African Story won the $10-million Dubai World Cup on March 29 at Meydan Race Course. (Photo by Dubai Racing Club)
A top-notch day of racing around the world started early Saturday morning in the United States as the Dubai World Cup meeting’s first Thoroughbred race of the day went off at 9:10 a.m. ET. There were some surprise winners and some favorites who made their way to the winner’s circle during the world’s richest day of racing.
African Story came into the final race of the night best known as the 2012 Godolphin Mile winner. He left the racetrack at Meydan on Saturday a Dubai World Cup victor.
African Story had a dream run from the start, finding a spot on the rail early on. He raced in third behind Mukhadram until the field turned into the stretch. Silvestre De Sousa took African story to the outside of Mukhadram as soon as they were clear of the field and the pair battled briefly in the stretch, but African Story kicked away for a comfortable win in the $10-million race.
The winner was the key to an Al Maktoum family trifecta as African Story runs for the family’s Godolphin Racing operation and Mukhadram, who finished second, runs for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum. Third-place finisher Cat O’Mountain rounded out the Al Maktoum top three. He is trained by the recently added Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby.
“It was great. It’s just an amazing feeling and proves that he is the best,” African Story’s jockey De Sousa said after the race. “We did it. It’s the whole team. It’s Saeed [bin Suroor, the gelding’s trainer] and Brian, the assistant trainer, the [exercise] riders, everyone involved. It’s just crazy … just the story. We had a few hard luck races early on but he just saved the night.”
DUBAI WORLD CUP TROPHY PRESENTATION
Photo by Dubai Racing Club
African Story has only run twice since competing in last year’s Dubai World Cup, in which he finished fifth. He finished second to Prince Bishop in his first start back earlier this year and then eighth in his last race after hitting his head on the starting gate at the break.
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has been involved with African Story since the horse was born. His Darley stable bred the gelding and he is one of the owners involved with Godolphin.
After its big night in Dubai, Godolphin Racing may have more to cheer for later today as it owns a majority interest in Cairo Prince, one of the favorites for the $1-million Florida Derby.
Toast of New York coasted to victory in the UAE Derby on March 29 at Meydan. (Photo by Dubai Racing Club)
While Toast of New York flew under the radar going into the United Arab Emirates Derby, the colt took home the victory and gave jockey Jamie Spencer his second win of the night.
Toast of New York blew by the competition in the stretch from midpack to win the race and provided trainer Jamie Osborne with his first winner with his first starter at the Dubai World Cup.
Toast of New York raced right behind the leader for most of the race with Spencer sitting cool on the horse. When the horses neared midstretch, Spencer asked his mount to go and Toast of New York showed amazing acceleration to pull away to a 2 ½-length victory.
When asked about going to the Kentucky Derby - Toast of New York earned 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby - owner Michael Buckley didn’t have any concrete plans for the Triple Crown-nominated colt.
“We entered him in the Triple Crown a long time ago, so it will be a thought. But I have no idea what we’ll do,” he said.
Asmar was second and Emirates Flyer finished third. Giovanni Boldini, second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, finished fourth.
One year after finishing second in the Dubai Sheema Classic, Gentildonna avenged that loss by winning this year’s edition of the $5-million race.
Gentildoinna was in the second pack of the field nearing the far turn. Ryan Moore started to ask Gentildonna to move toward the front of the field, coming off the rail and going between horses.
In the stretch, it looked like Gentilladona might not get out from behind the leaders in time when a few openings closed in front of her, but once Moore took her to the outside of Cirrus des Aigles, she unleashed a powerful rally to get the win.
GENTILDONNA (red cap) WINNING DUBAI SHEEMA CLASSIC
Photo by Dubai Racing Club
Cirrus des Aigles finished second and Ambivalent rounded out the top three. U.S. runner Twilight Eclipse finished off the board.
This takes the Japan wonder mare’s record to nine wins in 15 starts. She posted her second win since finishing second last year in the Sheema Classic.
One of the most competitive and highly anticipated races of the night, the Dubai Duty Free drew some of the best horses of the world and Just a Way proved to be the very best of them.
Just a Way dropped back early in the race, content to let most of the field get ahead of him. He moved up on the outside and after getting a clear path and then looked like he was shot out of a cannon.
The horse literally blew the competition away by covering the 1 1/8-mile distance in a time of 1:45.52 to shatter Sajjhaa’s previous course record of 1:47.93.
The official margin of Just a Way’s victory was 6 ¼ lengths.
Previously unbeaten Vercingetorix finished second, and last year’s U.S. champion turf female Dank was third.
The first Thoroughbred race of the day saw South Africa strike first when Variety Club prevailed in the Godolphin Mile from the front end.
Variety Club broke from post position 15 and shot across to the rail in the early stages of the race to take the lead. It was all easy sailing from there, as Variety Club never was seriously challenged. He beat fellow South African Soft Falling Rain, who won this race last year, by a length. Breeders’ Cup winner Flotilla was impressive coming from behind to get involved in a photo with Soft Falling Rain and only lost second by a nose.
The reigning South African Horse of the Year had his nine-race winning streak snapped in the local prep for this race when Shuruq beat him by three-quarters of a length, but Variety Club was much the best in the Godolphin Mile.
Variety Club will make his next start in the Hong Kong Mile while Soft Falling Rain will be going back to Europe, where he ran last season.
The upset of defending winners continued in the Dubai World Cup when Certerach narrowly defeated Calvaryman in the 2-mile Dubai Gold Cup.
Certerach was in the second half of the field throughout the early running and made the lead in the stretch. However, when Certerach reached the lead, he drifted to the rail and it looked for a moment that he impeded race favorite Calvaryman, who finished second by a neck.
There was a brief objection at the end of the race from Cavalryman’s jockey, but after a few minutes Cavalryman’s trainer Saeed bin Suroor withdrew his jockey’s objection and Certerach was officially given the win.
Star Empire finished behind the top pair in third.
Certerach’s winning time of 3:23.14 for the 2 miles made it the fastest in Dubai Gold Cup history.
Amber Sky blasted out of the starting gate in the Al Quoz Sprint and led from start to finish to win by a neck in the $1-million turf sprint.
The race, held on the straight on the turf course, was the perfect run for the Hong Kong-based horse as he quickly seized command and held the advantage every step of the way. Jockey Joao Moreira set it up so race favorite Shea Shea would have to challenge his mount from the left, which is known as Shea Shea’s weaker side.
The win was Moreira’s first win on Dubai World Cup night.
Ahtoug finished second and Shea Shea, who won this race last year, finished third. American-based Berlino Di Tiger looked like he might make a bid for the win at midpoint in the race but faded to finish off the board.
Hong Kong got another win on Saturday when Moreira won his second race in a row on Sterling City in the $2-million Dubai Golden Shaheen.
Americans had cause to be hopeful that the country might get a win on the card when Zee Bros took the early lead and held it into the stretch of the six-furlong race. Rich Tapestry took command from him for a short run, and from there on out it was Sterling City, who had stalked Zee Bros from the rail in fourth before going a few paths out to get the lead in the late stretch. Hong Kong completed an exacta as Rich Tapestry held on for second.
America was represented in the top three however as United Color is a son of U.S. Horse of the Year Ghostzapper out of a Langfuhr mare and was bred by Adena Springs in Kentucky.