Exactly 17 three-year-olds will compete tomorrow for the grade 1, Poonawalla Breeders' Multi-Million (PBMM) to be run at the Mahalaxmi racecourse at 6.15 pm. Incidentally, the total stakes money for the richest juvenile race in the country also displays same figure for the prize money, albeit in million!
The big field boasts of high quality juveniles with as many as 14 of the 17 having already been winners of a race. Going by the form, preparation and my Dynamic Ratings, I have short-listed three of them--two colts and a filly--as prime contenders for the top prize, and below my analysis of their chances.
(Please juxtapose three vertical boxes containing the photo, followed by info, followed by analysis in three vertical columns side by side, if possible).
Bay filly, 3y
By Arazan out of Icebreaker
Bred at Exhilaration stud
Trainer: S Padmanabhan
Likely jockey: David Allan
1 run: 1 win
This filly, carrying sponsor Poonawalla family's silks, was brought here from Bangalore by her trainer S Padmanabhan who won the Indian Derby three weeks ago with Desert God. She was all set to take on top local competition in the Asian Racing Federation Trophy, but was withdrawn on veterinary grounds due to playing up during the morning track work. Since then, she has been waiting for the opportunity to display her class, and will go into the PBMM as one of the top contenders. David Allan, Padmanabhan's favourite jockey, will ride her on Sunday.
Bay colt, 3y
By Burden Of Proof out of Alnasreya
Bred at Kunigal stud
Trainer: Pesi Shroff
Likely jockey: P Trevor
2 runs: 1 win, 1 second
Presently, the most forward juvenile colt from champion trainer Pesi Shroff's yard. Scored a stylish victory over Devoted Eyes on debut, but was overpowered by that same filly in next start when racing over this trip (1400m). Some felt the jockey (Trevor Patel, who will be riding him on Sunday too) grabbed the lead a bit too early on that occasion, hence Accolade may attempt a waiting strategy this time as he will be facing a more talented set of rivals now. Working well, and will certainly not go down without a fight. Will carry the silks of liquor baron Vijay Mallya.
Bay colt, 3y
By Phoenix Tower out of Machrihanish
Bred at Manjri stud
Trainer: Bezan Chenoy
Likely jockey: Colm O'Donoghue
1 run: 1 win
Perhaps the most impressive winner on the Mahalaxmi track this season among the juveniles. The field he beat did not amount to much, but his manner of victory had written class all over it. Extremely talented, and a lot more will be heard of him. His striding style suggested that the extra furlong should pose absolutely no problem to him. He seems to be finely balanced for both speed and stamina at this juncture of his career, and should be able to easily hold his own when taking on the top colts and fillies of his age. He will carry breeder Shapoor Mistry's colours in the PBMM.
Final analysis: The Poonawalla Breeders' Multi-Million has many times in the past lived up to the racing maxim that the only certainty in racing is uncertainty. Beginning with Le Gres Cheval, there is a history of shock winners in this most coveted race which is also popularly known as the "juvenile Derby". So it will be in order to talk about some dark horses in the fray.
Besides S Padmanabhan, two more trainers from Bangalore--Darius Byramji and Arjun Mangalorkar--have pitched in Arvak and Common Wealth in the PBMM fray. Trainer Rehanulla Khan, who had caused a stunning upset with Red Buttons in 1994, will also saddle two runners in Queen Credible and Highland Breeze. Trainer Cooji Katrak will try his luck with the pair of In My Dream and Reds Revenge; and Malesh Narredu who missed winning this race narrowly last year with Be Safe, will also saddle two runners--Shivalik Shine and Silver Beauty, the last-named winner of the mid-day trophy on the Valentine's Day.