Dubai World Cup day races - Buena Vista finishes 2nd in the Dubai Sheema Classic
Buena Vista (number 10) finishes 2nd in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1)
©Andrew Watkins / Dubai Racing Club
Japan went home without a victory for the third year in a row following the Dubai World Cup gala Saturday, March 27, at Meydan Racecourse. Though there was no victory for Japan, an impressive runnerup performance by Buena Vista in the Dubai Sheema Classic brought accolades from around the world. In addition, two fourth-place finishes by Japan runners Laurel Guerreiro and Glorious Noah in the Dubai Golden Shaheen sprint and Godolphin Mile, respectively, also gave ample reason for the Japan team to hold its held high.
The disappointment of Buena Vista narrowly missing out on a win was surely not as great as the disappointment felt by connections and fans of Dubai World Cup hopeful, Red Desire, who took on the world’s richest Thoroughbred race, the $10-million Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1), following her stellar run in the Al Maktoum Challenge III earlier in the month. A lackluster performance in the World Cup, however, saw her end the race in 11th place and unable to ever come closer to the lead than mid-division. The result left heads shaking in wonder as to the cause of her inability to display her usual and consistently winning form.
French rider Christophe Soumillon, aboard Red Desire for the first time, did not hold the horse to her usual rearward position, but hustled her forward about five horses off the front and held that position to the stretch. With 200 meters to go, Red Desire sharply lost acceleration and faded quickly. The race was won in a photo finish, with Group 1 winner and last year's World Cup runnerup Gloria De Campeao beating out South Africa-bred Lizard's Desire by a nose.
Sandwiched between the two was Allybar in third place. There was a moment of confusion when Lizard's Desire's rider Kevin Shea was congratulated by another rider, leading him to mistakenly believe he had won the race. His joy was short-lived as the winning horse, with Tiago Pereira up, was announced. The difference between first and second place, though miniscule in distance, meant a difference of $4 million in prize money.
Gloria De Campeao covered the 2,000 meters of synthetic Tapeta surface in a time of 2:03.83. Trained by Pascal Bary for owner Estrela Energia Stables, Gloria De Campeao improved to nine wins in 24 starts and boosted earnings to nearly $9 million, making him the fourth on the list of all-time leading North American-raced earners.
Searching to explain Red Desire’s flat run, Soumillon said, "She may have been a bit excited, “At the top of the straight, when it was time to rev the engine, she just couldn't give anything more when the other horses came up.
“I really can't say what was the problem, especially seeing how she was beaten by horses whom she had beaten in her last race," Soumillon said puzzled. "It's a shame that this was the result, especially to for the stable staff who worked so hard to get her ready for the race," the Frenchman said diplomatically.
Trainer Mikio Matsunaga was at a loss as well as to what caused her poor showing. "This time out the pace was slow just like last time. But unlike last time, she wasn't able to find her rhythm." he said.
"She tensed up and maybe that's why she didn't have anything left for the finish. She looked fine after the race," he added, "I'll have to think about where and when we'll aim her next."
As thrilling as the World Cup was disappointing was the Dubai Sheema Classic, in which another Japan outstanding filly Buena Vista pushed down the straight fighting to the finish and managed to catch all by winner Dar Re Mi, who beat her to the wire by 3/4 length.
It was her first start since finishing third in the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) on Nov. 7 at Santa Anita Park’s Oak Tree, and Dar Re Mi was obviously no worse for the time off. The 5-year-old Singspiel mare covered the 2,410 meters in a time of 2:31.84 on turf rated good and gave trainer John Gosden his first Dubai stakes win.
Buena Vista held off Spanish Moon by a head and multiple group stakes winner Deem closed well to finish fourth. Eastern Anthem, winner of last year’s Sheema Classic, and three-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runnerup Youmzain finished sixth and eighth, respectively.
Riding Buena Vista was French jockey Olivier Peslier, who was paired with the filly for the first time. "She felt really good when I was on her in the preparade ring. At the turn home I knew the other horses would move out so I waited a bit and took her inside," he said. "At the finish, I thought she could catch them but the winner gained even more ground. I think that she should go for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe from here," Peslier added in a stamp of approval for the obviously incredibly capable Buena Vista.
Her trainer, Hiroyoshi Matsuda, couldn't hide his disappointment. "If she was able to get that far, I think she could have made it, but this is enough," he said. "The pace was a bit slow, but she really drove on in the end so I must say I'm satisfied." Matsuda said he had instructed Peslier to just relax and give her her cues. "We lost, but to all the fans who cheered us on, may we continue to have your support from here on as well."
Fine runs by Japan's other two runners, Laurel Guerreiro in the Dubai Golden Shaheen and Glorious Noah in the Godolphin Mile, helped to keep the spirits of Japan’s racing fans from sinking too low despite the World Cup let-down.
The $1-million Etisalat Godolphin Mile, the third race on the day's card at Meydan, was captured by UAE-runner Calming Influence, piloted by jockey Ahmed Ajtebi to a 1-length victory. Le Drakkar and Calming Influence dueled for the lead through much of the trip before the 5-year-old Calming Influence moved ahead to cover the 1,600 meters in 1:36.57.
Moshin Al Tajir’s multiple group stakes-placed winner Green Coast finished in second, a length in front of Godolphin’s Skysurfers. Godolphin’s Grade 2 winner, the highly touted Desert Party finished 11th of 14 under Lanfranco Dettori.
Glorious Noah held her ground well to finish in fourth-place 3 1/2 lengths off the winner in a run that prompted lavish praise from Japanese rider Shinichiro Kobayashi. "Even though it was his first time to race here, he ran boldly and with confidence," Kobayashi said. "Even when the horses came up and overtook him on the outside, it didn't shake him. And even with that, he was able to gain ground in the end. It's a sign of just how good this horse is," he continued. "I've been impressed with Dubai and glad I could come here. I really had a good time."
"The jockey did a really good job riding the horse," trainer Yoshito Yahagi said of Kobayashi. "Putting the horse into the thick of things really brings out his competitive spirit and the best in him. I asked the jockey to do that. "We didn't come here just for the experience," Yahagi said, "and I think we've gained something for having taken on the challenge. It's a shame we couldn't have won, but I think as trainer I can be proud of our fourth-place finish."
In the Dubai Golden Shaheen sprint, the fifth race of the day, Japan's Laurel Guerreiro failed to show his usual smart start, but otherwise took to the all-weather track with apparent ease. He headed out for a good 500-meter lead, but weakened in the final furlong to finish in fourth place 4 lengths off the winner.
California-based sprinter Kinsale King, ridden by Garrett Gomez, bested the field of 10 and Singapore's Rocket Man came home in second place half a length later. Hong Kong-based One World finished third, two lengths behind Rocket Man. The highly favored Gayego never threatened and finished eighth in the 10-horse field.
Shinji Fujita, who has been paired with Laurel Guerreiro in Hong Kong as well as Japan, said he felt a bit of change in the horse in its recent starts. "Taking the lead with ease and holding the others off as best he can is what this horse has excelled at. But recently, I think he's been a bit sluggish in the start. As far as the all-weather track went, I think it suited him well," Fujita said of Laurel Guerreiro. "It's a shame he couldn't show us his best, but I was happy to hear the shouts from the Japanese fans rooting us on," Fujita said.
"The horse was in excellent condition," trainer Mitsugu Kon said. "Perhaps because it was a night race, he may have been a bit hesitant and unsure of himself at the start. Going into the straight he was caught by the winner but managed to hold on very well after that. I think he was able to run his own race. To finish fourth is a bit of a shame, but he really gave it his best."
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