Golden Goal wins Maktoum Challenge Round 1 at the first meeting of the Dubai World Cup Carnival. Photo courtesy of Dubai Racing Club
Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The first meeting of the Dubai World Cup Carnival was the big doings in weekend horse racing, as some of last year's heavy hitters returned from long vacations to sort out their chances for big races set for the next few months.
Three-year-old races at Tampa Bay Downs could have opened the Derby and Oaks doorways at least a crack for the winners. At Oaklawn Park, 9-year-old Rated R Superstar proved it's unwise to overlook the old guys.
We also have in "News and Notes" the Eclipse Award finalists announced Saturday.
On to the action.
Friday's first meeting of the Dubai World Cup Carnival might not have turned up any hot contenders for February's $20 million Saudi Cup or the World Cup itself, but it did frank the class of some old warriors coming off long layoffs and confirmed the promise of a regally bred 4-year-old colt.
The evening's feature was the Group 2 Maktoum Challenge Round 1, the first in a series of three races designed as a progression to the World Cup. Instead, the 1-mile test was dominated by milers as Golden Goal held on gamely through the final 100 meters to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Secret Ambition.
That result reversed the finish of last year's Group 2 Godolphin Mile and might presage a nice competition between the 8- and 9-year-old veterans.
Golden Goal, an 8-year-old gelding by Dark Angel (IRE), got the rail early in Round 1 and held the advantage, winning by 1 1/2 lengths. In last year's Godolphin Mile, it was Secret Ambition on the lead and winning by 6 lengths over Golden Goal.
"The Creek Mile was a good start," said winning rider Sam Hitchcott. "He just got a little tired at the end. He's progressing."
In a race filled with very accomplished older horses, a 4-year-old Curlin colt out of the champion mare Blind Luck was a standout. Making just his third career start, Kafoo put in a bold late run to finish third, albeit 3 1/4 lengths farther back, but obviously looking for more distance. Watch for him as he gains experience and stretches out.
The Group 2 Cape Verdi for fillies and mares on the turf produced a mild upset as Pevensey Bay, with Olivier Peslier up, rallied from the back of the 10-horse field to run by the leaders in the final 100 meters and win by 3/4 length over Swedish-bred Ascot Brass.
Pevensey Bay, trained by Hiroo Shimizu, was making her UAE debut off a second-place finish in a listed race at Deauville on Dec. 20.
"She started a little slow," Peslier said. "But in France, we don't start quick. So I didn't panic. ... Very good acceleration."
Peslier said he hopes to return to Dubai to ride Pevensey Bay in the Grade 2 Balanchine Stakes (G2) on Feb. 4.
Godolphin struck in the first turf race of the Carnival as Dubai Future split rivals at the top of the stretch and quickly drew off to a commanding victory in the Dubai Racing Club Classic at 1 1/2 miles on the turf. Star Safari made it 1-2 for Godolphin.
Dubai Future finished fifth in the 2021 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic won by Mishriff and most recently was eighth in the Group 3 Bahrain International Trophy.
"A good start for him," Cosgrove said. "I hope he can go on from here. I can't see why he wouldn't be good enough."
Godolphin made it back-to-back wins as Sovereign Prince got a perfect trip to win the Jumeirah Classic Trial for 3-year-olds at 7 furlongs on the grass. Sovereign Prince found a nice opening on the rail and scooted through to the lead in the lane. Sed Maarib, an American Pharoah gelding, put in a late outside run to finish second.
"He's a consistent little horse," winning trainer Charlie Appleby said. "The race worked out perfectly. The leader peeled off the rail and give William a space. It was a race-winning move, probably."
Meanwhile, back in the States:
The Road to the Roses
The slim odds that Saturday's $125,000 Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs would impact the Kentucky Derby got a little shorter, even though the favorites could only finish second and third behind moderate long shot Markhamian.
Markhamian, a Florida-bred colt by Social Inclusion, easily outfinished Provocateur to win by 2 1/2 lengths with the favorite, Cattin, flattening out in the final furlong to finish third. Markhamian, with with Marcos Meneses riding for trainer Juan Avila, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.23.
Markhamian finished second in his first start Sept. 25 at Gulfstream Park, then won his next start easily after a two-months break. Cattin was making his fifth start after winning the local Inaugural Stakes in his previous race.
Provocateur, a $600,000 yearling buy racing for the MyRacehorse syndicate and Spendthrift Farm, was coming off a maiden win over the Tampa Bay course Dec. 23 for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Winning owner/breeder Sergio Ripamonti was thrilled with the stubborn victory and did nothing to discourage speculation Markhamian could be headed to the $250,000 Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 12.
"I thought he might be done on the turn, but this horse has a lot of [guts]." Ripamonti said. "Marcos did a good job urging him, and he had the heart to get it done. It was a courageous effort and he drew away at the end."
On Saturday at Santa Anita, Fast Draw Munnings, launched a stretch bid in Saturday's $200,000 California Cup Derby for state-breds and got by the favorite, Straight Up G, in the final strides, winning by a neck. Finneus was third.
Fast Draw Munnings, a Munnings colt trained by Jeff Mullins, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:46.99 with Drayden Van Dyke riding.
Mullins didn't indicate immediate ambitions outside the California-bred ranks.
"Obviously, he's pretty versatile," the trainer said. "I think he can go one turn, two turns and he may even like the turf. With these kind of Cal-breds you have to jump wherever you can and I think he's proved that he can."
The Churchill Downs-sponsored "Road to the Kentucky Derby" resumes next weekend with the $200,000 Grade III Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds. That event awards points on the 10-4-2-1 scale and there are some promising contenders on the Louisiana-Arkansas axis. The $100,000 Leonatus Stakes is run Saturday on the Turfway Park all-weather track.
The Road to the Oaks
Outfoxed swung four-wide to launch her bid in Saturday's $125,000 Gasparilla Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, made steady progress through the stretch and got there first by 3/4 length. Goddess of Fire rallied from next-last of seven to finish second, 3/4 length in front of Strategic Bird.
Outfoxed, a Valiant Minister filly, got 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.37 for jockey Samy Camacho. It was her third straight win, following the last two legs of the Florida Sire Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
"The water is going to get deeper from here on, and I think her toughest tests are ahead of her," winning trainer Bill Mott said. He said the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes at Tampa on Feb. 12 could be an option for Outfoxed's next start.
"We want to keep the doors open at Tampa and elsewhere," Mott said.
On the turf at Santa Anita, Rose Dawson came from the clouds to win Saturday's $200,000 Leigh Ann Howard California Cup Oaks for state-bred fillies by 1 length over Big Novel.
The lukewarm favorite in a well-matched field, Vivacious Vanessa, got home third. Rose Dawson, a Grazen filly, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.07 for jockey Flavien Prat.
Rose Dawson was coming off a 5 1/2-furlongs maiden race on the dirt at Los Alamitos and owner/breeder Nick Alexander said trainer Phil D'Amato talked him into taking a shot on the grass in a stakes race.
"I mean Phil is the smartest guy in the world and he said he wanted to do it," Alexander said. "I just said, 'Okay. We don't have anyone else.' He obviously knew something I didn't know."
Next weekend features the $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds and the $100,000 Busanda at Aqueduct.
Saturday's $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes might just as well have been the "Jude Feld Old Guys Rule" Stakes with the nine starters averaging just a shade under 6 years of age. So it was only appropriate the oldest of the lot, and the second-longest shot in the field, Rated R Superstar, should outfinish pacesetting Mucho to win by a neck.
Thomas Shelby was third and the favorite, Concert Tour, the only horse in the field as young as 4, finished last.
Rated R Superstar, a 9-year-old Kodiak Kowboy gelding, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37.16 with David Cabrera up for trainer Federico Villafranco. It was his 10th win to go along with 10 seconds and eight thirds from 57 starts.
Winning owner Danny Caldwell, who claimed Rated R Superstar a year ago at Oaklawn for $50,000, said, "The horse did all the work. We gave him a break and Frederico did a great job bringing him back. David Cabrera gave him a perfect ride. He's one of those hard-knocking horses that just knows his job."
Battle Bling could see all her rivals -- at least all of them with riders -- through the first half of Sunday's $100,000 Ladies Stakes, rallied four-wide turning for home and was up in time to emerge victorious by a neck. Miss Leslie was second, 1/2 length in front of Kiss the Girl.
Battle Bling, a 4-year-old Vancouver filly, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:57.11.
Exotic West stumbled and went to her knees at the start, a mishap memorialized by the Equibase chart-caller thus: "Exotic West stumbled badly at the start pecking the ground and tossing the rider from the saddle into an agile jogging dismount, gave chase sans rider until apprehended by the outrider and walked off under her own power."
Shamrocket was along in the late going to win Saturday's $75,000 Sunshine Classic for Florida-breds by 1/2 length over Sir Ollie. Nacho Pappa finished third after taking the lead briefly in the lane.
Shamrocket, a 5-year-old son of Tonalist, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:52.26 with Javier Castellano aboard for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Gatsby tracked pacesetting favorite Cool Quest through the opening furlongs of Saturday's $100,000 Sunshine Sprint, sprinted by that one and went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths. It was another 3 1/4 lengths to Pudding in third.
Gatsby, a 4-year-old Brethern gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.11 with Luis Saez in the irons.
Aligato raced well back early in Saturday's $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic for California-breds, ranged up four-wide to challenge for the lead and cleared to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Camino Del Paraiso was along for second, a nose in front of Ferrariano.
Aligato, a 5-year-old gelding by Kitten's Joy, ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:48.29 with Flavien Prat riding.
Leggs Galore showed foot galore in Saturday's $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint for California-breds. The 5-year-old Bayern mare shot right to the front from the No. 11 gate and never looked back, winning by 2 1/4 lengths while running 6 1/2 furlongs down the hillside course in 1:12.99 under Ricardo Gonzalez.
Alice Marble was second, 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Eddie's New Dream. The favorite, Warren's Showtime, was fourth.
Brickyard Ride went quickly to the stretch in Saturday's $150,000 Don Velpredo California Cup Sprint, opened a big advantage and coasted home first by 1 3/4 lengths. Positivity was second with Letsgetlucky third.
Brickyard Ride, a 5-year-old son of Clubhouse Ride, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.54 with Juan Hernandez riding. The race was for California-breds.
Tampa Bay Downs
Nantucket Red quickly surged to a big lead in Saturday's $50,000 Wayward Lass Stakes for fillies and mares, rejected a challenge midway through and went on to win by 3 lengths over the favorite, Allworthy. Don't Get Khozy was third.
Nantucket Red, a 7-year-old Get Stormy mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.53 with Olaf Hernandez in the irons.
Majestic Eagle raced to the lead in the stretch run in Friday's $60,000 Walter R. Cluer Memorial Stakes and kicked away to win by 1 3/4 lengths over the favorite, Tiger Dad. Zoffarelli was another 3 lengths back in third.
Majestic Eagle, a 7-year-old Medaglia d'Oro gelding trained at Santa Anita by Neil Drysdale, ran 7 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:28.56 with Harry Hernandez up.
Brooke stalked the pace in Friday's $60,000 Queen of the Green Stakes for fillies and mares, seized the lead nearing the quarter pole and drew off to score by 1 length over Cover Version. My Crafty Gal finished third.
Brooke, a 6-year-old Chilean-bred mare by No Nay Ever, toured 7 1/2 furlongs on firm going in 1:29.06. Drayden Van Dyke was in to ride for trainer Mike McCarthy.
Bella Dona led virtually from gate to wire in Sunday's $100,000 La Senora Stakes for New Mexico-bred 3-year-old fillies, kicking away at the end to win by 4 lengths. Running for Grace was second, 3 lengths in front of Real Me.
Bella Dona, an Attila's Storm filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.17 with Lindey Wade in the irons. It was her sixth win from seven starts, all against fellow state-breds.
News and Notes
The finalists for Eclipse Awards, in alphabetical order. Winners will be announced Feb. 10.
Two-Year-Old Male: Corniche, Jack Christopher, Modern Games (IRE)
Two-Year-Old Filly: Echo Zulu, Juju's Map, Pizza Bianca
Three-Year-Old Male: Essential Quality, Life Is Good, Medina Spirit
Three-Year-Old Filly: Clairiere, Malathaat, Santa Barbara (IRE)
Older Dirt Male: Knicks Go, Maxfield, Mystic Guide
Older Dirt Female: Letruska, Marche Lorraine (JPN), Shedaresthedevil
Male Sprinter: Aloha West, Flightline, Jackie's Warrior
Female Sprinter: Bella Sofia, Ce Ce, Gamine
Male Turf Horse: Domestic Spending (GB), Space Blues (IRE), Yibir (GB)
Female Turf Horse: Loves Only You (JPN), Santa Barbara (IRE), War Like Goddess
Steeplechase Horse: Baltimore Bucko (GB), Snap Decision, The Mean Queen (IRE)
Owner: Godolphin LLC, Juddmonte Farms Inc., Klaravich Stables Inc.
Breeder: Calumet Farm, Godolphin LLC, Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC
Trainer: Steve Asmussen, Chad Brown, Brad Cox
Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr., Flavien Prat, Joel Rosario
Apprentice Jockey: John Hiraldo, Charlie Marquez, Jessica Pyfer (Abstain)