HEAVILY FAVORED VASILIKA TAKES GRADE II, $200,000 ROYAL HEROINE STAKES BY 2 ¾ LENGTHS AS PRAT & HOLLENDORFER TEAM FOR MILE TURF WIN IN 1:33.53ARCADIA, Calif. (April 6, 2019)–One of the best claims of all-time, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s Vasilika became racing’s newest millionaire with an authoritative 2 ¾ length win in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Royal Heroine Stakes at Santa Anita. Handled by her regular partner Flavien Prat, the 5-year-old Skipshot mare got a mile on turf in 1:33.53.Attentive to the early pace, Vasilika was third, about a length off the lead turning for home and quickly kicked clear of Cordiality and Smoovie while easily keeping runner-up Meal Ticket at bay late. A winner of 10 of her 13 starts since being claimed 14 races ago for $40,000 on Feb. 11, 2018, Vasilika, who came off an impressive win in the Grade II, one mile turf Buena Vista Stakes Feb. 23, was off as the 1-5 favorite in a field of seven older fillies and mares and paid $2.60, $2.10 and $2.10.“We broke fine at the rail,” said Prat. “We changed our strategy when I saw Mike (Smith, aboard second choice, Ms Bad Behavior) was out of the race on the first turn and I went to plan B. I can never do anything wrong with this mare. No matter what I do, she covers me. She is definitely something special.”Owned by All Schlaich Stables, LLC, Hollendorfer, LLC, Gatto Racing, LLC and George Todaro, Vasilika, who is out of the Marquetry mare La Belle Marquet, notched her sixth graded stakes win and with the winner’s share of $120,000, she now has earnings of $1,058,595.“I talked to Flavien a little bit before the race and I told him if ‘You wanted to do something a little different, I didn’t mind.’ I think he was a little nervous about being back (off the pace) today, so he kept her a little closer and it worked anyway. She’s doing good right now, that’s for sure.”(It was the second stakes win on the day for Hollendorfer, who won the Cal-bred Evening Jewel earlier and for Prat, who guided Bellafina to victory in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks).Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, Meal Ticket rallied well for the place, finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of Space Talk. Off at 24-1, Meal Ticket paid $8.40 and $6.20.English-bred Space Talk, who was far back early, was easily third, finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of Raven’s Lady. Off at 41-1 with Rafael Bejarano, Space Talk paid $4.20 to show.Ms Bad Behavior, who was eased after breaking on top under Smith from her number two post position, appeared to bolt heading into the Club House turn, but Smith refuted that observation.“No, she didn’t bolt,” he said. “I just didn’t like the way she was moving. I’d rather be safe than sorry.”Fractions on the race were 22.99, 46.31, 1:09.66 and 1:21.69.
…in commemoration of Hanuman JayantiIn observance of the auspicious occasion of Hanuman Jayanti, celebrated on Friday, the Hindus for Selfless Service (HSS) organization hosted the first Hanuman Yatra procession on the West Coast of Demerara.Hanuman Jayanti celebrates the birth of Hanuman, revered as one of the greatest warriors and the greatest devotee of Lord Rama.A section of the processionWith Hanuman’s motto, “I will not rest until Ram’s work is done,” HSS organized the Hanuman Jayanti Yatra for the very first time in Guyana. The procession began at Hague and proceeded west, and at Tuschen and proceeded east, the groups converging at the Nirvana Centre at Meten-Meer-Zorg for a cultural programme. As the Yatra proceeded, led by vehicles playing Hanuman Bhajans and the Hanuman Chalisa, devotees, both young and elderly, came out in large numbers and showed great enthusiasm throughout the event. They were dressed mostly in red traditional Indian garments. Some walked, others rode their bicycles or drove vehicles, all chanting and singing along to the Hanuman Chalisa as they waved their red flags and showed great strength and unity. As devotees from the different villages joined in the procession, a Hanuman flag was planted. This added to the splendour of the event, which kept getting better.At the Nirvana Centre, the groups were welcomed with tassa drumming with great pomp and gaiety. As is customary, tilak was applied to the foreheads and raksha sutra tied to all attendees.The cultural programme featured ISKCON, many local singers and dancers, and a danda (stick fighting) demonstration by sevaks. A chanting from the Ramcharitmanas of a chaupi (verse) from the Sundar Kand Chapter which is dedicated to Hanuman was read by Pt. Charranlall Nandalall on behalf of the West Demerara Pandits’ Organization.Mentore of HSS-Guyana, Ravi Dev, who contextualized the actions of Hanuman in Guyana today, delivered the main message. He said that, like Hanuman who had forgotten his pedigree, Guyanese Hindus need to be reminded about the greatness of their religious heritage. Just as how Sita Mata was abducted and had to be rescued before Ram Rajya could be established, in a similar fashion, he said, much of Indian culture has been abducted over the past 180 years, and needs to be rescued for the community to move forward.Hanuman bhajans were sung lustily, and Hare Krishna chants kept the crowd enthralled in an atmosphere of delirious joy.