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Quasar tames Tiger Tops in the Derby

Trainer Malesh Narredu`s bright colt, Quasar, produced a spirited run in the final furlong of the race to dash hopes of the even-money favourite, Tiger Tops, to win the 2,400m Eveready Calcutta Derby Stakes, the showpiece event in Sunday`s eight-event card.

Quasar, who was next in the betting, at 18-10, and was ridden by the trainer`s nephew, Suraj, recorded their first ever Calcutta Derby win, the richest race of the season. The victory of the colt, bred at the Hazara stud farm, won his owners — Jaydev M. Mody and Company — the winner`s prize of close to Rs 1.24 crore, a handsome purse, by the country`s turf standards.

The afternoon also witnessed trainer Patrick Quinn and jockey D.K. Ashish combinations notching up a priced treble on a day the RCTC ground attracted a record Derby watchers.

Suraj rode a well-judged race on the four-year-old colt, by Seeking The Dia out of Belle Jour. The jockey took the horse to the front right after the start but it was a tactical move, he said after the race. He just wanted to ensure a rail-side passage to keep the horse out trouble. The jockey`s task was made further easier after Romantic Flow, who had a slow start, took the mantle of setting a fast pace. Suraj settled the horse in the fifth berth behind the Bangalore challenger, Torch Bearer, with Tiger Tops and the local entry, Acrider marginally ahead.

The order of the running remained unchanged, until the 800m marker when Romantic Flow ran short of gas and called it a day. The situation became tailor-made for Torch Bearer, who enjoys a free run upfront. However, the new leader`s brush with the lead lasted for the next two furlongs as jockey S. Zervan made a quick move, on Tiger Tops, to head the field. However, in the final 300m Tiger Tops was joined by an equally quick Quasar. The two horses ran abreast of each other and for the next furlong for battle for supremacy.

Quasar was, however, seen inching his way up with each stride, and the inevitable happened in the final 100m as the masculine power got stronger nearing the winning post, leaving the filly, and her rider, with nothing extra to produce but to accept the defeat. Only three parts of a length separated the two champions at the wire, while Torch Bearer placed a faraway third, more than five lengths behind.

Narredus` were ecstatic after the victory of Quasar and it was quite understandable. They always believed in Quasar`s ability, and the celebrations on the track went on for nearly 20 minutes. The Pesi Shroff-camp, though disappointed by the beating of Tiger Tops, accepted the defeat in sporting spirit.

The 1,200m Alokananda Stakes, which serves as a pointer towards the making of a classic filly, was, a one-horse race for trainer Bharath Singh`s Suzanna, who`s debut victory, over Glamorously, was authoritative. The Win Legend-Just Amazing daughter carried the winner`s penalty to another start-to-finish performance, and to put Glamorously in her place. Suzanna, who was quoted as 14-10 favourite in the betting, established a two-length lead as the gates opened and maintained it throughout the journey as Glamorously was in a wild goose chase, once again. Trainer Arti Doctor`s Sunset Sail was a promising third in the race, covering plenty of ground in the stretch run.

Arti`s Claymore, however, made an impressive debut while winning the 1,200m In The Spotlight Cup. The Dark Angel-Gavotte colt, also ridden by Kamlesh, was taken to a start-to-finish mission and he never looked back.

Quinn`s hunt for the treble had started in the 1,600m Friends FM Cup, which was lifted by the trainer`s long-shot, Amandas Queen (D. K. Ashish-up). The four-year-old filly took the measure of the 16-10 favourite, Lancer`s Dream, from Manvendra Singh`s stable, after the two horse galloped in the mid-division, until the final turn. They were quick to gain ground in the final stretch but the Queen was always travelling the better of the two.

Quinn`s Agatta (Ashish-up), too, raced in an identical manner but over over a 1,400m sprint, which she won from her stable-mate Bizarro, a rank-outsider, who made most of the running.
Quinn`s hour of glory followed in the concluding event, the 1,100m Chianti Cup, when the trainer`s another long-shot, Silver Silver, followed the stable`s pattern of running and literally delivered all silver on his mentor`s laps.

The Derby Day started with trainer Vijay Singh notching up a quick double through his two piping hot favourites -- Flavius and Free Energy. Flavius, easily won the 2,000m the t2 Cup . A runaway winner on the New Year`s Day, the Noverre-Flavia son was, again in the winner`s enclosure, though the margin of his victory, on this occasion, was a shade under two lengths.

Free Energy, too, found the going easy with her light-impost in the 1,600m Hyderabad Club Cup. Held beck behind Pick Pocket till a furlong ffrom home, the Phoenix Tower daughter took over the running and won from a late finishing Smart Hunter.