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Vidya Balan gets a sense of Deja Vu' - By Prakash Gosavi

Posted on - 22 Nov 2011

Vidya Balan gets a sense of Deja Vu'

Prakash Gosavi
For Bollywood actress Vidya Balan, it was her first visit to the Mahalaxmi racetrack, but fate made sure she experienced a sense of Deja Vu.

Ms Balan was here to promote her forthcoming film, The Dirty Picture, along with the film's director Milan Luthria, a racing buff who is also the club member.  The film is reportedly based on the life of Silk Smitha, a bold dancer who made it to top in South Indian films after she became famous for her sexy dance numbers. There is a scene in the yet to be released film that shows an out of form horse (of course, owned by none other than the heroine of the film) causing a stunning upset at astronomical odds by winning a race when least expected. 
The scene from the movie almost replayed itself on the track exactly as per the script (except the ownership detail, of course) as an out-of-form horse caused a stunning upset at astronomical odds when least expected--to win the Dirty Picture Trophy.
What made the coincidence stranger was that the winner was named Bold Dancer!
Vidya Balan was the first to be struck by the amazing coincidence. "In the film there is this scene of an old horse owned by my character who wins at big odds against expectations," she revealed after the race, "like this horse did here today, and what a joy to know he's named Bold Dancer, precisely the character I am playing in the film."
Conztanza (Akshay up) had a clean jump and led them all the way, closely followed by Crowned Princess, Kaskazi, Wild Imagination and the rest. At the 300-meter marker, Conztanza stretched out to lead by over two lengths, and it looked like this Mansoor Shah ward would skip away from them all. But another Mansoor Shah trainee, Bold Dancer (F Irani up), who had raced a close last for the first couple of furlongs before getting detached from the field rounding the turn, was stealthily gaining places by deftly maneuvering his way between runners, as was Zaracha (CS Jodha up) who had gained momentum on the outside. Both Bold Dancer & Zaracha were close to each other (in 5th, 6th positions) 150 meters from home when suddenly the former lengthened his strides and swooped onto the front runners with such force that commentator Deepak Rajpal had no hesitation in calling him out a winner even before he actually passed Conztanza. 

Owner Haresh Mehta, whose Conztanza was thus upstaged in the Dirty Picture Trophy by his own trainer's other runner, however had the satisfaction of winning a richer & more prestigious race half an hour later--the Geetanjali Juvenile Million. Jockey Daniel Grant judged the pace superbly when he chose not to contest early speed and let the quartet of Winds Of Fortune, Angels Quest, Astromia and Amazing Desire clock blazing fractions. On straightening up, he closed the gap to race a close fifth at the two-furlong marker, before asking for an effort from Relic Hunter. The Bertolini - Ash Moon progeny took some time to respond, when he finally aligned himself with the leading quartet at the furlong marker, he left them cold in a trice to race away to a fluent victory. Amazing Desire took the runner up berth ahead of Angels Quest & Astromia.

Neither the winning high nor the good luck continued for the high-profile owner whose three-year-old Flash Forward, trained by Sunderji, led at every post along the way in the next race except the final one because, ironically, another Mansoor Shah ward, carrying the same silks as Bold Dancer, upstaged him in the final furlong. Small Treasure (Akshay up) stalked leader Flash Forward, who was also a hot favourite at 5/4 at post time, all the way up to the furlong post where, despite drifting in alarmingly, he surged ahead to win the Starynsky Plate with a fair amount of ease.

Earlier in the day, the Maharaja Of Morvi Trophy, as expected, was won by the Pesi Shroff-trained Cardinal form his sole rival Afsoon. The two runners raced in the same order, and more or less maintaining the same gap, all through the seven-furlong trip. Lajdadj Stephane astride attempted to put pressure on Afsoon midway in the straight, but moderate urging by Prakash on Cardinal was enough to frustrate the runner up who finally finished a length-and-three-quarter behind the winner.

The Sir H M Mehta Trophy was fought fiercely by Haunting Fantasy & Lake Paradise both on the racetrack as well as in the Stewards' room. On the track, Lake Paradise followed Deep Purple, sparing a length to Ariane who in turn was always a length ahead of Haunting Fantasy until they negotiated the final bend. Srinath astride Lake Paradise made his move at the 400m to grab the initiative, and Dashrath Singh on Haunting Fantasy also angled to the outside to take up a striking position. Both riders started urging, almost at the same instant, at the 300-meter marker, and for a moment it looked like Haunting Fantasy was gaining on Lake Paradise. However, the challenger could not keep up the tempo and her situation worsened when Lake Paradise, despite Srinath's left-handed whipping, veered to the outside because of which Haunting Fantasy shied away and partially broke her stride. This happened approaching the 100-meter marker and Dashrath Singh opted to angle inside in the closing moments, but could not renew his challenge effectively, and definitely did not gain any further ground on the winner till passing the winning post. Dashrath Singh tried to win the race back in the Stewards' room. But after due deliberation that dissected the race threadbare, the stewards were still divided in their opinion. The matter was finally resolved by vote, and the protest was disallowed.
The Seth Ramnath Daga Trophy for class I horses saw an exceptional riding display by Ladjadj Stephane who managed to win the race despite a bad start and a hopeless position at the bend.The Bezan Chenoy-trained filly went into the race as a piping-hot half-money favourite, but if a bookie had offered 2/1 on her at the bend, there wouldn't perhaps have been any takers--such was her position at the turn. Due to awkward jumps by two of her rivals Black Magic Woman had a nightmarish start and found herself gracing the wrong end as Bullet and Forest Flair sprinted ahead to lead the five-horse field.
Ladjadj gained a couple of lengths along the rails but Black Magic Woman was still last of five crossing the 300-meter marker, and was cramped for room as she found herself between Kilifi & Demonstrator at that point. Situation however improved as she made a dash in the last 200 meters, and Forest Flair, giving lump of weight to her, came under pressure. It must be said that rookie Akshay rode a wonderful race astride Forest Flair who was headed in the last couple of strides.

The opening race of the day had also seen a similar close finish when at the end of a two-kilometer trip, Arzan (S Zervan up) & Prince Brijendra (C Rajendra up) were separated by only a nose.

For your notebook: Arabian Rock, who should soon choose a 5y & older set that he can beat over seven furlongs or a mile; Haunting Fantasy, who will be a cinch if she again runs a class III race; and Forest Flair, who can resume his winning ways sooner than later.

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