Trainer Cooji Katrak's horses stunned their more fancied rivals to post authoritative victories in two of the three races run under the floodlights as part of the first evening racing card at the Mahalaxmi racecourse on Saturday. One of them, Devoted Eyes, bagged the feature event of the night, the Zavaray Poonawalla Evening Racing Triple Million, winning the much publicised 23-kg silver trophy and pocketing a cool cash prize of about Rs 2 million.
Neeraj Rawal astride Cooji Katrak-trained Devoted Eyes on Saturday. PIC/SURESH KK
After glitzy fireworks lit up the Mahalaxmi skies to the delight of huge crowds that had gathered to witness racing under the floodlights, 15 class IV horses, with their coats shining much more than the colourful silks worn by jockeys, made their way to the starting gates at the 1000m marker from where the starter flagged them off for the upper division of the Western India Horse Owners’ Association.
In the first race of the season under the lights, two horses named Majestic Light & Diwali Lights missed the jump and were left behind, even as jockey Amyn Merchant astride Cooji Katrak-trained Stardom Calling went in chase of Mind Of Madness (SJ Sunil up) all the way, and finally waltzed away to the rhythmic beat of a boisterous crowd to overpower the leader close home. In the very next race, the stellar attraction of the evening, the ‘triple crown’ race, it looked like all the money in the world was riding on Allora, the hot favourite trained by Sanjay Kolse. And to the delight of the crowd, Allora (Dashrath Singh up) hit the front from the word go, and looked like running away from the field with a furlong to go. Just then, Neeraj Rawal astride Cooji Katrak ward, Devoted Eyes, produced an astounding gallop to get up from the fifth position and swoop on the favourite in the final 30 meters to give Cooji Katrak a back-to-back double. The winner was owned by Dr YK Hamid and Atul Amarsey and was bred at the Usha stud farm of Aneeta Mehra.
The last and final race under the floodlights was won by public fancy Denny Crane, trained by Pesi Shroff and ridden by jockey Akshay.