Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Sunday, May 15

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/15/2011 #

International Jockey Arrives from India for Arlington Season;Second Arlington Million Prep at Pimlico on Preakness Day; Brad Rainwater Issued Illinois Trainer’s License

Jockey Suraj Narredu, a native of India who reached the 1,000-career win milestone faster than any other rider in that nation’s Thoroughbred history, arrived at Arlington Park late last week and is listed on Wednesday’s racing program for his first scheduled engagement aboard a horse named Absolutely Ali currently on the also-eligible list.

Appearing in Arlington’s press box about six-and-a-half hours after his plane touched down in Chicago following 18 hours on a plane for a 15 hour and 30 minute flight from Delhi, Narredu exuded the professionalism of a world-class athlete while immaculately attired in a blue pinstripe suit.

Narredu, 26, was accompanied on his journey by wife Riya, while his father, mother,  and brother remain in India.  Both his father Satish and his uncle Malesh formerly were prominent jockeys who have since become senior trainers.  The younger Narredu began his career at the BARI riding school in Bangalore as a 12-year-old, and has been riding professionally for eight years.

“I came to the United States because I want to continue to develop a reputation as a truly international jockey,” said the soft-spoken Nerredu, who made his first international assignment a winning one by capturing the Festival International Kreol Cup during the International Jockeys Weekend Challenge on the Island Nation of Mauritius.

In that race as part of the Rising Stars division, Nerredu defeated top French riders Mickael Barrzalona and Maxine Guyon, British jockey Hailey Turner and South African star Donavan Mansour.

However, the vast majority of Nerredu’s victories to date have been recorded in India at Bangalore Turf Club and at Mahalaxmi Racecourse in Mumbai, including one aboard Becket in the Group I Indian Turf Invitation Cup in March of 2010 for owner Harresh Mehth and trainer “Paddy” Padmanabhan.  That owner-trainer tandem brought the Indian-bred Holding Court to Chicago to run in Arlington’s 2007 Rossi Gold Stakes.

Nerredu’s American engagements will be handled by agent Doug Bredar, who is also handling the book of French-born jockey Florent Geroux.

“We’ll see how things work out after Suraj gets settled,” said Bredar, “but for the time being, we’re going to concentrate on getting Suraj mounts in the Midwest, not only at Arlington but at places like Prairie Meadows, Indiana Downs, and  hopefully in Kentucky and beyond.”

International racing fans, particularly those from Chicago who plan to attend the Grade I Arlington Million Aug. 13, are reminded that on Preakness Day this Saturday Pimlico will also host the Grade II Dixie Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at a mile and an eighth over the Baltimore lawn.

The $200,000 grass affair annually serves as the second stepping stone on the road to the Arlington Million, which observe its 28th renewal on the second Saturday in August.

Brad Rainwater, son of the late longtime trainer Owen Rainwater who died less than a week ago at age 75, has turned in his own assistant trainer’s license and has been issued a trainer’s license to take over his father’s stable.