Malesh Narredu trained Quasar established his credentials as Horse of the Year with an outstanding win in the Gr 2 Bangalore St Leger, the last classic of the Bangalore Summer Season, on Sunday. Be Safe was unwisely entered in the fray despite the fact that he was reported to have had infection when he ran in the Maharaja`s Cup as never in the history of racing has a horse with that type of a condition bounced back to win two weeks` time especially over the gruelling trip of 2800 metres against arguably the best horse of his generation. More than the horse, the connections stood disgraced for treating a champion with such callousness.
Quite often sentiments rule the mind set of race goers so much so that they were prepared to overlook the abject failure of Be Safe and backed again him with conviction. Whether Be Safe was at his peak or not, he being a brilliant performer would not have been able to beat a solid horse like Quasar over the Leger trip. And with an impaired condition and poor training, Be Safe was surely not going to make any impact. The only fear was whether he would come back sound after the race. Be Safe was overhauled by Quasar at the top of the straight itself and jockey Yash Narredu looked back repeatedly and even gestured to the ones at the back to move up. Quasar disposed of the opposition with regal disdain, winning by over a distance to provide owners Jaydev Mody, Tanmay Agashe and Madhav G Patnakar with the icing on the cake. The Hazara Stud Farm bred Quasar has won a bagful of classics including an unprecedented Pune Derby, Calcutta Derby and Golconda Derby besides the Indian Turf Invitation Cup.
Be Safe enjoyed the status of a super star in Indian racing. After his win in the mile long Karnataka Championship, his admirers grew in number. There was big attendance on the Maharaja`s Cup day when Be Safe ran. The race goers cheered Be Safe when he arrived in the paddock and were thrilled to see him live in action. They were stunned into silence when Be Safe lost miserably. With the Bangalore Turf Club coming to the rescue of the connections by announcing that the horse had suffered Grade 1 bleeding when in the past they have never even taken notice of this came as a surprise. Even one were to scope all the horses which race over a trip, 85 per cent of them will show Grade I bleeding. This confused the race goers who were prepared to overlook the fact that Be Safe was also reported to have infection though such horses rarely bounce back in a short span of time as lungs are vital for any horse to sustain in a race. The fact that he was running within two weeks was taken as a sign of complete recovery by the race goers.
Another big crowd turned out to see Be Safe bounce back which was the reason why the progeny of Holy Roman Emperor was backed with such enthusiasm that Quasar who should have gone to the post as an on money favourite was offered at lucrative odds. Race goers were prepared to overlook the fact that the progeny of Holy Roman Emperor are not bred to stay gruelling trip as Leger and simply believed in the miracle that Be Safe would show his patented speed and destroy the opposition like he had done in the past. To the disappointment of the big crowd at the race course, Be Safe was beaten well before the final bend. Jockey Sandesh was unable to settle Be Safe in a slow run race as the horse took hold of himself and bolted to the front well before the field had travelled half the trip. In such a scenario, the obvious happened. Be Safe was beaten to the third place by Torch Bearer and the champion stood disgraced more by the connections choosing to run him ignoring the ill-effects it would have on the horse as well as to the reputation of racing as well.
Be that as it may, the connections of Be Safe had chosen a pretty run of the mill horse Del Santo as the pace maker. Even in a race like the Leger when horses are restrained and made to crawl, Del Santo struggled to hit the front. After doing so, he did not last out. Be Safe who was racing behind Del Santo was forced to take over the running very early in the race as the horse was not inclined to settle down. Thereafter Sandesh was only a passenger on the horse.
Quasar who settled down beautifully, was ridden in splendid fashion by young jockey Yash Narredu who surely has announced his arrival as a jockey of immense potential. He was not overawed by the situation nor was he perturbed by the fact that Be Safe was so far in front, He waited with the horse before he made his move at around the 800 metre marker and had the front runners covered in no time. When he looked back inside the final two furlongs for the first time, this perhaps was more in shock that he could have it so easy. Thereafter he knew he was in comfort zone as none from behind was making any progress. He had enough time to enjoy the solitary splendour and call the runners from the back to catch up. One could not understand why Tiger Tops was in the fray when she was not in serous work or had good preparation. She was not sighted at any time of the race.
Quasar who is by Seeking The Dia out of Belle Jour is so far ahead of his contemporaries that none in India at the moment could beat him. Quasar could be the first horse to win back to back Invitation Cup races if his connections choose to keep in training. There is talk that he may be retired to stud after running in the Indian St Leger at Pune. There is so much of racing ahead of Quasar if he is kept in training. He could well also win the Bangalore Leger yet again as this race will be weight for age without penalties from next years on the lines of Indian Turf Invitation Cup and not restricted to four year olds only.