In The Spotlight (Alnasr Alwasheek – Radiate by Placerville) waited behind the early pace, struck the front at Mahalakshmi as soon as they straightened for the final run in, and stormed away to win the McDowell Signature Premier Indian Derby, Gr.1, by seven lengths from Smashing, who had won the Indian Oaks, Gr.1, a fortnight ago (see post below). Two and a quarter lengths behind came Field Marshal, who was a short-head in front of the Indian 2000 Guineas winner Pronto Pronto. The winning filly’s time of 2.30.69 was fair but the last six runnings had seen a better time being returned.
In The Spotlight, though based at Bangalore, has been travelling all over India and came into the race on the back of a run of five “classic” wins — one at Mysore, one at Hyderabad and three at Kolkata, including the Ever Ready Calcutta Derby, Gr.1. If the pace is good, she is happy to sit behind it but is equally adept at making the running. She has won her last five starts by an average margin of little over seven lengths. The filly simply loves to gallop and on her first run Sunday at Mahalakshmi she was simply too good.
She is owned by Capt. Jamshed J.Appoo, trained by S. Padmanabhan, and was ridden by Martin Dywer. It was the first taste of Indian Derby success for the trio. A 15/4 marginal favourite on the books (Pronto Pronto garnered the most support on Tote), her victory was indeed a very popular one. However, it has to said that the field of thirteen runners was generally short on staying pedigrees.
For Alnasr Alwasheek, a son of the great Sadler’s Wells, this was his third Indian Derby winner. He should have had four by now because how his gelded son Mystical failed in the 2006 running is a conundrum. Mystical has been the best Indian-bred of this millennium, and he proved it by winning two races at Dubai. Alnasr Alwasheek is having a purple year — another daughter of his has won the Golconda Derby at Hyderabad — and looks all set to win his first title as a champion sire.
In the Spotlight’s fourth dam is an Irish-born mare called Scalaris who was imported to India in 1979 by the Poonawalla Farms. The Duke of Marmalade foal she was carrying — named Columbia — won the Indian Turf Invitation Cup. A daughter of Scalaris called Menorah — the third dam of In The Spotlight — won the Indian St. Leger. The line has thrived at Poonawalla Farms — they were winning their ninth Indian Derby today and are three behind Usha Stud now — and has consistently produced solid, staying horses including Radical Force — a three-parts brother to In The Spotlight — who was also owned by Capt. Appoo and won the Stayers’ Cup, Gr.1, in record time. This is not a family that is very well known outside Ireland where it has had D.C.M. (Irish 2000 Guineas, Gr.1) and St. Brendan (Irish Sweeps Derby). The good French stallion Deiri can be found further back. The line traces to the Bend Or mare Bendlet.
The Derby winner’s dam is by Placerville, a son of Mr. Prospector, so In The Spotlight carries the ubiquitous Northern
Dancer-Mr. Prospector cross.