing line. The long lead that she established near the distance post came in handy at the end. Despite Suraj Narredu's best efforts, even-money favourite Cinnamon Rush could do no better than finish a tame second. Unique Show progressed nicely from the back to end a close third. She looks like a readymade winner in her next start.
Rank outsider River Gem made every post a winning one in a race reserved for horses in his own age group. Under a whip less Ajeet Kumar, the winner dragged his rider to the front and continued to stay there. Heavily supported Cowboy Cal came with a smooth run near the bend, and at that stage, it looked as though this Md Khan trainee would score with ease. Imran Chisty continued to urge him in the straight and had a tough time in keeping him straight. Cowboy Cal moved towards the outer sand and rolled outwards. He was soon off the race grass and onto the training sand track. This hampered his progress and forced him to slow down. Resultantly, he lost the race by a fraction of a length to River Gem. Beautiful Dancer rallied late to take the third spot ahead of a dis-interested Mr Sunrise.
The lower division of the above race went to the Byramji trained Spark Of Blue. The mare was second favourite behind Stormyred. Because of a tragic incident near the starting gates, Stormyred was declared a non-starter. With Gnaneshwar and Rising Queen showing a lot of urgency, PS Chouhan was content to race Spark Of Blue in second spot. The race was confined to the two of them, as the others were seen struggling at the back. Chouhan put Spark Of Blue under pressure near the furlong marker and asked for a response from her. The five year old got stronger thereafter and managed to go past a tired Rising Queen. An exhausted Vayomi was seven lengths behind in third place. Rising Queen showed that she is capable of winning amongst a local set of runners.
A sprint for horses in class IV saw Darashah's three year old Brave Assault competing against a bunch of older rivals. Since he had won his maiden start in summer, and had never finished off the frame in his other three efforts, Brave Assault was a firm favourite in this race. He was ridden in copybook fashion by Trevor Patel. Because of the heavy load on his back, Brave Assault was held back initially. The lead changed hands between Spark Of Napolean and Perfect Analysis as the dozen runners moved towards the winning post. Brave Assault was given his "head" near the distance post, and the response was almost instantaneous. He came with giant strides and powered away from Spark Of Napolean and Perfect Attitude. This was perhaps the poorest set of opponents that he tackled in his career, and it may take him a while to re-enter the winner's enclosure.
Despite veering out in the straight amongst runners in the lowest class at Mysore, Monnappa's Heart Of Reality scampered home to a narrow victory over Penalty Kick and Lake Of Fortune. The four year old filly had run a good second in her only start during summer, and based on that performance was fancied today. She chased Secret Girl and Heart Of Success till the top of the straight, and went ahead thereafter. With the whipless Vishwanath having little control on her, the filly began her drift towards the outer rails. The youngster persevered with his task and kept pushing her till they crossed the winning post. Penalty Kick hugged the rails and moved menacingly at the end, but her challenge was a trifle short at the wire. A mere "neck' separated the two of them .With a better rider, Penalty Kick will be too-good-to-miss in her next start.