Deleted image removed: This file is a candidate for speedy deletion. It may be deleted after Saturday, 20 September 2008. |
Arazi winning the 1991 Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs
|Breeder||Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.|
Allen E. Paulson|
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
|Arazi is a thoroughbred racehorse out of Danseur Fabuleux by Blushing Groom. He was born around 1989 in the United States, and was bred by Ralph C. Wilson, Jr..|
Prix La Flèche (1991)|
Prix du Bois (1991)
Prix Robert Papin (1991)
Prix Morny (1991)
Prix de la Salamandre (1991)
Grand Critérium (1991)
Breeders' Cup Juvenile (1991)
Prix Omnium II (1992)
Prix du Rond Point (1992)
American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt (1991)|
European Two Yr-Old Male Champion (1991)
European Horse of the Year (1991)
|Horse (Equus ferus caballus)|
Arazi (born March 4, 1989 in Kentucky) is an American-bred Thoroughbred racehorse from France whose performance in the 1991 Breeders' Cup Juvenile is referred to by the U.S. National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) as one that is considered by many to be the single-most spectacular performance in Breeders' Cup history.
A chestnut colt with a crooked white blaze on his forehead, like his grandfather Northern Dancer, at 15.2 hands Arazi was a small horse compared to most Thoroughbreds. Bred by Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., owner of the NFL Buffalo Bills, he was bought at the Keeneland Sales in Kentucky as a weanling for $350,000 by American businessman Allen E. Paulson. The wealthy Chairman of Gulfstream Aerospace and a pilot, Paulson named the horse for the Arazi aeronautical navigational checkpoint in the Arizona desert. Allen Paulson was the owner of stables in the United States and in Europe and sent Arazi to France where the renowned trainer François Boutin took charge of his conditioning.
Ridden by jockey Gerald Mosse, as a two-year-old, Arazi had a brilliant racing season, ranked as one of the best in racing history. In France, he won six of his first seven races, thrilling French racing fans with his come-from-behind style. Able to instantly switch to high gear and explode past any horses in front of him, Arazi would then run away with an easy victory. By the end of the summer he was labeled by racing experts as among the very best of Thoroughbreds racing in Europe irrespective of age. In October, his American owner prepared to bring him to the United States for the 1991 Breeders' Cup. However, prior to the race, Shiekh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum made owner Allen Paulson an offer he couldn’t refuse: $9 million for a 50% share in Arazi.
While Arazi's owners, racing fans, and professional horsepeople, all believed they had witnessed truly spectacular performances in his six major-stakes wins in France, no one could have contemplated what was to come on November 2, 1991 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
1991 Breeders' Cup
Those who watched Arazi's performance in the 1991 Breeders' Cup Juvenile still talk about it to this day. In the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) special series in 2006 titled Spiraling To The Breeders' Cup, in Part 2  the NTRA wrote that: "Arazi turned in what many still consider to be the single-most spectacular performance in Breeders' Cup history."
Racing for the first time in the United States, Arazi was up against the best two-year-old Thoroughbreds in the world. Previously, seven European horses had won a Breeders' Cup race but all had been on grass. A number had tried to win a Breeders' Cup on dirt but each had failed and in fact not one had ever even managed a second place finish. For Arazi, it was his first ever race on dirt. To make matters even more difficult, the little colt drew the last post position, the worst starting place possible in a field of fourteen horses.
Among the competitors in the Juvenile was the highly regarded California champion, Bertrando. A future Eclipse Award winner, Bertrando came into the Breeders' Cup having won the Grade I Norfolk Stakes and the Del Mar Futurity.
Ridden by American jockey Pat Valenzuela in the bright red-white-and-blue silks emblazoned with the AP letters, Arazi had to start the race from the farthermost outside position. Bertrando broke into an early lead and set a quick pace. By the time the field reached the far turn, Arazi was almost dead last and more than a dozen lengths behind the front-running Bertrando. Suddenly, in what the NTRA describes as a breathtaking move, Arazi stormed through the field until he came up behind the third and fourth place horses. He darted between the two and then swung wide to pull up next to Bertrando. Thinking there was now going to be a dramatic head-to-head battle with three-sixteenths of a mile to go, NBC Sports race announcer Tom Durkin enthusiastically called out:
"And now the stage is set as they move to the top of the stretch" --- then in an astonished voice Durkin exclaimed: --- "and Arazi runs right by him!"
Arazi pulled away from Bertrando and the field; then, after being taken under a hard hold by his jockey, almost cantered across the finish line. As he did, race announcer Tom Durkin proclaimed "Here indeed is a superstar!" Durkin noted that Arazi could have perhaps won by as much as ten lengths had he not been slowed by his jockey but even so he still had the biggest winning margin in the history of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Today, the NTRA says, racetrackers often describe a sweeping move on the far turn with the phrase, He just pulled an Arazi.
Arazi's performance earned a Timeform rating of 135, a score ummatched for a two-year-old and astonishing when most of the world's top older Thoroughbreds rate lower than that and two-year-olds rate on average from 110 to 120. . For his 1991 season, Arazi earned the United States Eclipse Award for Outstanding Two-Year-Old Male Horse, the Cartier Award as Two-Year-Old European Champion Colt, and an extreme rarity for a two-year-old, he was also voted Cartier's Horse of the Year, the most prestigious honor in European racing.
While Arazi's victory led to members of the racing establishment immediately anointing him the favorite for the May 1992 running of the Kentucky Derby, shortly after the Breeders' Cup his racing future was soon placed in doubt when the colt had to undergo arthroscopic surgery to remove chip fractures from the top joint on both knees. His owners breathed a sigh of relief after the operation was declared a success and the colt was sent to recuperate at his home base at Lamorlaye about 35 kilometers north of Paris. Arazi's recovery took longer than trainer Francois Boutin had hoped for but five months later transplanted American jockey Steve Cauthen scored any easy win in the Prix Omnium II, a 1 mile (1600-meter) race on the grass at Hippodrome de Saint-Cloud.
Mythical and almost Mystical
Not since Silky Sullivan in 1958 had any horse received as much pre-Kentucky Derby publicity as Arazi. And no horse had ever been hailed as such a sure-fire winner. Newspaper reporters and television crews flocked to Louisville's Standiford Field to meet Arazi's plane. In interviews, jockey Steve Cauthen rated the colt in the same class as Affirmed, on whom he had won the U.S. Triple Crown in 1978. Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who had ridden Arazi in his spectacular Breeders' Cup win and who had won the 1989 Derby aboard Sunday Silence said: "Arazi can do more [than Sunday Silence]". Valenzuela then added: "This race is over."
In the days leading up to the Kentucky Derby, the press talked about nothing except Arazi, and the racing world speculated as to whether the superhorse would remain in the United States in an attempt to win the Triple Crown or be shipped back to Europe to try to become the first Kentucky Derby champion to ever win England's Epsom Derby. The New York Times called the colt "mythical and almost mystical" and even TIME magazine wrote, "Arazi is fast winning a reputation as the second coming of Secretariat". Joe Hirsch, the respected founder and first president of the National Turf Writers Association and a multi award-winning columnist with the New Jersey-based Daily Racing Form was quoted by TIME as saying: "He [Arazi] is such an extraordinary animal that he makes other great horses look like hacks."
1992 Kentucky Derby
For the 118th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 1992, Arazi drew post position #17 in the large field of 18. The extremely difficult placement meant he would begin the race from an auxiliary starting gate far to the outside of the track. Despite the severe handicap of starting so far back in such a large field of horses, confident bettors wagered as much on Arazi to win as was wagered on all other seventeen horses combined.
Having raced only once in the previous seven months, from the start of the race the overly energetic colt had to be kept in check by his jockey. Sitting near the back of the pack, once past the ¾ Mile pole Arazi made the kind of explosive move he was famous for. Running eight horses wide, and mirroring his dramatic performance in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the colt flew past horse after horse with ABC television announcer Dave Johnson suddenly exclaiming "Arazi is flying! - Arazi is gaining ground with every stride!" The crowd roared with expectation as the superhorse stormed into third place, tightly bunched with the leaders. As they approached the home stretch, instead of easily pulling away as he had always done, Arazi tired badly and faded to finish a shocking 8th. Lil E. Tee, an unheard of colt and an 18:1 longshot, won the most prestigious race in America.
The intelligentsia's post-mortem of Arazi's performance was one of dismay. All agreed that his knee surgery had in fact affected the horse's ability. Some blamed his poor showing on the colt having been limited to only one easy prep race on soft grass before the Derby while others said he was a "mile" horse and the Derby's extra ¼ mile was too much. The stunning upset even spawned a book, The Longest Shot: Lil E. Tee and the Kentucky Derby by Baltimore Sun sportswriter and racing commentator, John Eisenberg.
Returned to France, Arazi raced four more times. Although he won the Grade II Prix du Rond Point, he was never the same. His final race was a return to the U.S. where faithful fans made him the 3:2 betting favorite in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Gulfstream Park.
Arazi was retired to Sheikh Mohammed's horse breeding operation at Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket, England. Sheik Mohammed purchased Allen Paulson's 50% share and later moved Arazi to Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky before he was sent to a breeder in Japan in 1997. He then went to the Independent Stallion Station in Victoria, Australia in 2003. Arazi spent one season at Swiss breeding facility Gestut Sohrenhof and returned to Independent Stallion Station in 2006. He recently produced a gray colt named Karazi who won three races in France before being shipped to Del Mar for the 2007 meet.
Among Arazi's offspring is Congaree who won the 2001 Wood Memorial Stakes, the 2002 and 2003 Cigar Mile Handicap, and the 2003 Hollywood Gold Cup and Carter Handicap. It may turn out that his lasting reputation is as a top broodmare sire: the progeny of mares by Arazi include the ill-fated Electrocutionist, winner of the Dubai World Cup, and Bribon, winner of the Metropolitan Handicap(Grade I) in 2009. The percentage of runners to winners from these mares seems to be well above that of the population and right up there with the best producers.
|Runaway Bride||Wild Risk||Rialto|
|Fabuleux Jane||Le Fabuleux||Wild Risk|
|Native Partner||Raise A Native|
- John Eisenberg The Longest Shot: Lil E. Tee and the Kentucky Derby (1996) University Press of Kentucky ISBN 0-8131-1956-1