Godolphin won its 9th Dubai World Cup when its American-based raider Mystic Guide (USA) proved himself a champion at Meydan on Saturday night when capturing the 25th edition of the $12 million race. The 4-year-old son of Ghostzapper, winner of the Razorback Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park in his previous race, was veteran trainer Mike Stidham’s first-ever overseas runner when lining up in the 2000m showpiece.
The showcase evening of racing in Dubai was marred by the breakdown of the American colt Zenden, a son of Alberta stallion Fed Biz, who streaked to a track record-setting win in the Golden Shaheen (G1) only to suffered a compound fracture just past the finish line. The 5-year-old horse owned by LLP Performance Horse LLC and trained by Carlos David, was euthanized on the track. It was the horse’s 6th win in 15 races and he was a 50-to-1 longshot, having just won the Pelican Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs by a head on Feb. 13.
Zenden began his career for Pichi Investments and trainer Victor Barboza after being purchased in 2018 for $47,000 at the June 2-year-old sale in Ocala. He won the Buffalo Man Stakes at Gulfstream in Feb. 2019. He missed time from April of that year to November, returning to the races with trainer Todd Pletcher and owner LLP Performance Horse. He raced 4 times for Pletcher but again missed time from Feb. 2020 to October and then joined the stable of David, a former assistant to trainer Jason Servis, who was indicted a year ago for drug use in horses.
For David, Zenden won an optional claiming race in October at Laurel, was 9th and 12th in stakes races, and then second at Tampa Bay in an optional claimer before his gritty Pelican win. Zenden was bred by Brent and Beth Harris in Kentucky.
In the World Cup, which was delayed when two horses got loose pre-race, Mystic Guide and jockey Luis Saez tracked front-runner Hypothetical before taking the lead 400m from home and forging clear to win in 2:01.61 for 10 furlongs.
Japanese raider Chuwa Wizard stayed on to take second, three and three-quarter lengths behind the winner, with Godolphin’s French-based representative Magny Cours running on into third, another length and a quarter further back.
Saez said, “Our plan worked out. To break well, get a position and then I knew he would give me that kick at the top of the straight – and he did. I didn’t want to be too far back and I just asked him turning for home and he kicked. The plan worked out perfectly. He’s a young horse and last time I rode him I knew he was a Group 1 winner.
“Today he proved he is a champion and I know he is going to get better and better. What a nice horse, he has all the ability. It’s an honour for me. This was my dream as a little kid and I can’t believe I’m here now. It’s a dream come true.”
For Stidham, who saddled his first winner in 1980, it was the pinnacle of his training career.
“I am so happy to be here and the horse performed to his capability. It’s a beautiful thing. He was getting antsy in the parade ring and then with a loose horse it made it more difficult, then we had to load a couple times. It was a little scary at the start but he stayed relaxed.
“All that added to the concerns. He gets a little tough and doesn’t like being restrained a lot. I saddled him outside the stall because he was getting a little antsy in the stall. With all of that that went on, I was really concerned, like I said, but he overcame it.
“I got a good feeling when I saw him lying in third on the backside then down the lane it was amazing. I’m so proud to be here on the 25th anniversary of the Dubai World Cup for Sheikh Mohammed and the sky’s the limit for this horse. We’d love to come back next year; I’ll know the lay of the land better then!”
Mystic Guide is from the A.P. Indy mare Music Note, a Grade 1 winner of the Mother Goose, Beldame, CCA Oaks, etc. and he is one of 5 starters for the mare. The colt has 4 wins in 8 races and earnings now of $7.5 million.
Among the other winners on the night was American 8-year-old sprinter EXTRAVAGANT KID who won the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on the turf. 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.
Extravagant Kid is a well-traveled gelding who is well-known to Woodbine fans. He has been to the Toronto track three times for stakes and been second each time, all to champion Pink Lloyd.
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?”
The remarkable horse MISHRIFF, fresh off a win in the Saudi Cup on dirt, won the Dubai Sheema Classic at 12 furlongs on the grass, taking the race by a neck to boost his earnings to over $13 million. John Gosden trainers for Prince Faisal.
Canadian-bred CHANNEL MAKER faded to 8th.
Rebel’s Romance (IRE) realized 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.
~with files from Dubai Racing Club