Mumbai colt Quasar is Indian racing's top prize winner

Feb 20, 2016, 08:20 IST | Hemal Ashar

With a fortune of Rs 6.5 crore, 5-year-old dashing colt Quasar smashes Indian racing prize money record; will be the toast of a gala at the Mahalaxmi Race Course tomorrow

The dapper blokes seen frequenting Mahalaxmi Race Course are going to have to play second fiddle to a gentleman tomorrow, famed for his talent, bank balance and cool temperament.

Also read: Trainer-jockey duo Malesh and Yash Narredu win 2015 mid-day trophy

Quasar will be felicitated on Sunday in the presence of jockey Yash Narredu, owner Jaydev Mody (left) and trainer Malesh Narredu (right)

Quasar, a handsome five-year-old chestnut colt is going to be felicitated at the paddock on Sunday evening between races for becoming the highest ever prize money earner in Indian racing history. With career earnings of Rs 6.5 crore, he has left behind contenders, Be Safe’s (Rs 5.8 crore), Alaindair (Rs 5.53 crore) and In the Spotlight (Rs 5.28 crore). These are the only four other horses in the country to have scaled the Rs 5 crore stakes peak.

Royal Western India Turf Club’s (RWITC) media and marketing head, Vivek Jain said, "Every sport yearns for a hero, and no one needs one more than horse racing. We see film stars and host fancy events, but the true star will always be the equine."

Quasar has won 16 races since his debut on December 22, 2013. Although a racing horse’s career is shortlived at just two to three years (usually hits performance peak at four years), Quasar looks like there is a big one in him yet. With the Turf Invitation Cup in Chennai scheduled for March 6, if he wins, his earnings will cross Rs 7 crore.

Purchased for Rs 22 lakh, Quasar boasts of owners as illustrious as him. Jaydev Mody (50 per cent ownership) is a real estate magnate and owns some of India’s top casinos; Madhav Patankar (25 per cent) is a Mumbai-based businessman. Pune’s Tanmay Agashe (25 per cent) is an entrepreneur with interests in construction and software.

Also read: Quasar wins Deltin Stayers Challenge

Mody, who is married to top corporate lawyer Zia Mody, said Quasar is the offspring of Seeking the Dia and Belle Jour. The latter is the American broodmare who was imported into India when pregnant. "That’s why Quasar is called a ‘got abroad’ horse. I saw him at a farm and bought him in lieu of another horse. Buying a horse is always such a game of chance. But he is a conscious horse, extremely aware of everything around. He does just enough to win. I love that spirit. Outside the track, it’s a joy to watch him roll playfully in the sandpit."

Quasar notches up another win

For his trainer Malesh Narredu, Quasar is "different". The former top jockey said Quasar has a tendency to put on weight, but when there is a big race, his body language changes. "He is then primed. He’s a professional athlete," added Narredu, whose young son, Yash, rides Quasar with seasoned aplomb.

Despite all of this, Quasar is single. He does not have a ‘girlfriend’, who in equestrian parlance, refers to a filly he may be extra fond of. The owners laugh when asked why.

"Whatever happens, he has already sealed his place in history," said Patankar. "It [his achievement] is like a dream come true. Quasar has been trained and ridden beautifully by the Narredus," added Patankar before signing off. "His traits are admirable. He is relaxed but does enough to win. Quasar is your thorough gentleman."

(Above) Quasar notches up another win; (From left) Co-owners Tanmay Agashe, Madhav Patankar and Jaydev Mody with their prized horse
Co-owners Tanmay Agashe, Madhav Patankar and Jaydev Mody with their prized horse

Agashe will make the trip to Mumbai on Sunday to watch his horse get felicitated. He said, "Quasar is undoubtedly one of the best horses Indian racing has seen. But he is naughty and playful off the track."

It’s likely then that the colt will be smiling to himself at the gala felicitation, wondering what the fuss is all about.

The turn of fortune
Sudden, unseasonal rains in Mumbai in March 2015, had resulted first in the abandoning, then re-scheduling and finally cancellation of the race day. It was to be run after a week. Once again, the most tragic fallout of the event at Mahalaxmi was faced by none other than newly crowned champion, Quasar, and his owners, trainer and jockey.

It was the first Turf Invitation Cup win for trainer Malesh Narredu and his jockey son Yash, who had set a record by winning a prime race at 18. But both couldn’t make it to the presentation dais to receive their trophies since the crowd went on a rampage, believing Suraj Narredu who was astride favourite Be Safe had thrown what was a certain race. They pelted stones and beer bottles at horses and riders, smashing windshields of vintage car that were brought in to carry the Turf Authority dignitaries to the decorative dais erected on the racetrack.

The betting public shouted slogans against the Narredus, refusing to believe Quasar, fresh from a well-deserved spell of rest after a strenuous campaign, was an invigorated horse, although Narredu, in an exclusive piece he had written for mid-day days before the race, had clearly hinted at his improved condition.

The true champion, Quasar went on to win many more races, emerging as the highest stakes earner, and wiping out Be Safe whose loss in the Invitation Cup had deprived him of rightful recognition as the champion of champions. — Prakash Gosavi

His record
Quasar has won 16 races, including 13 graded races, half of which were grade 1. His biggest win came in The Indian Turf Invitation Cup last March. Derby wins: Pune, Kolkata, Hyderabad.

The felicitation
He will be felicitated at the Mahalaxmi paddock on Sunday evening between races by being paraded around the paddock, with a garland. The jockeys, trainer and owners will be given mementos.

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