By Brad Gray
A New York-based mare whose rookie trainer claims is the “one of the fastest horses in the world” could be a wildcard for the inaugural running of The Everest.
Paquita Coqueta is a former Chilean-trained sprinter who lines up on Sunday (US time) in the Smart N Fancy Stakes (1100m) at Saratoga and if she runs as well as her trainer Chad Summers expects her to, the six-year-old could be sighted at Royal Randwick come October.
“My horse is wicked fast. Very, very fast early which I think is quite different from how the races are generally run in Australia. I thought it could be quite interesting if she were to get loose on the lead,” Summers told Racing NSW.
“She has done a half mile in California before in 43 seconds.
“I’m expecting a huge effort on Sunday and at that point we have to quickly follow up because she’ll have to start the quarantine process almost immediately afterwards if she wants to make it.”
Summers, who only took out his trainer’s licence in January this year, made headlines in March after Paquita Coqueta’s classy stablemate Mind Your Biscuits won the $2m Group One Dubai Golden Shaheen. What’s so remarkable about that? Well, it was Summers first win as a trainer.
“When I got the trophy I thought about just dropping the mic and retiring there on the spot. You can’t do any better than that. It’s a dream come true,” Summers laughed.
“I think The Everest is a great idea. When we went to Dubai a lot of people said we were crazy. We were taking a New York-bred to Dubai and they said that we didn’t have a chance but we won.
“The one thing with (this stable) is that we are not afraid of a challenge. The world is so much smaller now and even though it would a 23 hour flight, to be able to do that would be truly unique.
“We’re all about supporting new things and new ventures and then the second thing, is the curiosity to find out what American speed equates to in Australia. To be honest I don’t really know.”
Paquita Coqueta won 14 races in Chile, including at Group Two level, before she was sent to Summers to chase prize money and more black-type. The six-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy, which is the same sire as 2018 Everest hopeful Lady Aurelia, will be bred to two-time American Horse Of The Year California Chrome next year.
Summers, who fell in love with stable life after originally pursuing a career in racing media, was keen to know more about the runners already locked into their respective slots and quickly started to piece together the puzzle.
“These two precocious sorts (Houtzen and She Willi Reign), are they going to rattle her cage and kill each other off over a half mile for the big grey beast (Chautauqua) come flying down the outside and run us all down? It’s certainly a possibly,” Summers said.
“Could she clear the three year olds and get a breather from the 400 to the 800m and have something left to finish? That would be the question.
“We feel like we have one of the fastest horses in the world in terms of what she does. She is what we call in the States, ‘Quarter Horse fast’. As soon as those gates break she is gone. Where what would translate I don’t know but let’s get through Sunday and if she does what I think she will, it could make for a very interesting week next week.”
Whether or not Summers attempts to scale The Everest with Paquita Coqueta this year, the $10m sprint feature is certainly on the gregarious trainer’s wish list.
“We see what Wesley Ward has done from the States or what Mike de Kock and Aidan O’Brien do elsewhere so we’re all for running our horses in the best races in the world and not thinking that we are boarded in,” Summers said.
“It’s really a crazy wager but we’re not afraid to gamble. (In our industry) there is not enough of trying to see what happens. Everybody wants the sure thing and in horse racing there is no such thing as a sure thing.
“My first winner as a trainer was a two million dollar race in Dubai so I wouldn’t mind my tenth winner to be a 10 million race in Australia.”
Meanwhile, Summers declared that champion mare Winx, who could shortly surpass Arrogate as the top ranked horse in the world, has certainly caught the attention of those in America.
“Australian racing is definitely picking up popularity over here in the States. Then you have a wonder horse like Winx. We were up at 2am in the morning to watch her do what she did the other day,” Summers said.
“Hats off to her and all of her connections. She really is a wonderful horse and hopefully we do see her outside of Australia – whether that be Ascot, Dubai or the States to see if she can do what she does, elsewhere.
“To compile the record that she has, I don’t care who you beat, it’s not an easy thing to do at that level of competition.”