St Nicholas Abbey beats Japanese champ

March 30, 2013 at 2:00 PM
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 30 (UPI) -- St Nicholas Abbey got the jump on Japan Cup winner Gentildonna in Saturday's $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic and held on to win.

At the end, Gentildonna could not cut into the advantage St Nicholas Abbey built at mid-stretch and she finished second by 2 1/4 lengths. A long shot from nearby Doha, Very Nice Name, finished third with Dunaden fourth and Shareta fifth.

St Nicholas Abbey, a 6-year-old son of Montjeu, finished 2,410 meters over the good Meydan Racecourse turf in 2:27.70 -- the third course record set on this World Cup night.

Joseph O'Brien had the mount for his father and winning trainer, Aidan O'Brien.

St Nicholas Abbey finished second in last year's Sheema Classic behind Cirrus des Aigles, one of the world's top-ranked horses. The younger O'Brien said the owners had suggested to him that, "After that race, have him more forward (this year) and see what happens."

St Nicholas Abbey was just that -- racing with the leaders while Gentildonna, under jockey Yasunari Iwata, rated just off the pace. At the top of the stretch, both kicked on but Gentildonna, forced to go wider, never got to a threatening position.

The defeat ended a five-race winning streak for the Japanese champion.

For St Nicholas Abbey, it added still more luster to a resume that already included such victories in the 2011 Breeders' Cup Turf and the Coronation Cup, in both 2011 and 2012. Saturday's race was his first start since finishing third behind Little Mike in last year's Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita.

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