PUNE–India’s two foremost stallions, Usha Stud’s Northern Dancer horse Razeen and Poonawalla Farms’ Placerville, a son of Mr. Prospector, died within a week of each other recently. Razeen, who was 24 at the time of his death, was in pink of health and died of a heart attack in the breeding shed, a day after the new covering season commenced last week. Placerville, three years his junior, had been under the weather for sometime. He died over the weekend.
The two stalwarts had almost parallel careers. Both were born in Kentucky; both were sons of legendary sires; both were trained by Henry Cecil at Newmarket; and both had five starts in England (Steve Cauthen riding Razeen in all his races and Pat Eddery being aboard Placerville in his five) and both won three races each. Razeen, who did have a brief career of four races at 4 in U.S.A., was owned by Sheikh Mohammed and had started as the favourite for Quest For Fame’s Epsom Derby. Placerville raced in Prince Khaled Abdullah’s colours and won the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, Gr.2, beating Urban Sea. That filly went on to win Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Gr.1, later that year and has since carved out her own niche as a broodmare.
Razeen was afflicted with a wind problem; Placerville broke down with a saucer fracture while winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes. They both came to India with Razeen starting his new innings in 1992 and Placerville in 1994. Both were Champion freshman sires and thereafter the champion sire title rested with one or other, each winning it six times. Razeen has been the champion broodmare sire thrice in the last four years and the year he was not, the crown was wrested by Placerville. At the end of the last racing year, their career statistics were almost identical:
Razeen: 15 crops, 528 foals, 490 named foals, 419 winners, 198 black-type getters, 1827 wins and Rs. 629,043,642 in stakes.
Placerville: 13 crops, 595 foals, 537 named foals, 442 winners, 157 black-type getters, 1818 wins and Rs. 627,354,292 in stakes.
Each of them has sired an Indian Triple Crown winner (Razeen had Indictment matched by Placerville’s Smart Chieftan); each has four winners of the Poonawalla Breeders’ Million, which is the principal juvenile race in India. They are also tied with four winners each of the Indian Turf Invitation Cup. Razeen’s 15 Indian classic winners have won 19 classics between them; Placerville’s 12 have accounted for 16. The slight edge that Razeen enjoys over Placerville is in the number of Indian Derbys (4 against 1) and Derby Bangalores (6 against 3). Both of them will have five more crops to contest the classics and it is here that Placerville will have a slight upper hand as he will have more foals to represent him than his perennial adversary.
They were two outstanding stallion sons of two all-time great sires and the keen rivalry between themselves of premier honours in India was fascinating to watch. The statistics have been quoted to highlight their achievements and put their career records in a proper perspective; they are not meant to be used as a yardstick to decide who was better.
Razeen (Northern Dancer – Secret Asset) belonged to the incomparable La Troienne family and had Graustark, Buckpasser, Swaps, Nasrullah and War Admiral as his successive damsires. Placerville, a five generation outcross, could boast of Private Account-Tom Rolfe-Round Table-Bold Ruler-Roman sequence of damsires. They were fortunate to stand at two leading nurseries in India and thus get a full chance to give their best.
The Indian classics are open to geldings so most of the colts are cut as soon as they enter a trainer’s establishment. There are few entires competing in the classics and even if they excel, the anathema against Indian-bred stallions means that most of them find homes at obscure places. It is therefore highly unlikely that the influence of Razeen and Placerville will be handed down through their sons. Fortunately, both have left behind a host of daughters. It is through their produce that these two great stallions will resume their rivalry in the years to come.