Tag Archives: Set Alight

Becket looks to have an easy job in the Indian St. Leger

(The following report was filed by Major Srinivas Nargolkar, former Keeper of the Indian Stud Book, from India.)
In the absence of Jacqueline who has already been retired, the Indian Turf Invitation Cup winner Becket should not have too many problems lifting the last Indian classic of the year Sunday, March 28. He has only four opponents; the three Placervilles—geldings Mighty Crusader and Native Knight and the filly Change of Luck—he has disposed off easily either in the Indian Derby or the Invitation Cup while the fourth, the Razeen colt Washington Irvine, is rated a measly 68 against his imposing 119.
Jacqueline is already at her part-owner Mr. Khushru Dhunjibhoy’s Nanoli Stud awaiting her turn at the court of the Shareef Dancer horse Glory of Dancer. That stallion has had the most significant impact on the Indian Derby in the last three years with two winners—Hot Stepper and Antonios—and Onassis, who was fourth this year. Logistic problems are the cited reason for her owners abandoning the earlier plans of sending Jacqueline to Kentucky. However, two outstanding fillies from the previous year,  Set Alight and Icebreaker, are set to make the trip on March 31 bar any last-minute glitches.
Joint problems have cost Jacqueline her chance of becoming the first filly to win all the five Indian classics. If Becket wins as anticipated, Sohna Stud, the breeder of Becket and Jacqueline, will have the honour of that distinction. It won’t be a unique feat, though, for Renala (1949-50), Kolhapur (1965-66) and Yeravada (1976-77) are three stud farms that have recorded a clean sweep before.

Jacqueline may have run last race; may be bred in the US


The remarkable Indian filly Jacqueline, who in unprecedented fashion won the first four Indian classics at Mahalaxmi racecourse in Mumbai—the 1000 and 2000 Guineas, Oaks, and Derby—and was defeated a head in an important Indian Group 1 fixture at the same track Sunday, has exited that race with a joint injury and may be retired. Trained by Pesi Shroff, an ex-champion Indian jockey, Jacqueline is considered to be one of the best racehorses produced in India, along with last season’s champion filly Set Alight, also a Shroff trainee. According to sources in India, there’s talk that both Jacqueline and Set Alight may be sent to the US to be bred in 2011 2010, with Giant’s Causeway rumored to be a candidate for Set Alight. 

See videos of Jacqueline and Set Alight below. 



Oasis Star 2nd at Meydan today confirms India’s race form

Oasis Star, shown directly below winning the Indian Group 1 Dr. S.C. Jain Sprinters Championship at Mumbai on March 15, 2009, made her Dubai début at Meydan today a memorable one with a fine second-place finish to 2009 UAE 1000 Guineas winner So Shiny. The latter, an Argentine-bred daughter of Indygo Shiner now representing Saudi Arabia, was Group 1-placed in her native country before taking the Guineas at Nad Al Sheba last season. There were several international stakes winners in the race today, including Group 1 winners, so Oasis Star’s finish confirmed the Indian formbook — and my penchant for featuring the Indian classics in this space. Aside from Oasis Star, there have been several horses — interestingly, fillies — out of India lately that have demonstrated, in my opinion, high-class international form, notably the outstanding Set Alight, last season’s champion filly; and her heir apparent, the equally impressive Jacqueline, who attempts to make history Sunday. Jacqueline has won both Guineas and the Oaks and will go in the McDowell Signature Indian Derby at Mahalaxmi Sunday in an attempt to sweep all four classics for the first time in history.


A come-from-behind sprinter with tremendous acceleration, Oasis Star is a 6-year-old mare by US-raced Grade 1 winner Senure, a son of Nureyev, out of the unraced Lear Fan mare Gumbaru Etsu, and is widely considered the best sprinter seen in India. A winner of 14 races from 18 starts, she’d been scheduled to race in the US last year but quarantine issues scuttled the plans. Click here to read an earlier post about her. Note that she was racing today on a surface other than turf for the first time in her career. She is one of four Indian horses at Meydan for the carnival. The others are Antonios, last season’s conqueror of Set Alight in the Indian Derby; Yana; and Autonomy. (Yana, a mare, ran unplaced in the 6th race today at 1600 meters, a distance well short of the 2400 to 3000 meters that she needs.)

Below is the 1st race from Meydan today. Oasis Star is on the rail in 5th early, fans out on the turn for home, and finishes strong.


The 10 most intriguing horses of 2009 from around the globe

The year of 2009 will go down as one of the best for fillies, but not just because of Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and Goldikova. It was also the year of the intriguing Sea the Stars, who did just enough to win his races but nevertheless filled a resume with accomplishments that will be hard to duplicate. It was also a year that saw the rise of exceptional horses from places that aren’t routinely covered in the mainstream trades. The Top 10 here may not be the best 10 in the world, but they are some of the most intriguing. Also, each is an icon in its country.

1. Sea the Stars: First horse to win the 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, and Arc in the same year. The latter race, particularly, was impressive because of the gear changes he exhibited to extricate himself from trouble. Never one to win by much, he gave the impression that we never really saw his best. That’s a scary thought. He was undefeated in 6 starts in 2009 — all Group 1 races — and was 8 for 9 overall. The Arc is below.


2. Zenyatta: The first filly or mare to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Like the undefeated Personal Ensign, who ended her 13 for 13 career in dramatic fashion at the Breeders’ Cup, Zenyatta had a fittingly similar cinematic send off. On the turn for home, neither filly appeared to have a chance to win, yet both staged improbable, legend-making  finishes. Personal Ensign defeated the Derby heroine Winning Colors in the last stride, in the Distaff; Zenyatta, one better, defeated the winners of both the Derby and Belmont, in the Classic, with a stride or two to spare. The Classic, which ended her career at 14 for 14,  is below.


3. Rachel Alexandra: She is the  first filly winner of the Preakness since Nellie Morse in 1924. Rachel Alexandra, however, has already accomplished more than modern-day filly classic winners Rags to Riches (2007 Belmont Stakes), Winning Colors (1988 Kentucky Derby), and Genuine Risk (1980 Kentucky Derby), who together combined to win only one Grade 1 race after their classic successes. After the Preakness, Rachel Alexandra defeated 3-year-old males in the Grade 1 Haskell and older males in the Grade 1 Woodward and finished 2009 undefeated in 8 starts. The Preakness is below.


4. Overdose: He is the best horse out of Hungary since Kincsem went undefeated in 54 starts in the 19th century. This iconic Hungarian-based sprinter’s heralded 2009 itinerary included the top sprint stakes in the world, but he only made one start at local Kincsem Park in Budapest before chronic feet problems sidelined him for the rest of the year with a 12 for 12 record. The promise of his intriguing “win” in the 2008 Abbaye was never fulfilled in 2009, but his principal owner, Zoltan Mikoczy, made plenty of news by getting arrested and thrown in jail in Romania. Overdose, meanwhile, toured rehab facilities in France and Britain before returning to Hungary in a shroud of secrecy late in the year — while Mikoczy was still in jail. All’s well that ends well, though, because the owner is free now and the Hungarian hero, now healed, will be prepared for a 2010 campaign. The race from Kincsem this year, with Christophe Soumillon up, is below.


5. Goldikova: The two-time French-based Breeders’ Cup Mile winner has been called a better filly than two-time BC Mile winner and racing great Miesque, by Freddie Head, once the rider of Miesque and now the trainer of Goldikova. A winner of 10 of 15 starts, including 7 Group 1 races, Goldikova won the 2009 BC Mile in devastating fashion in 1:32.26 and stays in training in 2010 for a tilt at a threepeat and a unique place in history.  Once under the shadow of contemporary Zarkava, the undefeated Arc winner who defeated her in the French Guineas, Goldikova has since swept everything in Europe at a mile. The 2009 BC Mile is below.


6. Vodka: She won the Japanese Derby at 3 in 2007 and became the first of her sex to do so in 64 years. In 2009, the 5-year-old mare won the Group 1 Japan Cup by a nose, and she may be kept in training for one last shot at a prize in Dubai in March. A Group 1 winner in Japan at 2,3,4, and 5, Vodka has more than $13 million in earnings and a record of 10 wins from 25 starts. The mare defeated a Japan Cup field that included King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner and dual Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Conduit and covered the 2400 meters in a rapid 2:22.40. The race is below (Vodka is the bay who withstands the late move of the white-faced chestnut, Oken Bruce Lee).


7. Set Alight: She is one of the best horses bred in India, period, with a record of 11 wins from 13 starts. Set Alight showed she was special from the moment she stepped on the racetrack and won her first 10 starts with ease. She entered the McDowell Signature Indian Derby at Mahalaxmi in Mumbai as the overwhelming favorite in April, only to lose the race in a shocker near the wire. Widely considered the victim of an overly confident ride in the 2400-meter race by Malesh Narredu, Set Alight prematurely hit the front with 600 meters to run after racing close to a  taxing early pace and was gunned down late in the long Mahalaxmi straight by Antonios, a good colt. She lost her next start, too, which dented her reputation and put in doubt her ability to stay the Derby trip, but in what would be her last start — and too bad, because Dubai was in the plans before she hurt a tendon —  she was once again sensational against males in the 2400-meter President of India Gold Cup in September, below.


8. Belle Watling: She won the “quadruple crown” Dec. 27 at Chile’s Club Hipico de Santiago, earned a US$500,000 bonus for the sweep, and is widely considered the best 3-year-old of either sex at the middle distances on turf in South America. A winner of 7 of 10 starts, Belle Watling has won the Chilean 1000 Guineas, the National Ricardo Lyon, and the El Ensayo — all Group 1 races; the latter is the most prestigious race for 3-year-olds in Chile. The filly covered the 2400 meters of the El Ensayo in 2:24.50, which is below.


9. Bambera: She has been hailed as one of the best in the history of the sport in Venezuela. A winner of 16 races from 18 starts, Bambera most recently won the $300,000 Internacional Clasico del Caribe in Puerto Rico from the top-class Mexican filly Vivian Record — both of them far superior to the other top Caribbean colts in a race that’s considered the Caribbean Derby. Before the 1800-meter Caribe, Bambera won the 2400-meter Simon Bolivar at La Rinconada — the most important race in Venezuela — by three lengths in 2:29 on dirt to become the leading money earner of all time in Venezuela. She’s now in Miami preparing for a US campaign in 2010. Below is the Simon Bolivar.


10. Age of Jape: This Polish-bred colt won the triple crown in the Czech Republic in 2009 in Prague at Velka Chuchle — the Guineas, Derby and St Leger — as well as the  Derby and St. Leger in Slovakia, at Bratislava, for a tally of 5 classic races and a 10 for 11 record. He has not lost since finishing second on his debut at 2 in Poland. Age of Jape will stay in training in 2010 and will be targeted for international competition in the major centers. Below is the 2800-meter Czech St. Leger (Age of Jape is in the striped colors and breaks on the outside).


Major Nargolkar previews (explains) Mumbai classic season

(The following post was written in India by Major Srinivas Nargolkar, former Keeper of the Indian Stud Book.)

The Indian classics, run at Mumbai, follow the English pattern but are run much later so that they straddle the New Year. The two Guineas come in December and are contested by 3-year-olds. That crop turns 4 on 1st January and their focus then turns to the Indian Oaks (mid-January), the Indian Derby (first Sunday in February) and the Indian St. Leger (last week of March).

Last year, the outbreak of EI — and the subsequent restrictions on the movement of horses — had caused havoc with the established racing pattern. Racing commenced in Kolkata and Mumbai more than two months after the normal beginning in November. The Indian St. Leger could hence not be fitted in the truncated season and was pushed forward to Pune. There was talk that the Invitation Cup weekend (it was Mumbai’s turn to host it) would be scrapped all together. Fortunately, wiser counsels prevailed and it was shifted to Hyderabad and run late in October.


Antonios (Glory of Dancer – Twin Star by Portroe, a full-brother to Fappiano) had upset the unbeaten Set Alight in the Indian Derby. He duly won on reappearance in Pune, went down to the older Razeen filly Yana to whom he was giving weight and then ran away with the Indian St. Leger. Set Alight came out in Hyderabad and was surprised by Icebreaker whom she had beaten in the Indian 1000 Guineas and the Indian Derby. Perhaps, she was rusty for in her next start she won the Group 1 President of India Gold Cup in her customary, effortless style. Unfortunately, she broke down and did not line up at the Invitation Cup weekend. 

Antonios was thus the clear favourite to win the Invitation Cup and looked like landing the odds when he took over the running. The Indian 2000 Guineas winner Autonomy (by Razeen), given an easy preparation in Pune, came like a train and despite the jockey losing an iron, pipped Antonios on the post. Razeen had a double when his daughter Yana, like Autonomy trained by Bezan Chenoy and running in the colours of Mr. Jaydev Mody, waltzed away with the Stayers Cup. In the Sprinters’ Cup, Oasis Star (by Senure, a Grade 1 United Nations Handicap-winning son of Nureyev) repeated her last year’s victory while Dancing Dynamite  provided his sire, Shareef Dancer’s son Glory of Dancer, some compensation for losing out in the Invitation by annexing the Super Mile. Thus, all the four Group 1 events of the day went to sires from the Northern Dancer male line.


Last year, Set Alight went into the Indian Derby without having tasted a defeat. There is a good chance that we could have an unbeaten horse in this year’s renewal, too. There are three colts, all conceived abroad, who are being talked about to win the Indian 2000 Guineas later this month. Two of them — Versaki and Sea Ruler — are trained by Cooji Katrak, the handler of Oasis Star and last year’s Indian Oaks winner Riyasat. Versaki (Verglas – Ghassak) counts victories in the Group 1 Poonawalla Breeders’ Million — richest race in India for juveniles — and Group 1 Pune Derby among his many laurels. Sea Ruler (E Dubai – Cool Ashlee, a daughter of Mister Baileys who was second in the Mazarine Breeders’ Cup Stakes) has started less often than Versaki but has been quite impressive. The third, Becket (Hawk Wing – Boiling River, a Dayjur mare who placed in USA at 3), has faced the starter only twice. He is yet to get black-type but the eye-catching manner of his victories — a verdict of 18 lengths for two wins — has brought him into the contention.

There is also  Aboline (by Burden of Proof out of Lear Fan’s Round Table Handicap-winning daughter Super Fan). He just about held on when winning the Group 1 Derby Bangalore  in the summer and could find the extra two furlongs of the Indian Derby a wee bit too far. In any case, he starts off in Kolkata and would come down to Mumbai much later. Another very good colt is Cabriolet. Though he has been beaten by both Versaki and Sea Ruler, he has a pedigree to stay a mile and a half. He is by Glory of Dancer, sire of the last two Indian Derby winners, out of Highland Ghillie, an unraced Storm Trooper (Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Handicap winner) full-sister to Artois (Pune Derby) and half-sister to Group 1 Indian Turf Invitation Cup winner Zurbaran.

Finishing second and third to Versaki in the Group 1 Poonawalla Breeders’ Million were the fillies Gypsy Magic (by Placerville) and Jacqueline, an imported ‘in-utero’ daughter of the Nureyev horse King Charlemagne. While Gypsy Magic hasn’t quite built on that run, Jacqueline, who is from the family of Tiger Hill, went on to win the Group 1 Fillies’ Trial Stakes in Bangalore and just failed to catch Aboline in the Derby Bangalore. Two other fillies, both owned by Dr. Vijay Mallya and both imported ‘in-utero’, are very much in the running. Astral Flash (Belong To Me – Burooq) is trained, like Jacqueline, by Pesi Shroff. She was third to Aboline and Jacqueline in the Derby Bangalore — albeit a good six lengths behind the battling pair — but had gone into that race with an interrupted preparation. Her form, before and since, entitles her respect. The other is the S. Padmanabhan-trained Orpen filly Celestial Way who has recently won the Group 2 Golconda 1000 Guineas and has arrived at Mumbai as a live contender.
If any horse other than the ones mentioned here wins either of the Guineas at Mumbai, it will be a matter of surprise. It is too early to talk of their chances in the Oaks and the Derby and much will depend on how they fare in the lead-ups to those two races.

Coming tomorrow: Major Nargolkar previews Indian season

Dr. Vijay Mallya

The star of the 2009 Indian racing season was Dr. Vijay Mallya’s outstanding filly Set Alight, who took an unbeaten record into the Indian Derby at Mumbai and was shockingly defeated. A filly with international stakes form, Set Alight was retired recently after a tendon injury scuttled plans for an international campaign that would have begun in Dubai this winter. Major Srinivas Nargolkar, the former keeper of the Indian Stud Book and a contributor to this blog on the Indian racing scene, will preview in this space tomorrow the Indian classics at Mumbai — the country’s primary classics — which begin this month.

Major Nargolkar reports that there are three unbeaten and foreign-conceived colts by Verglas, E Dubai, and Hawk Wing that appear to tower over the competition for the Guineas. Read about it tomorrow.

Note: Major Nargolkar has this to say about matings plans for Set Alight: “Set Alight is being retired to stud and for a while Kunigal Stud [owned by Dr. Mallya] entertained thoughts of sending her abroad to be covered by a top stallion. I put Mr. Mallya’s racing Manager, Zeyn Mirza, onto eMatings, and he did consult Jack Werk, Dr. [Steven] Roman and [Rommy] Faversham. However, in the end, it was considered too ambitious a project so Set Alight stays in India and will be covered by [Kunigal resident] Burden of Proof who is going from strength to strength.”

Indian star filly Set Alight may be retired; tendon injured

Set Alight: One of the best horses seen on the Indian turf in recent times.
Set Alight: One of the best horses seen on the Indian turf in recent times.

One of the best racehorses seen in India in recent times, Dr. Vijay Mallya’s Set Alight, has been scratched from a major event Sunday with a nagging tendon injury and may be retired to stud, Indiarace.com reported. The daughter of Razeen from Set Aside, by Steinbeck, won 11 of 13 starts, including her first 10 in a row. She lost her first race in the Indian Derby after looking a winner a long ways out, and after a freshening lost again. She ended her career on a winning note by taking the President of India Gold Cup by 7 lengths on Sept. 13.

Set Alight, India’s version of Rachel, bounces back to form

SetAlight_GitanjaliBefore Rachel Alexandra captivated racegoers in the US, the filly Set Alight had done the same in India. Unbeaten in 10 starts entering the Indian Derby (click here to read my post on the race; click here for a recap from Major S. Nargolkar), she lost the classic at Mahalaxmi, probably because her rider made a premature and overconfident move with plenty of race to run.

After some time off, Set Alight reappeared and lost again, which dented her reputation, but on Sunday, Sept. 13, she was back in the winner’s circle after a 7-length success in the Indian Group 1 President of India Gold Cup at Hyderabad. Click here to read a recap of the race from racingpulse.in, and click here to read the account of the race from indiarace.com.

Owned by Dr. Vijay Mallya (pictured in white suit leading in Set Alight from a previous win) and trained by Pesi Shroff, Set Alight was ridden most recently by Christopher Alford, who was not the jock aboard when she lost the Derby. It’s expected that Set Alight will race in Dubai this winter. See her race in the President of India Gold Cup (Sept. 13) at Hyderabad below:


Major Nargolkar on Belong to Me stakes winner’s dam

Ameeta Mehra
Ameeta Mehra

Re the post below on the Indian Belong to Me stakes winner Astral Flash (Ind), Major S. Nargolkar (retd.), former keeper of the Indian Stud Book, wrote in: “Nice to see Astral Flash get a mention on the blog. At the 2005 Keeneland Sale, Ms. Ameeta Mehra picked up four in-foal mares. She selected two — with help from my friend Mostapha Fostock —  from a shortlist I had made for her, and one of them was Burooq, the dam of Astral Flash. The other mare was Chanteline (Ire), whose foal by Maria’s Mon is yet to race. The success of the foal imported in-foal is a bit of an unexpected bonus. The mares I had shortlisted were with Razeen in mind. Only if Razeen produces something like Astral Flash from Burooq and Chanteline will I feel vindicated. Incidentally, Astral Flash races for Vijay Mallya, the owner of Set Alight.”

*Ameeta Mehra runs the Usha Stud, home to Razeen (by Northern Dancer), India’s best stallion and the sire of current sensation Set Alight. Usha bred Set Alight.

*Burooq, the A.P. Indy dam of Astral Flash, sold for $37,000 at Keeneland November, in foal to Belong to Me. The listed buyer was Greentree Stud (a subsidiary of Usha).

*Chanteline, a Danehill filly that sold for $359,580 as a Deauville August yearling, made $50,000 at Keeneland, in foal to Maria’s Mon. Like Burooq, the listed buyer was Greentree.

*Mostapha Fostock is associated with the Saudi Arabian Stud Book.

*Liquor baron Vijay Mallya is owner of Kunigal Stud and one of the leading owners in India. He races Set Alight.

Here’s the April 5 chart of Astral Flash’s win from Indiarace.com:

 Race No 178 Class/Category  20 TO 46(3 YEARS OLD ONLY)
 Distance 1600 METERS


 Time 5.30 P.M

Winner : Rs. 12,00,000

Second : Rs. 4,00,000

Third : Rs. 2,00,000

Fourth : Rs. 1,00,000

Fifth : Rs. 60,000

Sixth : Rs. 40,000

Horse Name Desc Pedigree Trainer Jockey Wt Al Eqp Dr Won By Rtg Cl
P SHROFF NEERAJ RAWAL 54 0 A 2 SHD - 3 3/4 1:42.38
J S DHARIWAL HARISH 57 0 A 1 1/2 - 7/4 1:42.39
KARTHIK GANAPATHY B PRAKASH 54 0 A 3 1 1/4 - 9/2 1:42.48
 4  4  HARMONICA 3-chf  GASWAR(GB)
SANJAY KOLSE C RAJENDRA 54 0 A 4 Hd - 5/1 1:42.68
S K SUNDERJI DANIEL M GRANT 54 0 A 6 1 1/2 - 19/4 1:42.71
C D KATRAK Y S SRINATH 54 0 A 7 1/2 - 12/1 1:42.94
NARENDRA LAGAD NIRMAL JODHA 54 0 A 5 1/2 - 15/1 1:43.02
VINAYAK M NARREDU 54 0 A 8 - - 10/1 1:43.11
Tote Favourite: CAPTIVATING Time: 1:42.38 WonBy:  SHD, 1/2, 1 1/4, Hd, 1 1/2, 1/2, 1/2
Owned By :
Win: Rs. 99 Forecast: Rs. 268
Place: Rs. 25, Rs. 13, Rs. 15 Quinnella: Rs. 217
SHP: Rs. 40 Trinnella: Rs. 535 & 282

Race Commentary

Odds at race time: Captivating 14/10, The Pearl 15/4, Harmonica 9/2 rest 8/1.

River Blossom led with Rock By Venus, Sea Queen, The Pearl, Captivating, Harmonica and the rest all bunched up closely. Captivating shot ahead at the distance post with The Pearl challenging strongly on the rails, Harmonica also coming up well and Astral Flash switched out side coming menacingly, Astral Flash got up in the last stride to edge out Captivating. The Pearl also finished a close third ahead of Harmonica.

Major Nargolkar on McDowell Indian Derby winner Antonios

(Major Srinivas Nargolkar, former keeper of the Indian Stud book and a contributor to Indian racing publications for more than 34 years, updates the blog on the Indian classics scene. Today’s entry is about Indian Derby winner Antonios. The following blog entry was written by Major Nargolkar, from India.)majsn2

By Major Srinivas Nargolkar, Mumbai, India

MUMBAI, India — Antonios (Glory of Dancer — Twin Star) wore down the unbeaten filly Set Alight in the final 50 meters to win the Indian Group 1 McDowell Signature Indian Derby at Mumbai today in a new national-record time of 2.28.58 for the 2400 meters. The colt is owned by brothers J.K. and F.K. Rattonsey in partnership with Hoosain S. Nensey and was bred by them out of their Indian Oaks-winning mare at the Nanoli Stud near Pune. S.S. Shah, the longest-serving trainer in Western India, saddled the winner, who was ridden by the England-based Brazilian jockey S.A. De Souza who had a dreamlike 554 to 1 treble on the day. Thus it was back-to-back victories for the sire, owner J.K. Rattonsey and the trainer for they were all connected with last year’s winner, Hotstepper.

The noon temperature of 38 degrees celsius may have cooled down a bit by the time the field of 15 was dispatched later in the evening but the pace throughout was fast and furious. Set Alight, looking for her eleventh straight win, was handy throughout and shot to the front with 600 meters still left. She covered the next 400 meters in a blinding 22 seconds plus change and was too drained to withstand the challenge of Antonios. She finished a length and a half behind the winner with Icebreaker third and Dancing Dynamite (also by Glory of Dancer) fourth.

The Rattonseys closed their breeding operation — Kehelan Stud — near Bangalore and moved their stock, including the Shareef Dancer horse Glory of Dancer, to Nanoli Stud a couple of years back. They have won two Derbys since then though Hotstepper was born at Kehelan.

Antonios had made a winning debut towards the end of last Mumbai season. He ran thrice in graded company at Pune, winning once on the track but losing the race on an objection and finishing with a third to Phenomenale and Dancing Dynamite in the Pune Derby. Back at Mumbai for the second term, he won his first outing and then was unplaced in Autonomy’s Indian 2000 Guineas. The fact that Antonios returned Rs. 448 on a Rs. 10 investment on the Tote shows what the public at large thought of his form and winning chance.

Antonios is balanced in-bred 5×4 to Raise a Native and 5×5 to Native Dancer. His sire, Glory of Dancer, was a winner of the Group 1 Gran Criterium at San Siro, second in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris, third in Group 1 Champion Stakes at Newmarket and fourth in Shaamit’s Derby at Epsom as well in the Arlington Million. Well travelled, he came to India after a brief stint at stud in England. Apart from back-to-back winners of the Indian Derby, he has sired two other Group 1 winners and is a consistent and well-regarded stallion.  His dam is by the Fappiano full brother Portroe — winner of the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes — who was retired to stud in India, went back to U.S.A. for a while and returned to India. Antonios traces to Pretty Polly through Rich Relation and Sister Sarah.

Shocker! Set Alight defeated in McDowell Indian Derby

Dr. Vijay Mallya’s Set Alight (Razeen — Set Aside, by Steinbeck) was defeated for the first time in 11 career starts today in India’s most famous horse race, the Indian Group 1 McDowell Signature Indian Derby over 2400 meters at Mahalaxmi racecourse in Mumbai. Considered exceptional, Set Alight, the 1/2 favorite, took command entering the final bend and opened up by two lengths on the field with 600 meters to run, but 25-1 outsider Antonios made a sustained run from the outside and caught the champion filly late to win by a little over a length.

The straight at Mahalaxmi is exceptionally long, and the early pace in the race was exceptionally fast. Set Alight was second in the early part behind the fast fractions, then later tucked in third. She also probably made a premature move to the lead under jockey Malesh Narredu, who rode her with supreme confidence. He may have paid the price for that, as the filly, trained by former champion jockey and Indian Derby winner Pesi Shroff, was caught late.

See the video and chart of the race at http://www.racingpulse.in/code/rupdate.aspx?pgId=6362 (8th race).

Autonomy wins Guineas and gives Razeen a double

(Major Srinivas Nargolkar, former keeper of the Indian Stud book and a contributor to Indian racing publications for more than 34 years, updates the blog on the Indian classics scene. Today’s entry is about Indian 2000 Guineas winner Autonomy, a son of the Northern Dancer stallion Razeen. The following blog entry was written by Major Nargolkar, from India.)majsn2

By Major Srinivas Nargolkar, Mumbai, India

The Razeen colt Autonomy, out of the Steinbeck mare All Heart, won the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Indian 2000 Guineas (Gr.1) at Mumbai today to provide Usha Stud and its leading sires Razeen and Steinbeck with a unique double. Set Alight, who won the Gitanjali Indian 1000 Guineas (Gr.1) last week, is also by Razeen and bred on the same cross. Only once before, in 1966-67, has the same cross double been recorded. That was when River Haven and Multirosa, both fillies by the Rockefella horse Rock of Gibraltar out of Flower Dust mares, won the two classics.

Razeen is a son of Northern Dancer while Steinbeck is a son of Mr. Prospector. The Razeen/Steinbeck cross brings together the opposite strains of Native Dancer, Nasrullah, Hyperion, Mahmoud and Pharos. What is also noticeable about Autonomy’s pedigree is that he has Glamour and Royal Record 5×5. Glamour is a daughter of Nasrullah out of a grand-daughter of La Troienne while Royal Record is a son of Nasrullah out of a daughter of La Troienne. Karel Miedema would call it “kinbreeding”; I have been calling it the “cluster method” — a cluster of siblings.

Autonomy, who is owned by Mr. Jaydev Mody and trained by Bezan Chenoy, owed much to a splendid ride from Richard Hughes. He won by a neck and a head from two Glory of Dancer colts, Dancing Dynamite — whom he had beaten by half a length on his previous start — and Juventus, a full-brother to last year’s Indian Derby winner Hot Stepper. Autonomy clocked 1.34.10 for the mile trip, shaving more than half a second from the track record.

Montjeu‘s daughter Phenomenale, winner of the Pune Derby, was also among the 14 runners but failed to get her number up. She ran a forward race; perhaps, as prelude to the Indian Oaks.

Some years ago, Bezan Chenoy had trained Archimedes (by Razeen out of Autonomy’s grandam) to run second in the Indian Derby. Will he go one better this time? The unbeaten Set Alight, who is skipping the Indian Oaks to be in mint condition for the Indian Derby, could well come against Autonomy in the R.R. Ruia Gold Cup, the final lead-up to the Blue Riband.  That race should be a real cracker.

Set Alight: Undefeated daughter of Razeen
Set Alight: Undefeated daughter of Razeen
Autonomy: Indian 2000 Guineas winner is by Razeen
Autonomy: Indian 2000 Guineas winner is by Razeen

Unbeaten Set Alight wins Indian 1000 Guineas

(Major Srinivas Nargolkar, former keeper of the Indian Stud book and a contributor to Indian racing publications for more than 34 years, sent me an update on the Indian classics scene. Note that the filly I mentioned in my prior blog, Set Alight, won the Indian 1000 Guineas today. She is undefeated in 9 starts. The following blog entry was written by Major Nargolkar, from India.)majsn2

By Major Srinivas Nargolkar, Mumbai, India

Abs Fabs, a filly by the Fairy King horse Burden of Proof, bred at Dr. Vijay Mallya’s Kunigal Stud Farm not far from Bangalore, won the Calcutta Derby by 7 1/2 lengths yesterday. She picked up a winner’s purse of Rs. 6.8 million (US$133,320), the richest purse ever offered at Kolkatta. Earlier, Abs Fabs had won the Mysore Derby and then finished behind another filly, Icebreaker, in the Bangalore 1000 Guineas, Bangalore Oaks, and Bangalore Derby.

With racing at Calcutta and Mumbai starting later than usual this year because of an outbreak of equine influenza, contenders from Bangalore and Hyderabad had the opportunity of completing their local engagements before venturing to other centers as Abs Fabs did. Icebreaker herself and Attractress, winner of the Golconda 1000 Guineas and Golconda Oaks at Hyderabad, came over to Mumbai to take on the unbeaten Razeen filly Set Alight in the Indian 1000 Guineas. Set Alight won the race comfortably, finishing 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Icebreaker.
Set Alight, bred at the Usha Stud on the outskirts of New Delhi, is owned by Dr. Vijay Mallya. Dr. Mallya owns the Force India team on the F1 circuit. There are  interesting similarities in the pedigrees of Set Alight and Abs Fabs. The dam of the former is inbred to Raise a Native while the dam of the latter is inbred to Hoist The Flag. Razeen and Burden of Proof complement that breeding by providing the required opposite sex strains. This was a pattern identified by John Hislop many years ago. Hislop always cited Herbager as a perfect example of how this pattern works.

Quick results: Abs Fabs wins Calcutta Derby

Abs Fabs
Abs Fabs

The Burden of Proof  filly Abs Fabs won the Indian Group 1 Eveready Calcutta Derby Saturday over 2400 meters at the Royal Calcutta Turf Club in Calcutta, India, and confirmed the form of the Poonawalla Bangalore Derby Feb. 8, where she was second to Icebreaker. Earlier in the season, on Oct. 26, Abs Fabs won the Mysore Derby.

It’s been a year for the fillies during the 2008-2009 season in India. Phenomenale, a daughter of Montjeu, won the Pune Derby (click here for a previous post); the mentioned Icebreaker won the Bangalore Derby (click here for a previous post); and the filly Set Alight, winner the Kingfisher Bangalore Derby last year at age 3 (4-year-olds are eligible for the classics in India), is considered the best of them all — by all accounts a super filly.

No details, aside from the winner, were available from India at the time of this post. Note that all four of these fillies are by Northern Dancer-line stallions, and three of them have a connection to Sadler’s Wells: Abs Fabs is by a Fairy King stallion (Fairy King was a full brother to Sadler’s Wells); Phenomenale is by the Sadler’s Wells horse Montjeu; and Icebreaker is by the Sadler’s Wells stallion Alnasr Alwasheek. Set Alight’s sire Razeen, a son of Northern Dancer, is the “Sadler’s Wells of India.”