(Photo : Courtesy of Kathleen Irwin – Team Valor International)
VISIONAIRE’S FIRST STAKES WINNER IN AMERICA
America’s Laurel Park was immortalized by the late John Schapiro’s staging of the once-fabled Washington DC International (Gr.1), the first truly international horse race in the world, in 1952. Its luminaries include the Champion South African sire, Wilwyn (1952), Bald Eagle (1959 and 60) Kelso (1964), Fort Marcy (1967 and 70) and Sir Ivor (1968), while in the human realm, the colourful Egyptian trainer (in France) Maurize Zilber, racked up 4 victories, and Lester Piggott and Manuel Ycaza threw their legs over three of the race’s celebrities.
While the “DC” International is no longer (“squeezed” into oblivion by the advent of the Breeders Cup), Laurel continues to stage quality racing, and it was the scene this weekend of the first Stakes victory for the progeny of our young resident sire, Visionaire, whose daughter Bacopa Breeze, did literally that, “breezing” to a comfortable ¾ length victory in the $100 000 Smart Halo Stakes. You may have been justified in thinking our banging on about the first of the Visionaires was a publicity stunt, but the reality is they’ve been catapulting home by margins of 11 lengths, 10 lengths, 8.5, eight, 5.5 and five etc, and in registering this victory, Bacopa Breeze remained unbeaten in three since switching from the tapeta to the conventional dirt.
As stallion masters, we’re all searching for the next “big thing”, and while we’d like to think there are several of those fish in our pond, events in America in recent times are telling us we can look to Visionaire and Brave Tin Soldier with a measure of confidence. You can never be smug in this game, but you can at least enjoy a bit of comfort from events like these, and with Admire Main’s Stallion Prospect of the Year award on Saturday evening, there’s a rumbling momentum developing in our valley.