Patrick Valenzuela had a good idea of what he would have under him when French trainer Francois Boutin gave the rider a leg up on a little horse named Arazi, to run in the 1991 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs. Arazi was a sensation in France, and American owner Allen Paulson, the founder of Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., invited Valenzuela to his California home to view videos of the horse’s spectacular European successes.
“I went to his house,” Valenzuela told Privman. “We’re sitting in his living room, and there’s no TV. Mr. Paulson hits a remote, and down comes this projection TV. The whole wall was like a screen.”
“If you win the Breeders’ Cup on this horse, you’ll get a TV like this,” Paulson told Valenzuela.
Arazi drew the far outside No. 14 post position and was 13th as the field rounded into the backstretch of the 11/16th-mile race. “I wanted to move up a little,” Valenzuela said. “I smooched to him, and he took off.”
Like one of Paulson’s Gulfstream jets.
“Whenever he saw an open spot, he went right through it,” said Valenzuela. “It was like playing a video game in an arcade.”
(All of the 222 Breeders’ Cup races are available at YouTube. To see Arazi pull Valenzuela through the holes, type in “Breeders’ Cup Arazi.” It’s worth it.)
Arazi flew by horses so fast that as he turned for home centrifugal force carried him wide from the rail. But no matter. The pony-sized colt won by five lengths, eased at the finish.
Everybody thought they’d just seen the fastest thing ever.
It turned out Arazi never duplicated that moment. But for that one autumn day in the sunshine, he was IT.