|Breeder||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)
|Last updated on June 27, 2011|
Arazi (born March 4, 1989, in Kentucky) is an American-bred Thoroughbred racehorse from France, whose performance in the 1991 Breeders' Cup Juvenile is considered by the U.S. National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) as one of the most spectacular in Breeders' Cup history.
A chestnut colt with a crooked white blaze on his face (like his grandsire, Northern Dancer), at 15.2 hands Arazi was a small horse by Thoroughbred standards. 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. Chairman of Gulfstream Aerospace and a pilot, Paulson named the horse for the Arazi aeronautical navigational checkpoint in the Arizona desert. Paulson owned racing stables in the United States and Europe; he sent Arazi to France, where the renowned trainer François Boutin took charge of his conditioning.
1991: two-year-old season
Ridden by jockey Gerald Mosse, as a two-year-old Arazi had one of the best seasons 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 shift into high gear and explode past any horses in front of him, Arazi would run away with an easy victory. By the end of the summer, he was considered among the best Thoroughbreds racing in Europe, regardless 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: $9 million for a 50% share in Arazi.
Arazi competed in the 1991 Breeders' Cup Juvenile on November 2, 1991, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Part two of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) special series in 2006, titled Spiraling To The Breeders' Cup, states, "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 faced the best two-year-old Thoroughbreds in the world. Previously, seven European horses had won Breeders' Cup races, but all had been on grass. A number had failed to win a Breeders' Cup race on dirt; in fact, no one had even finished second. For Arazi, it was his first-ever race on dirt. The colt drew the last post position, the worst starting place possible in a field of 14 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 bright red-white-and-blue silks emblazoned with "AP", Arazi started from the far-outside post. Bertrando broke on an early lead and set a quick pace. By the time the field reached the far turn, Arazi was far back, more than a dozen lengths behind the front-running Bertrando. Suddenly, in what the NTRA described as a breathtaking move, Arazi progressed through the field until he reached the third- and fourth-place horses. He darted between the two, swinging wide to pull up alongside Bertrando. NBC Sports race announcer Tom Durkin called: "And now the stage is set as they move to the top of the stretch...". Then Durkin added: "...and Arazi runs right by him!"
Arazi pulled away from Bertrando and the rest of the field; then, after being taken under a hard hold by his jockey, he almost cantered across the finish line. As he did, Durkin exclaimed, "Here indeed is a superstar!" Durkin noted that Arazi could have won by as much as ten lengths had he not been slowed by his jockey, but he still had the biggest winning margin in the history of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Today, the NTRA says, some race fans still 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, in comparison with an average two-year-old rating of 110 to 120. For his 1991 season, Arazi earned the United States Eclipse Award for Outstanding Two-Year-Old Male Horse, the Cartier Champion Two-year-old Colt and (rare for a two-year-old) Cartier's Horse of the Year (the most prestigious honor in European racing).
While Arazi's victory led to his early favoritism for the 1992 Kentucky Derby, shortly after the Breeders' Cup his racing future was placed in doubt when the colt underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove chip fractures from the top joint of both knees. The operation was controversial; press reports suggested that his trainer, Francois Boutin (an expert with 2-year-olds), thought it was a mistake. The operation was successful, and the colt was sent to recuperate at his home base at Lamorlaye, about 35 km north of Paris. Arazi's recovery took longer than Boutin had hoped, but five months later, transplanted American jockey Steve Cauthen won easily with him in the Prix Omnium II, a mile (1600m) race on the grass at Hippodrome de Saint-Cloud.
1992: three-year-old season
Not since Silky Sullivan in 1958 had any horse received as much pre-Kentucky Derby publicity as Arazi; no horse had 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 Breeders' Cup win and won the 1989 Derby aboard Sunday Silence said, "Arazi can do more (than Sunday Silence)." He added, "This race is over."
In the days leading up to the Kentucky Derby, press coverage of Arazi was extensive, and the racing world speculated as to whether the horse 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 TIME magazine stated, "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."
For the 118th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 1992, Arazi drew post position 17 in a large field of 18 horses. The outside post meant he would begin the race from an auxiliary starting gate on the outside of the track. Despite this handicap, bettors wagered as much on Arazi to win as on the other seventeen horses combined. Having raced only once in the previous seven months (apart from the Prix Omnium at St Cloud, which was more of a public workout than a race), from the start of the Derby the energetic colt had to be kept under wraps by his jockey. Near the back of the field for most of the race, after the quarter pole pole Arazi made a quick move. 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 exclaiming, "Arazi is flying! - Arazi is gaining ground with every stride!" The crowd roared as the colt surged into third place, tightly bunched with the leaders. As they approached the homestretch, instead of pulling away as he had always done previously, Arazi tired badly and faded to finish eighth. Lil E. Tee, a little-known colt and an 18-1 longshot, won the most prestigious race in America.
The racing world's reaction to Arazi's performance was dismay, and the consensus that his knee surgery had affected his ability. Some blamed his poor showing on the fact that the colt had made only one prep start on soft grass before the Derby, while others said he was a "miler" horse and the Derby's extra quarter-mile was too much for him. The upset spawned a book, The Longest Shot: Lil E. Tee and the Kentucky Derby, by Baltimore Sun sportswriter and racing commentator John Eisenberg.
Returning to France, Arazi raced four more times, where he won the Grade II Prix du Rond Point. His final race was a return to the US, where fans made him the 3-2 favorite in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Gulfstream Park. He finished 11th.
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, returning to Independent Stallion Station in 2006. He sired a gray colt named Karazi, who won three races in France before being shipped to Del Mar for the 2007 season.
Among Arazi's offspring are Congaree, who won the 2001 Wood Memorial Stakes, the 2002 and 2003 Cigar Mile Handicap, and the 2003 Hollywood Gold Cup and Carter Handicap. His reputation may be as a broodmare sire; offspring from his daughters include the ill-fated Electrocutionist, winner of the Dubai World Cup; Lahudood, winner of the 2007 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf and Eclipse Award champion turf filly; Bribon, winner of the Grade I Metropolitan Handicap in 2009; and Americain, winner of the Melbourne Cup in 2010.
|Runaway Bride||Wild Risk||Rialto|
|Fabuleux Jane||Le Fabuleux||Wild Risk|
|Native Partner||Raise A Native|
- Arazi's five-generation pedigree and race record Retrieved 2011-06-27.
- Joseph Durso, "The Man at the Controls of Arazi's International Team". New York Times, April 26, 1992 Retrieved 2011-06-27.
- Timeform website Retrieved 2011-06-27.
- Ian Thomsen, "Arazi Masters His '92 Debut, Cruising to 5-Length victory". International Herald Tribune, April 8, 1992 Retrieved 2011-06-27.
- Adam Zagorin Saint-Cloud, "Cadillac Colt The favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, Arazi races like the Second Coming of Secretariat". Time, May 4, 1992 Retrieved 2011-06-28.
- Jaime Diaz, "A Burst of Speed Followed By a Perplexing Slowdown". New York Times, May 3, 1992 Retrieved 2011-06-28.
- John Eisenberg, The Longest Shot: Lil E. Tee and the Kentucky Derby. (1996) University Press of Kentucky ISBN 0-8131-1956-1
- Joseph Durso, "Now for the Election. No, Not That Election". New York Times, November 2, 1992 Retrieved 2011-06-28.