Vardy — impressive winner of Saturday’s R1.5m L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate at Kenilworth — could head for the US later in 2020 to run in the Breeders Cup meeting in Keeneland.
A Breeders Cup invitation is one of the prizes for the grade 1 win and 2020’s meeting will be held in Lexington on November 6 and 7.
However, a more imminent date for trainer Adam Marcus’s star four-year-old is the Sun Met on February 1 for which bookmakers quote the son of Var as the 5-2 second favourite. Hawwaam, who failed to place on Saturday, remains the market leader at 16-10.
It was a red-letter day for 30 year-old Marcus and 24-year-old jockey Craig Zackey, with Vardy coming with a sustained run from the rear of the field to mow down his opposition. One World ran second with Rainbow Bridge close behind in third.
It was an excellent start to the New Year for Business Day racing followers with Vardy starting at odds of 17-2. Our Friday headline was: “Vardy could score in blockbuster Queen’s Plate.”
This was the second grade 1 success for the Marcus stable and Zackey this season after Mississippi Burning’s victory in the Cape Fillies Guineas. Marcus, son of legendary jockey Basil Marcus, began his training career in 2012 with just six horses.
Vardy was bred by the Tawny Syndicate and there is sure to be huge interest in his half-brother by Gimmethegreenlight who will be offered for sale at the CTS Premier Yearling Sale at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Thursday.
One of Vardy's owners is former stockbroker Greg Blank who has enjoyed considerable success as a racehorse owner. He was understandably delighted with Saturday's win and said. “This is one grade 1 that has eluded me — we had a ticket in it and we came and we won.”
Bookmakers laid some hefty wagers on the favourite Hawwaam, but Mike de Kock's rated colt failed to run a place for the first time in his life.
De Kock said later “the shenanigans at the start left me speechless”. He was referring to the 25-minute delay as a result of runners having to be reshod and a broken bridle attended to. Nevertheless, the four-year-old is still favourite for the Sun Met.
Soqrat, a close second in the Summer Cup, looked strong backup for the De Kock yard, but — possibly not helped by the delay — the Aussie import was never a factor.
One World, second to Vardy in December’s Green Point Stakes, turned in another top effort for trainer Vaughan Marshall and earned the runner-up cheque of R300,000. Rainbow Bridge’s third placing took his career earnings over R5.4m.
The grade 1 Paddock Stakes provided the De Kock stable with compensation for their Queen’s Plate disappointment with Irish-bred Queen Supreme decisively outpointing her opposition. If a decision is made to run her in the Met, that would put a different slant on the Cape’s premier race.
Confidently ridden by Callan Murray, Queen Supreme is a daughter of Exceed And Excel whose progeny fetched big prices at last week’s Magic Millions sale in Australia.