Arazi, the France-based colt who scintillated in the 1991 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs in his dirt debut but notably failed to reproduce that form the following spring as an odds-on favorite in the Kentucky Derby (G1), has died at the ripe age of 32. A pensioner since 2012, Arazi was a resident of Stockwell Thoroughbreds in Victoria, Australia.
A leggy chestnut with three distinctive white stockings, Arazi took the racing world by storm as a two-year-old for owner Allen Paulson and trainer Francois Boutin. After finishing second in his debut at Chantilly, Arazi reeled off six stakes wins in a row in France, including the Prix Morny (G1), Prix de la Salamandre (G1), and Grand Criterium (G1) at the top level by a combined margin of 11 lengths.
Shipped to the U.S. for the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs, Arazi started as the 2-1 favorite in the Juvenile despite not having ever run on dirt. In one of the defining moments in Breeders’ Cup history, Arazi turned in an explosive rally from last, picking off rivals one by one as if they were standing still, and drew away to a five-length win while not asked at all by jockey Pat Valenzuela.
“Here, indeed, is a superstar!” roared announcer Tom Durkin at the end of the Juvenile, a race that garnered Arazi Eclipse Award honors as the nation’s leading two-year-old male.
A half-share in Arazi was later sold to Sheikh Mohammed for $9 million, but off-season surgery delayed the colt’s preparation for the Kentucky Derby. Despite turning in only one prep, in a small stakes going a mile at Saint-Cloud, which he won by five lengths under Steve Cauthen, Arazi started as the 9-10 favorite in the Derby 25 days later.
Making a bold move into contention around the far turn, one reminiscent of his Breeders’ Cup rally, Arazi briefly loomed a serious threat to pull off the Derby as well. However, the son of Blushing Groom failed to sustain that bid and weakened to eighth in the final quarter-mile.
Arazi was beaten as an odds-on choice in both the St James’s Palace (G1) and the Prix du Prince d’Orange (G2) in his next two starts, but bounced back a four-length winner of the Prix du Rond Point (G2) at Longchamp in early October. He returned to the U.S. for what would be his final start, the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Gulfstream Park, but never factored when finishing a retreating 11th to Lure as the 3-2 favorite. He was retired with a record of 14-9-1-1, $1,208,475.
Arazi’s most notable offspring was multiple Grade 1 winner Congaree, who placed in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness (G1) in 2001. As a broodmare sire, Arazi was represented by 2007 champion turf mare Lahudood, Melbourne Cup (G1) winner Americain, Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Electrocutionist, and Grade/Group 1 winners I’m Your Man and Bribon.
Bred in Kentucky by Ralph Wilson, Arazi was produced by Danseur Fabuleux, a Group 3-placed daughter of Northern Dancer who also reared Group 1-winning miler Noverre.