Dubai World Cup Undercard: Tragedy Amidst Winning Performances

Horses from around the world were showcased on the eight Dubai World Cup undercard races from Meydan in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday evening, but the death of Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Zenden, who suffered a catastrophic front leg injury while galloping out past the finish of the six-furlong dirt race, left a pall on the event.

Zenden, a 5-year-old who was winning a graded/group race for the first time in his 15th career start, turned in a career best performance under UAE-based jockey Antonio Fresu, going straight to the front and never seriously being threatened while winning by open lengths. He sustained the injury just after Fresu gave the horse a celebratory slap on the neck, stumbling and throwing his jockey to the ground. Fresu dodged trailing horses and escaped unharmed. In the day’s finale, the Dubai World Cup, Fresu was dislodged from Military Law when that horse broke through the starting gate and ran off before being scratched.

Owned by LLP Performance Horse LLC, Zenden is trained by Carlos David, a former assistant to indicted horseman Jason Servis. David won his first race as head trainer in November 2018 and had a breakout season in 2020, winning 52 races from 231 starts (23%) while compiling earnings of $1.6 million. The $1.5-million Golden Shaheen was his first graded/group win.

Zenden began his career racing for owner Pichi Investments LLC and trainer Victor Barboza, placing second in the 2019 G3 Swale Stakes and then finishing off the board in a pair of Kentucky Derby preps. When the Kentucky-bred son of Fed Biz returned to competition that fall to win a Gulfstream Park West allowance race, he had changed hands, with Todd Pletcher listed as trainer and LLP Performance Horse as owner.

Zenden had three more starts for Pletcher in the winter of 2020, finishing fourth in the G3 Mr. Prospector Stakes, second in the G3 Fred W. Hooper Stakes and ninth in the G2 Gulfstream Park Mile Stakes, then went to the sidelines again.

When Zenden returned on Oct. 9, 2020, it was in the barn of David. He won a Laurel Park allowance, then ran ninth in the Frank Y. Whiteley Stakes at the Maryland track on Nov. 28. He surfaced at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 19, finishing last of 12 runners in the G3 Mr. Prospector. Zenden then was beaten a head by Edgemont Road in an allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 15. He returned to the Oldsmar track to win the listed Pelican Stakes by a head over Souper Stonehenge on Feb. 13. Zenden breezed once in the U.S. following that race, going three furlongs in :38.38 on March 6, prior to his departure for Dubai.

Following are the recaps provided by the Dubai Racing Club for each of the Dubai World Cup undercard races:

French-trained Deryan (FR) broke the track record when he lifted the US$750,000 Dubai Kahayla Classic Sponsored by Mubadala, the opener on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan, in 2 minutes 11.87 seconds.

Ridden by former French champion jockey Ioritz Mendizabal, the 6-year-old had secured a perfect position on the rail, just off the pace, and easily picked up the leader AF Alwajel 200m from the winning post to win by three-quarters of a length from the Ernst Oertel-trained AF Alwajel, while Mubasher Al Khalediah finished a further three and a half lengths back in third.

He did it really well this time,” said winning trainer Didier Guillemin, who had lifted the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan on the same card with The Right Man in 2017. “He was quite nervous last time when he ran in Riyadh. This time, he was much calmer and we rode him differently, a little further back. I’m extremely proud to win a Group 1 here and to win it for owner Sheikh Mansour is just amazing.”

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nayan is not only the owner but also the breeder of the chestnut and wins this race for the second time after Rabbah De Carrère lifted the trophy in 2014.

For Ioritz Mendizabal it was a first victory in this dirt race and he said: “Last time in Riyadh, I was outside and he didn’t gallop and relax. Today I spoke to the trainer and he said it was important, after (leaving) the gate to stop him and relax behind horses. He galloped and relaxed and after the first corner, I was in the (right spot). Turning (into the straight), I knew I would win.”

Secret Ambition (GB) hardly saw another rival when availing of a perfect front-running ride from Tadhg O’Shea in the Group 2 $750,000 Godolphin Mile Sponsored by Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City – District One. 

The Satish Seemar-trained 8-year-old made full use of his barrier position in stall 2 to lead the field from early in the race and clock a very quick time of 1:35:36 while recording a six-length success. 

Secret Ambition was one of only three course and distance winners in this 15-runner renewal of the Godolphin Mile and it was another course and distance winner in Golden Goal who finished second, while Avant Garde was back in third. 

O’Shea, who afterwards dedicated the success to His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, was keen to follow similar tactics to when the pair were impressive winners of the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes at Meydan back in February and those tactics certainly paid off as the horse recorded a career best. 

Winning trainer Satish Seemar said afterwards: “All week I’ve been saying that in this race there was no more experienced horse for this distance. At the post position draw, he was prominent in every race they would show him in the videos. He’s the most deserving horse in this field and most experienced and it’s perfect. With us they improve as they get older and this has worked out well. As planned, Tadhg did it by the book. This is what we live for here in our jobs. Nothing better than having a winner on this night.”

Bursting with joy after the success was jockey Tadhg O’Shea, who paid tribute to the team at Zabeel Stables.

“I’m only a small part of big team, and it’s great for all the team and credit must go to them. Satish told me the other day he was the best horse in the race and how right he was,” said O’Shea. 

“We tried 2000m with him last time and that didn’t work. I had a lovely gate today and luckily Secret Ambition was on his best behaviour and he wasn’t on the back foot jumping, so he broke well. I wanted to get to the lead if at all possible and luckily I was able to and it worked out good. I filled him up before I kicked. He went for his wind and had a nice breather, so I had plenty left and I felt if anyone came to me, he would pull out again.”

Dedicating the win to His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the multiple champion jockey in Dubai added: “The whole racing world sadly lost Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum this week and I want to dedicate this to him. It was when I was champion apprentice in Ireland in 2001 that Sheikh Hamdan sponsored a trip to Dubai and I’m coming back here ever since. I have been here a long time and it wouldn’t have been possible without him.”

Last year’s Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak winner Subjectivist (GB) ended a 22-year hiatus on Dubai World Cup night for Britain’s winning-most trainer of all time, Mark Johnston, with a brilliant victory in the US$750,000 Dubai Gold Cup Sponsored by Al Tayer Motors.

Johnston’s longstanding stable jockey Joe Fanning tracked the early leader For The Top before hitting the front around 1200m from home and powering clear to a five-and three-quarter lengths success from German-trained runner Walderbe. Away He Goes was a head further back in third. The winning time was 3:17:77.

“We’ve had Carnival winners but this is the first success on World Cup night for 22 years,” said Johnston, whose last success was Fruits Of Love in the 1999 Dubai Sheema Classic.

“But frankly, we hadn’t been bringing the right horses. We came here today thinking surely he was the one to beat. He was a Group 1 winner on his last outing, he didn’t have to improve – he just had to run up to his best.

“People doubted him on the ground but he’d just never run on anything this fast. When I walked the course I didn’t think I’d seen a turf track in the world in a better condition than this.

“All the ducks were in a row and there was no reason he shouldn’t run up to his best, which he has done.”

For Fanning it was a first success on Dubai World Cup night from his first mount. “He’s a good horse and there was a bit of juice in that ground, which suited him,” said the jockey.“He settled well and I was always going so easy before the turn in. He stays very well. I rode him out here yesterday and thought the ground was good. I think he’ll go on any surface. He’s a good horse and has loads of ability and I think he’s a better horse this year.”

The Brendan Walsh-trained Extravagant Kid (USA) became the first American-trained winner of the US $1m Al Quoz Sprint Sponsored by Azizi Developments when he burst through the ranks to beat the Godolphin filly Final Song by half a length, followed in third place by Acklam Express.

The field had initially split into three groups and Ryan Moore produced an inspired ride when he took the son of Kiss The Kid towards the stands’ side from where he launched his attack to take the lead in the final 50m. 

The 8-year-old Extravagant Kid not only created history for the USA by winning the race in 01:09:26 but also produced a personal best, as he had been placed in Graded races before but had never actually won one.

“What an unbelievable race,” said his owner David A Ross. “His trainer Brendan Walsh had a good feeling about him, he came into the race well, Brendan had him prepped well. He really liked the venue here and we thought we would take advantage. As an 8-year-old, what about that?”

Irish-born Brendan Walsh, a former assistant to Godolphin who is based in the United States, has a perfect record at Meydan where he has now won 2 races from 2 starts after the victory of Plus Que Parfait in the 2019 UAE Derby.

He said: “No credit must go to me, I just put the saddle on. My lad here looked after him and he was very pleased with him.”

And Ryan Moore, who recorded his first success in this 1200m sprint, commented: “It was a very messy race. The speed looked like it was going to be stands’ side but we had to make a decision. Space Blues and Khaadem were going, they were the best horses and gave me a bit of toe. The horse ran a super race at Keeneland (in the Breeders’ Cup). He is a very talented horse. You’ll have to watch out for Brendan when he comes back here!”

Rebel’s Romance (IRE) realised the promise that his connections hoped he would when the son of Dubawi ran out an emphatic winner of the US $750,000 UAE Derby Sponsored by Emirates NBD. 

Trained by Charlie Appleby, ridden by William Buick and carrying the familiar blue colours of Godolphin, Rebel’s Romance opened up a world of opportunities for himself when coming from off the pace to reel in the front-running Panadol and draw an impressive five and a half lengths clear as they flashed past the winning post. 

It was a first UAE Derby success for Appleby and Buick and a first success on the night for Godolphin. Charlie Appleby admitted talk of a possible tilt at the Kentucky Derby next was “a nice conversation to be having” after Rebel’s Romance put his first career defeat in Saudi Arabia behind him in the best possible fashion and looks set to be a horse who will write many more headlines in 2021. 

This UAE Derby success certainly looks set to be a springboard to a bright future for Rebel’s Romance with Appleby saying after the race: “We’ll be working back from the Dubai World Cup next year” when speaking about future plans. 

Reflecting on his latest big race win on Dubai World Cup night, Appleby said: “He is still very much a work in progress and he looked much better tonight than he did in Saudi Arabia. I think the biggest attribute to him today is that he was going to stay. We were always confident he was going to stay. Stepping up in trip was going to be his forte.”

Rebel’s Romance had won both his starts in Britain on the all-weather surfaces at Newcastle and then Kempton late last year before beginning a lucrative campaign by winning the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial at Meydan back in January. 

Appleby continued: “We’ve all seen year-in and year-out here, you can’t do well with your European horses until they start racing on [dirt]. It’s invaluable the experience they gain on it and he had his two starts on the surface and it was always our plan. When you see your horses wide on the back of that turn, you start to worry, but he was always travelling so well into it. Down the back straight I saw half of them coming under the pump and I thought ‘don’t worry, he’s just coming good at the right time now.’ It’s great for the team. Most importantly it’s good for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, who has a lovely horse win on Dubai World Cup night. I’m just delighted we’ve managed to put one into the back of the net.”

Buick said: “I was always where I thought I would be. He breaks a little bit slow, so I never thought I would be up there. He doesn’t have much speed early and I was quite happy with the draw because I knew I could control where I would be and I did. Once I got out, he just bolted. I was a little bit worried I was getting there a little early; a little too quick, but that was some performance tonight. He’s really come on and he’s a big horse, but he’s still a shell. He really knows how to use his power now.”

American raider Zenden (USA) ran out a brilliant victor of the US $1.5m Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored by Gulf News but there was a sad postscript when the winner suffered a fatal injury after the finishing post. 

Winning Rider Antonio Fresu was unshipped from the horse although he was able to walk away after the fall.

A first Dubai winner for trainer Carlos David, the Fed Biz entire came to the race on the back of a successful prep run at Tampa in Florida. He looked to have an unfavourable draw in 14 of 14 but Fresu made a swift move early in the race to take a rail position and they were soon leading the field.

Zenden powered clear of his competition as he turned into the home straight, eventually winning by three and a quarter lengths.

Red Le Zele, trained by Japanese handler Takayuki Yasuda, finished second. The Doug Watson-trained Canvassed was two and three-quarter lengths further back in third. The winning time was 01:09:01.

The stands might not have been filled as usual at Meydan, but that didn’t stop Frankie Dettori from making his traditional flying dismount after the John Gosden-trained Lord North (IRE) lifted the US $4m Dubai Turf Sponsored by DP World in great style.

As expected, First Contact had gone to the lead in this 1800m race, while Dettori had positioned his son of Dubawi one off the rail towards the back of the field.

Coming out of the final bend, he kicked on and Lord North responded immediately, absolutely flying home all the way to the line to beat Japanese raider Vin De Garde, who produced a very good performance himself, by three lengths, while the Marco Botti-trained Felix finished an excellent third.

It was an impressive reappearance by the 2020 Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner at Royal Ascot and Thady Gosden, who has just entered a training partnership with his father John, said: “We were always hoping he would run well as he was in brilliant form out here. But he definitely put that race to bed very well from pretty far back. We will take him home now and then maybe give him a break and target the race he won last year at Ascot.”

Dettori, who was recording his second victory in the race that he won last in 1997 with Tamayaz, was equally impressed with the performance of the 5-year-old, who won the race in 01:46:46.

He said: “It was a nice pace. I had plenty of horse and I know he stays really well. So I kicked early and he flew. I didn’t do much else after that, he did the rest.”

Owned by HH Sheikh Zayed bin Mohammed Racing, the 5-year-old made his debut in handicaps before graduating all the way up to Group 1 level and his jockey added: “He was a handful in the early days, so he got gelded and he is much more focussed now. He is a horse for all the good races this year. I’m sure the Gosdens will have a plan.”

Meydan’s commentator Craig Evans predicted a “crackerjack of a finish” as the runners turned for home in the US $5m Longines Dubai Sheema Classic and he certainly wasn’t wrong as Mishriff (IRE) came from the widest starting point and from behind the entire field to see off the challenge of the Japanese pair of Chrono Genesis and Loves Only You in a vintage renewal of the Group 1 race.

Mishriff, confidently ridden by 21-year-old David Egan, was completing a unique double by adding the showpiece 2410m event to the Saudi Cup he claimed last month and showed an admirable versatility on the Meydan turf for trainer John Gosden and his son Thady. 

Two necks separated the first three horses home as Mishriff showed great courage to oblige and Gosden added his name to the roll of honour for a third time following the 2010 victory of Dar Re Mi and the 2017 success of Jack Hobbs. The winning time was 2:26:65. 

The Prince Faisal-owned Mishriff’s quest for more big race honours will now turn to Europe for the summer, where he will attempt to add to his win in last year’s Prix du Jockey Club, while for the Gosden family, it was a memorable double on the night following Lord North’s Dubai Turf win. 

Mishriff’s jockey David Egan, a former champion apprentice in Britain, was unsurprisingly full of praise for his willing partner. Reflecting on the latest major win in his short career and looking to the future months Egan said: “This horse has brought me to the next level by winning the Saudi Cup and this is just the icing on the cake. After winning the mile and a half around here hopefully he will have an exciting summer campaign around Europe.

“He’s a champion. It was a strong battle inside the final two furlongs. I was just glad I was able to do my job and get him to settle and we know he’s got an immense turn of foot. He showed that in Riyadh. I thought he had to dig deep today in the final furlong. I thought he was going to curl up on me, but it just shows how good he is. Over 12 (furlongs), if he’s ridden with restraint and put in a rhythm, he could be deadly in Europe this year.”

Thady Gosden, who just this week joined his father John as a joint licence holder in Britain, said: “We thought before the race that if he was too ‘on it’ the whole way around, it wouldn’t be good to send him up there to get position and that would be for the worst. So David just dropped him in there, where he’s relaxed, and David just switched him off beautifully.

“He made his move when he had to around the bend and (David) gave him such a brilliant ride to get him to the line. He’s such a tough horse and he’s shown his versatility. He’s a brilliant horse and obviously really talented. Hats off to everyone at home. They do all the hard work and take care of these horses every day doing such a fantastic job.”

The post Dubai World Cup Undercard: Tragedy Amidst Winning Performances appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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