Pesi Shroff trained Zuccarelli who was the most experienced horse in the fray having run a game second in the Deccan Derby behind wonder filly Miracle, proved his class with a splendid performance, flooring the opposition in taking style en route to winning the Gr 1 Pune Derby, the biggest race of the Pune Racing Season on Sunday. The progeny of Western Aristocrat won the race in a record timing of two minutes 02.28 seconds on a track which was conducive for fast timings.
The Pune racing ended on a high note with a long-drawn card of 10 events. Jockey Sandesh retained his jockeys` championship driving home the winner of the concluding race of the season on Pure which clinched the issue in his favour. Pesi Shroff simply dominated the season and the trainers` championship was his for the asking.
Zuccarelli was the favourite to win the race but there were many who believed that either Bangalore challenger A Star Is Born or Queen of War could upset. In the end, Zuccarelli conclusively proved that he was a cut above the rest, having the race firmly under his control, in the capable hands of veteran jockey Pradeep Chouhan.
Things fell in place for Zuccarelli as stablemate Souza set a scorching pace followed by Multiencrypted, Alistair, Rasputin, Zuccarelli, Regal Command, A Star Is Born and the rest. Pradeep Chouhan made his move fairly early and was in a position to take over the running at the top of the straight. David Egan on A Star Is Born was alert and went chasing the favourite into the straight. Zuccarelli quickened very well and galloped strongly in front even as A Star Is Born put all into his efforts but found the eventual winner too good for comfort. Zuccarelli spared a shade more than two lengths at the finish. Regal Command ran on to take the third position about four-plus lengths adrift of the runner-up. Queen of War made no show.
Experience again made a big difference in the Gr 3 1400 metres F D Wadia Trophy, a terms race for three-year-olds. Hoshidar Daji trained Petronia had won the mile-long S A Poonawalla Million and had the talent and experience to win the race. Pesi Shroff trained Presidential who had recorded a smashing win on debut was the one preferred by the punters though close to race time, Petronia snatched the favouritism. The race was eventful with one of the fancied runners Dragoness dropping its jockey Parmar at the start and Presidential beginning sluggishly. Baby Bazooka who had recorded two back-to-back wins in the last season but performed miserably at Chennai, led the field till the final furlong before being overwhelmed by Petronia who responded well to the urgings of jockey C S Jodha and won with great ease. Baby Bazooka stayed on to finish second ahead of Presidential who made no improvement over his winning effort and looked a beaten cause right from the start.
Imtiaz Sait trained Iron Age is the best sprinter in Western India, Iron Age has been a prolific winner though outside of his home centre, he hasn`t produced the same zest. Iron Age was the money-back favourite to win the Gr 3 Noshir & Dolly Dhunjibhoy Sprint Million, a terms race for four-year-olds and over and he readily won the race to record his 14th win from 21 outings. Jockey Sandesh had him doing his customary front-running. The Manjri Stud Farm bred Iron Age led all the way and did not come under pressure from his opponents while winning the race in a new course record time of one minute 07.99 seconds. St Andrews was second ahead of Gazino.
Pesi Shroff trained Arcadia who was lucky to have won the last time at the expense of stablemate Bold Legend, asserted her supremacy in fine fashion, winning the 1800 metres Pioneer Plate, a race for horses rated 60 to 86, in a new course record timing of one minute 48.87 seconds. After Majestic Warrior set a fast pace and weakened approaching the final bend, Giant Star who was in a handy third position cruised to the lead. Arcadia who was in the rear for the most part of the race began to make his move. Giant Star shot ahead at the top of the straight and shaped like a winner but Arcadia, in the hands of veteran jockey Pradeep Chouhan, finished on strongly, fought out the issue in the final furlong with the front-runner and got strong closer home. Giant Star weakened to finish second. Successor was faraway third.
Narendra Lagad trained Red Merlot asserted his supremacy in the 1400 metres Conrad Pune Cup, a race for horses rated 40 to 66. Jockey Dashrath Singh had Red Merlot seize the initiative early in the straight and established a big lead which turned out to be a winning one. Favourite Tigrio gave a chase but found the winner too good for comfort. Enlightened ran on to finish third. The disappointment of the race was Fast Rain who was a tame fourth and did not show any improvement over his previous eye-catching effort.
Love Warrior from the stables of trainer Dallas Todywalla was spiritedly backed to win the 1400 metres Ruffina Trophy (Div I), a race for horses in the lowest category on the basis of her impressive second behind Empower. Jockey Sandesh had Love Warrior chase Timeless Deeds well into the straight before letting the favourite take charge inside the final furlong. Love Warrior skipped clear to win with ease from late rallying Midas Touch and second favourite Indian Crown. Imtiaz Sait trained Hellbent was the firm favourite in the lower division as the three-year-old had run a noteworthy third behind promising Medora in her last start. However, the temperamental filly did not show early speed, was left to cover too much ground in the straight and eventually ran out of ground. Bold Advance who raced up with the field sailed clear in the straight to win by a widening margin of seven lengths over the favourite. Principessa nosed out Mascara to save place money.
A M Jadhav trained Excelerator had it easy in the 1200 metres Jeremiah Plate (Div I), a race for horses rated 20 to 46. Dilbar led as is her wont but in the final furlong, was overhauled by Excelerator who stormed clear to record an easy win over late rallying Sovereign Master. Dilbar stayed put to save place money. The last race of the day saw Sandesh emerge triumphant on the well-fancied Pure who showed good improvement over his forward run of last time to keep the challenge of strong favourite Monarchy at bay. Windy City was third.