Arazi's legacy is to have temporarily drained the belief that superhorses can exist, so much so that the latest prodigy from France, Zafonic, can be regarded only with weary curiosity until he proves himself in the much tougher sphere of three-year-old racing. Yesterday Arazi was given his latest chance to do precisely that after working satisfactorily over a mile of the Les Aigles gallop near his base at Lamorlaye, France.
Some residue of hope must surround last year's world champion two-year-old because otherwise he would now be munching the finest grass while his agents arranged a few blind dates for his gratification. Moreover, proof that Francois Boutin, his trainer, still regards the Breeders' Cup Mile as a viable target comes with the news that Akiko, the horse's old travelling companion, has been entered as a pacemaker for Sunday's race. Some might say that the only place Arazi needs a pacemaker is in his chest, but then racing never was a particularly charitable game.
Assuming that Arazi is the brick wall at the end of the search for equine perfection, it might seem unwise to read too much into the traditionally informative juvenile races at Newbury this afternoon.
There are justifications, though: in recent years the Haynes, Hanson and Clark Stakes has uncovered the Derby winners, Henbit, Shergar and Shahrastani, an Arc winner in Rainbow Quest, and other high-class middle-distance runners like Unfuwain and Kefaah (last year's winner, Zinaad, was typically well-bred and typically impressive in victory, but injured himself on the gallops last spring). Not all of them actually won this straight mile race, so offering second chances to the defeated could prove as profitable as hailing the winner.
Pembroke (3.40) is the safest selection because he has already produced winning form and comes from a stable (John Gosden's) spraying out winners like corn seed, though the fact that this one carries a weight penalty is against him. Like Zafonic, Pembroke is by the American stallion Gone West, a suitable epitaph for most ante-post bets, and - unless Sunday throws up a miracle - little Arazi.
Rifling through the gilt-edged birth certificates of Pembroke's main rivals produces this fuel for anticipation: Circus Colours is by Rainbow Quest out of the 1984 Oaks winner, Circus Plume, so may wish he was a three-year-old already if he is insufficiently precocious to keep pace early on; Green Kilt is choicely bred, has been entered for the Racing Post Trophy and is one of the Queen's best prospects for next season (her Sharp Prod contests the Mill Reef Stakes tomorrow). Finally, White Muzzle is another to watch. He is by Dancing Brave and is trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam, so enough said.
The Jock Collier Stakes is almost equally revealing, and among the best-connected of the unraced contenders here are Bawaeth, Icterina, Ringlet and Susquehanna Days. That said, Bronze Maquette (2.40) showed potential on her debut at Salisbury and has a good each-way chance, while at Ayr, Guilty Secret (2.00), WHITE SHADOW (nap 3.35) and Forever Diamonds (4.05) could become life-rafts in the sea of names.
Rodrigo De Triano, withdrawn two day ago from betting lists for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, was reinstated at 7-2 with a run by Ladbrokes yesterday. Peter Chapple-Hyam, his trainer, is still undecided about the colt's next target, but does not want a hard race to jeopardise his chance of running in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Racing results, page 32
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