Feb 24, 2011


Belle Watling, who beat all comers in her native Chile, came a cropper when fourth at Gulfstream Park in The Very One stakes. The defeat came in her American debut.

South American form has held its own in recent years and buying agents have fanned out to scour the globe in search runners that can compete with the top internationalists.

There's an added bonus in the folks you meet along the way.

Belle Watling is a daughter of Dushyantor (Sadler's Wells) who was bred by the prolific Haras Matancilla of Carlos Hirmas. A few years ago I had the pleasure to spend a day with Sr. Hirmas.

Juveniles from Dushyantor's first crop were beginning to run and they demonstrated unexpected precocity. I remarked that he might anticipate great things as Dushyantor's
progeny began to stretch out to classic distances. He beamed at the suggestion which
came to fruition in the days ahead.

Sadly, Sr. Hirmas died several years ago and I am left with memories of that sun-drenched afternoon when we toured Matancilla. He spoke little English but Keeneland's Chauncy Morris proved an able translator. An elderly hidalgo might best describe Sr. Hirmas who for many years filled an outsized trophy room. It's hard to explain the feeling that I was in the presence of true greatness in lively pursuit of Thoroughbred achievement, culminating in the fabled Belle Watling.

Other unforgettable characters were encountered on that expedition. Marcel Zarour, the grande jefe of the Chilean Jockey Club, along with his charming wife Maria (better known as "Icha". Pedro Hurtado, Jose Gatica, Fernando Fantini, and German Fischer
became fast friends and clients.

In two weeks the Latino Americano race will be run at San Ysidro in Chile. One of the favorites, Casablanca Star, is a son of Dushyantor. I'll be thinking about Sr. Carlos.