Friday, February 24, 2017
The group 3 U.A.E. Oaks Sponsored by Al Naboodah-Ashok Leyland and the Nad Al Sheba Trophy Sponsored by Al Naboodah VDL Buses highlighted racing at Meydan in the United Arab Emirates Feb. 23.
Nine 3-year-old fillies passed the entry box for the U.A.E. Oaks contested over 1,900 dirt-track meters (about 9 1/2 furlongs), but only eight lined up in the starting gate.
Absent from the fray was Nashmiah, winner of the Feb. 9 UAE 1,000 Guineas Sponsored by Al Tayer Motors. A respiratory disorder kept the undefeated Saudi Arabian-bred daughter of Alnajim Althakeb (a son of Unbridled's Song) in the barn.
Nonetheless, the Guineas runner-up, Buti Bintooq Almarri's Nomorerichblondes, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Hard Spun , reprised her Guineas form and posted a 1 1/2-length victory in 2:01.85, well off Mizbah's track record set in January (cover photo).
When the gates opened, Rajar went to the lead with Normorerichblondes and jockey Antonio Fresu stalking the pace as the field raced down the backside. After 600 meters Fresu tapped the gas pedal and his dark bay charge took the lead, racing well within herself.
Complimenti challenged briefly in the stretch, but the leader repelled her foe and held off the fast-closing Midnight Chica (Midnight Lute ). Complimenti (Congrats ) finished third to give Kentucky-breds the Oaks trifecta.
Trained by Ahmad bin Harmash, Nomorerichblondes improved her record to three wins from six starts with earnings of $227,758.
Blue Devil Racing bred Nomorerichblondes out of the stakes-placed Unbridled's Song mare Miss Luann, a $375,000 Blue Devil yearling purchase at the 2007 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale. Miss Luann is also the dam of stakes winner Sharp Kitty (Kitten's Joy).
Darley's 13-year-old Kentucky-based stallion Hard Spun also sired Godolphin's 3-year-old colt Top Score, who took the listed Meydan Classic Sponsored by Al Naboodah Goodyear.
Bred in Great Britain, Top Score, trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by Adrie de Vries, sped up the rail, angled out as the field fanned out in the stretch, and caught his pacesetting Godolphin teammate Fly At Dawn (Discreet Cat) to win by a half-length. Fellow Godolphin-blue runner Really Special (Shamardal), one of three fillies in the field, completed the Godolphin trifecta.
A homebred, Top Score was produced from Windsor County, an unraced full sister to Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Raven's Pass, who also won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G1).
Co-feature of the Meydan card, the Nad Al Sheba Trophy, raced over 2,810 turf meters (about 1 3/4 miles). The race attracted a field of nine distance specialists, including one mare, Godolphin's 5-year-old Beautiful Romance.
A world traveler, Beautiful Romance has now won group races on three continents. In England she took the Betfred Middleton Stakes (G2); in Australia, the Quayclean Zipping Classic (G2).
With a passel of group marathon wins on his resume, the Aga Khan's Vazirabad, a 5-year-old son of Manduro, looked to be the one to wear the winner's laurels.
As is usual in long-distance events, the real running didn't begin until the final furlongs. Three furlongs from the finish, the pacesetting Los Barbados began to shorten stride as the stalkers prepared to pounce. Displaying a quick turn of foot, the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Beautiful Romance with Oisin Murphy in control displayed a sharp turn of foot to separate herself from the others.
Although pressed by Vazirabad in the final furlong, the daughter of New Approach held him at bay by 1 1/2 lengths at the wire. Sheikzayedroad finished third.
Rabbah Bloodstock bred Beautiful Romance in Great Britain from the group 3-winning Cape Cross mare Mazuna.
The final stakes on the Meydan card, heralded the 2017 debut of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum's Mubtaahij (Dubawi). A group 2 winner and earner of more than $3.8 million, Mubtaahij spent some quality time in the U.S., where he knocked on a lot of grade 1 doors without admittance.
The listed Curlin Handicap Sponsored by Al Naboodah SUNWIN Buses wasn't any kinder. Trained and ridden by the familiar pair of Mike de Kock and Christophe Soumillon, Mubtaahij put in a valiant effort down the middle of the stretch in the run to the wire, but Etijaah, a homebred for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, slipped through an open rail and scampered to the wire 2 1/2 lengths to the good of Mubtaahij. Kentucky-bred Alabaster (Medaglia d'Oro), representing the Godolphin interests, finished third.
Foaled at Shadwell's Kentucky division, Etijaah is a 7-year-old son of Daaher (Awesome Again) and the winning Darshaan mare Hasheema.