• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Kingfisher Ultra Derby Bangalore (Gr.1)
  • Desert God wins The Tetrasoft Inc. Bangalore St. Leger (Gr.2)
By Anil Mukhi
Thursday 30 Nov 2017

The Indian Graded race programme of 2017-18 kicked off belatedly on Saturday, November 25th, with the 50th renewal of the Calcutta 1000 Guineas (Gr.3), a race that has been the stepping stone to Indian Derby success for the likes of Fair Haven and Psychic Flame. In recent years it has been the Rajyotsava Trophy (Gr.3) at Bangalore that has performed the role of Pattern Race # 1 of the season but that event could not accomplish the honours this year due to the licensing troubles at that centre.

Only five could be found to face the starter in the Calcutta 1000 Guineas – against the long-term average of 6.4 runners during its half century of existence – and on official ratings Sana (bay 2014 by Multidimensional [IRE] – Yana, by Razeen[USA]) towered over the quartet that optimistically took her on. The Greentree Stud-bred filly sports the silks of sporting owner, Joydeep Datta Gupta.

The Bharath Singh-trainee was rated from 21 to 45 points clear of her rivals and duly obliged, sauntering home by over 5 lengths once given the office by Dashrath Singh. That Western India-based pilot was recording his second Calcutta classic success, following his narrow win in the Calcutta St. Leger last year with Serendine for the same connections, while Sana became the 15th Usha Stud-foaled winner of this race!

Sana’s story begins in earnest over 80 years ago, when one of the founding fathers of the Thoroughbred, Italian breeder Signor Federico Tesio bought a yearling daughter of Apelle, a stallion bred by him. The son of Sardanapale had won the Italian Derby of 1926 in the silks of Tesio’s breeding operation, Razza Dormello-Olgiata, before being sold for £15,000 to an American owner, for whom he won the Coronation Cup in England.

That daughter of Apelle was a chestnut filly out of Try Try Again, whom Tesio named Tofanella (1931), and who was acquired in 1932 from her breeder in England, Mrs. J.B. Muir, and sent to Italy. A proven stayer, the big-made filly raced well over 2000 m. to 2600 m., annexing a couple of stakes races in her adopted home as well as the Braune Band in Germany. Tofanella gained further renown at stud as the dam of the outstanding stayer Tenerani (later the sire of unbeaten Ribot) as well as Trevisana, champion juvenile filly at 2 in Italy in 1947.

Yet another daughter of Tofanella, and the one that concerns us here, was dual Classic winner Tokamura, herself dam of three Classic winners, one of which was Theodorica (by Owen Tudor), rated as the champion 3-y-o filly of 1955 in Italy. That was a distinction that was well-merited, given her victories in the Italian equivalents of the 1000 Guineas and Oaks, not to forget her triumph over colts in the Gran Premio d’Italia.

Though a detailed discussion of the achievements of Ribot is outside the scope of this piece, it needs to be mentioned that this “all-time great” stood initially in Europe before the lure of the dollar saw him ferried across the Atlantic. And it was thus while Tesio still had easy access to his services that Theodorica was sent to visit his court in 1960, the resultant offspring being a dark bay filly, foaled in France where her dam was on a visit.

Named Teresa Negro, this filly possessed a smattering of talent, enough to win a maiden and place at stakes level – she was third in the Premio Royal Mares. A glance at her pedigree, which shows balanced inbreeding to Tofanella through a son and a daughter, gives an insight into Tesio’s detailed planning of matings, a key factor in breeding for high level success.

Presumably the fact that Teresa Negro had a dead foal to her first covering (by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Match) led to her being sold the following year, carrying to a cover by that brilliant if quirky sprinter Grey Sovereign. The package appealed to American breeder Robert E. Hibbert and off she went from England to Kentucky where she foaled Willowick, a more than useful multiple stakes winner over middle distances in California, who later found a berth at stud in Japan.

In 1970, Hibbert – who also campaigned the likes of Roving Boy and Navarone – sent her to Rex Ellsworth’s home-bred Preakness Stakes winner Candy Spots and begot Naughty Intentions, whose two victories in ordinary events at Santa Anita came via front-running efforts. That might have resulted in her being classified as mediocre; however she atoned for any shortcomings on the track by her feats in the breeding barn as she produced no less than eight foals, all of which won, with two of them being stakes winners.

By far the best of her progeny was Percipient, raced by Hibbert in the care of schooler Joseph Manzi. The daughter of the superbly-bred Topsider notched up 5 wins worth $284,237 and her tally included the Anoakia Stakes and Linda Vista Handicap, both Grade 3 events. Added to that were a trio of Grade 1 placings, all of which made her a most desirable broodmare prospect. So Hibbert added her to his broodmare band.

Her first live foal, by dual Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Alleged was a minor winner, while her second – by leading international sire Riverman – came along on February 21, 1988. Hibbert chose to sell the dark-hued filly as a yearling and she fetched the excellent price of $250,000 when coming under the hammer as Hip # 120 at the Keeneland July Sale of 1989. The successful bidder was Darley Stud Management and when the time came to allot their yearlings to trainers, her new owners elected to entrust her to maestro Andre Fabre in France. She was named Zaya.

Though she placed, Zaya did not win in 3 starts at 2, and by the time she reappeared at 3 she had a new handler, Henri-Alex Pantall, for whom she scored at the first time of asking. That winning bracket over 2000 m. at La Teste Buch was the only one she earned before she was relocated to England, where she was traded more than once over the years at the Tattersalls December Sales. Her fourth appearance at Park Paddocks, which came in 1997, saw her being sold by Lady Juliet Tadgell to Newtown House Stud near Naas in County Kildare, Ireland. The buyers in turn parted with her shortly thereafter to the New Delhi-based Mehra Stud & Agricultural Farm, and she was duly shipped to India, carrying to a 20th April cover by Lanwades Stud’s stalwart, Selkirk.

The resultant foal was none other than the ill-fated Starsky, who shocked in the McDowell Indian Derby of 2002 but was dead just four weeks later. Zaya, now with the [USA] suffix that she acquired upon import into India, had a further five foals in the country, none of which was quite as accomplished as her Derby-winning son. But with her fifth Indian-bred offspring, named Yana (2004 by Razeen[USA]), Zaya[USA] bred another really good one.

Trained by Bezan Chenoy in Western India and sporting the silks of Jaydev Mody, Yana gained Grade 1 honours when finishing first in the 2400 m. HDIL Indian Oaks only to be disqualified for presence of a topical skin corticosteroid. Twenty-one months later she duly gained the accolade when outstaying her rivals in her final start, the 3000 m. Poonawalla Stud Farms & Breeders' Stayers' Cup at Hyderabad.

Retired to the Greentree Stud & Agricultural Farm, Yana has been mated exclusively with the resident son of Danehill, Multidimensional[USA]. Her first foal was the relatively modest winner Zana, while her second is the outstanding late developer Mathaiyus, whose current record stands at 12-8-2-0, and whose tally includes the Indian St. Leger and President of India Gold Cup, both Gr.1 events. Sana is her third foal and there is an unraced two-year-old full-sister named Mea Culpa in training with Arjun Mangalorkar in Bangalore. After missing a year, Yana has a weanling filly, foaled in February this year.

Given the stamina inherent in the family, the consistent Sana should prove to be a formidable force over the longer trips that lie in store for her and looks a sure thing in the Calcutta Oaks, if not the Calcutta Derby. She pays rich tribute to Signor Tesio, the great Italian breeder who developed her family to such telling effect.