International News Wrap

6 min read

Godolphin reigns in Dubai

Coming off another top Saturday in Australia, it was more of the same for Godolphin in Dubai with Dream Castle (GB) (Frankel {GB}) leading the charge with a Group 1 victory in the Jebel Hatta Stakes. Godolphin won four of the seven races on the Super Saturday card in preparation for the Dubai World Cup races at the end of the month.

Filly Divine Image (USA) (Scat Daddy {USA}) kicked off the winning day in style when winning the Listed Al Bastakiya Sponsored By over colts by 7 ¼ lengths.

Godolphin's G1 King's Stand Stakes winner Blue Point (Ire) (Shamardal {USA}) looks the leading contender for the G1 Al Quoz Sprint after a dominant victory over the course and distance in the G3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint.

Old Persian (GB) (Dubawi {IRE}) made a solid case for his chances in the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup with a victory in the Group 2 Dubai City Of Gold on Saturday.

Dream Castle signed off the night for Godolphin with a win in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta, as a prep for the Group 1 Dubai Turf.

“The race went well for us. We had a nice pace. When I saw I was behind Wootton, I was very confident, because I knew he was going to take me quite far." Dream Castle’s jockey Christophe Soumillon said after the race. "When I asked him to go, he really quickened sharply. When I hit the front, he was looking around for a while. He’s a really different horse compared to last year, when he was a colt.”

"When I asked him to go, he really quickened sharply." - Jockey Christophe Soumillon

The surprise of the night came in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round Three Sponsored By Emirates Airline, when last year’s Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow (IRE) (Helmet) finished second. Making his return to the races after finishing third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, he was bested by Capezzano (USA) (Bernardini {USA}).

Thunder Snow’s trainer Saeed bin Suroor expected the horse wouldn’t be at his best and wasn’t disappointed with his horse’s first run back.

“He got tired, just like we said (he would) before the race. He will improve from the race and will be ready for World Cup night. He’ll be fine,” he said.

Wishful thinking for Dubai starts?

Connections of Australian-bred sprinter Wishful Thinker (I Am Invincible) are sweating on an invite to the G1 Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night after the 5-year-old won again at Sha Tin on Sunday.

The Richard Gibson-trained sprinter made it four wins from his last five starts with a comfortable win in the Flamingo Flower Handicap (Class 1).

Wishful Thinker usually races best from behind, but with just three rivals, jockey Silvestre de Sousa sat Wishful Thinker outside the lead and he was able to kick away from 2017 G2 Todman Stakes winner Gunnison (Not A Single Doubt) and G3 winner Jolly Banner (Lonhro).

Amber Sky (Exceed And Excel) was the last Hong Kong-trained horse to win the Al Quoz in 2014, when the race was still held over 1000m, it is now over 1200m.

Also waiting for word on an invite to the main event on Dubai World Cup night is Seoul-based Aussie trainer Simon Foster with his honest dirt tracker Dolkong (USA) (Afleet Alex {USA}).

Dolkong was third in the G1 Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan on Saturday behind Godolphin's Capezzano (USA) (Bernardini {USA}) and last year's G1 Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow (Ire) (Helmet).

Well-bred Tacitus on Derby trail for Juddmonte

Juddmonte Farms looks to have a serious Kentucky Derby horse on their hands after Tacitus (USA) (Tapit {USA}) annexed the Group 2 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby in his first start of the year. The victory in Florida on Saturday provided him with 50 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby in his Derby prep debut. Malibu Moon’s Outshine (USA) attempted to make a run for the win late but finished second with Win Win Win (USA) (Hat Trick {JPN}) third.

“We’ve always liked this horse and thought he could be a horse that would be on the Derby trail." - Trainer Bill Mott

“We’ve always liked this horse and thought he could be a horse that would be on the Derby trail,” trainer Bill Mott told Thoroughbred Daily News. “I liked him a lot better today at the 3/8ths pole than I did at the 5/8ths pole, because it looked like when he was trying to get between horses, I couldn’t tell if he was maybe fighting with the racetrack. He was climbing a little bit, but once he got through between those horses, he really got some confidence and got some momentum.”

The regally bred colt is from Mott and Juddmonte’s 2014 Eclipse Award Champion Older Mare Close Hatches, who has a 2-year-old Malibu Moon filly named Atheer. The mare produced a full brother to this colt in 2018 and had a colt by Curlin (USA) (Smart Strike {USA}) earlier this year.

Late surge sees Haikal join Derby challengers

It was a day for new Kentucky Derby contenders on Saturday in the United States when Haikal (USA) (Daaher {USA}) won the Group 3 Gotham Stakes to earn his first 50 points on the Kentucky Derby trail.

The Shadwell Farm homebred left victory until the last second, making a run from the back of the field to catch a battling trio with less than 50 metres left and announce himself on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Mind Control (Stay Thirsty) finished second by a length with race favourite Instagrand (Into Mischief) in third.

“I felt like he was full of run, and I felt like we kind of had them measured. I just hoped he'd continue his run and not ease up, and he continued running, so it worked out good. It wasn't that close at the end,” jockey Rajiv Maragh said.

The second group winner for his sire, Haikal is a half-brother to Group 1 winner Takaful (USA) (Bernardini {USA}). His third dam is two-time Group 1 winner Shadayid (USA) (Shadeed {USA}), who is the dam or granddam of seven stakes winners.

Santa Anita reopening

On a day that was supposed to be a headliner for Santa Anita with their first major card of the year, The Stronach Group’s COO told Thoroughbred Daily News the track is scheduled to resume racing on March 22.

The track was closed earlier this week due to a rash of breakdowns that led to concerns about the track’s surface. That led to the cancelation of a card that included the Group 1 Santa Anita Handicap and the Group 2 San Felipe Stakes. The track is planning on moving the Santa Anita Handicap to the April 6 Group 1 Santa Anita Derby card while the San Felipe Stakes will be cancelled this year.

While racing will not resume until later this month, training on the main track will open on Monday.