2012 Dubai World Cup Day - Eishin Flash best of World Cup trio
Sixth-place finish tops for Japan team of seven at Meydan
Meydan Racecourse © Sam D'Agostino
A Shin Virgo
Japan’s victory in the Dubai World Cup last year will long be remembered as not only an emotional boost to the disaster-ravaged nation but also as a symbol of the hope and sympathy felt toward the Japanese the world over. The one-two finish alone, however, would have a difficult performance to beat by any size team. Unfortunately, this year’s trio in the World Cup March 31 had to settle for far less on a day that saw tragedy strike at Meydan itself.
If it could be any comfort, it would be that Japan’s seven horses participating in five races on Saturday turned in their best performance – a sixth-place finish by Eishin Flash – in the $10-millilon Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1), the most prestigious race on the day’s card at Meydan Racecourse.
The win of the World Cup went to two Dubai-based, Godolphin-owned horses on a day dominated by the locals. Monterosso, with Mickael Barzalona up, went from mid-division and moved steadily up with 500 meters to go, caught Capponi at 300 meters out and won comfortably by 3 lengths. It was such a comfortable win that jockey Barzalona was standing up in the stirrups waving his whip and pumping his fist with excitement from 20 meters before the finish line, so surprised was he not to see anyone close. Runnerup Capponi was followed half a length later by another local runner, Planteur, in third.
Of Japan’s three runners in the World Cup, it was 2011 runnerup Transcend that first flashed to the front of the 13-strong field, but he was caught with 800 meters to go and faded to last. Smart Falcon, who had been the most favored of the three, settled toward the rear from the break, was never near the challenge and finished in 10th place. Eishin Flash settled toward the back as well, and though he failed to get in on the bid for the top, did manage to run on well over the final 300. Christophe Lemaire, riding Eishin Flash, said, “He was agitated in the gate and didn’t break well. I was able to move him along well, but when we turned for the straight, we were still a bit too far back.”
Trainer Hideaki Fujiwara noted, “The horse on his outside was jumping around and it made him nervous,” he said of Eishin Flash. “We’d wanted to get into about third or fourth position but he lost about 3 lengths coming out of the gate. He was in good shape and we lost it just because of a small thing,” Fujiwara said with disappointment. “The horse held on well. He really ran his heart out.”
Shinji Fujita on Transcend said the pressure had been on them from the start. “They were coming at us from both sides. It’s because of who he is that they pressured him and I thought he could handle it, but when he took the lead, he couldn’t stay steady and wouldn’t settle onto the bit. Even so, he just didn’t have anything there. For a horse for which there were such high expectations, it’s a little too bad a result.”
Trainer Takayuki Yasuda was a bit more forgiving. “The pace was very high. When he took the lead I was like, ‘Oh, yes!’ but then he couldn’t hold on. It was an unfortunate race.”
Yutaka Take, in his fifth World Cup bid, was dreaming of his first win, but “when he left the gate, (Smart Falcon) slipped on his second step and tripped. That did it. Unable to run the way he wanted to, he couldn’t get into a nice rhythm,” Take explained. “He lost his cool in the gate and then charged out. I don’t know if it’s because he left the gate too quickly or what, but from the results, you’d have to say that it was a failed race. “
Take added philosophically, “It’s made me think once again that you just never know what can happen in racing.” Trainer Ken Kozaki agreed. “He ran the race I least expected him to run. He was loaded last and up to that point everything was perfect. But then he slipped coming out and couldn’t run the kind of race he likes. You just can’t get what you want. That’s racing.”
Monterosso is a son of Irish classic winner, the Dubai Millennium-sired Dubawi. Trained by Mahmoud Al Zarooni, Monterosso had been off for nearly a full year after last year’s Dubai World Cup before returning March 10 for a fourth in the Al Maktoum Challenge-Round 3 Sponsored by Emirates (UAE-G1). His final time in the World Cup was 2:02.67.
The day’s lineup of graded races started off with an accident-marred Dubai Gold Cup (UAE-G3) that took the lives of two horses. One lap into the 3,200-meter race, the Godolphin runner Fox Hunt fell and lay immobile, with the rest of the field still having to run past the same point a second time. The race was stopped and run again after the World Cup, the last race of the day. In the rerun, Grand Vent, another Godolophin runner was stopped with an injury and a couple hundred meters later, Bronze Cannon was pulled up. Both Fox Hunt and Bronze Cannon were euthanized on the track.
The second race was won by race favorite Opinion Poll, 6-year-old son of Halling, by 3/4 length. Opinion Poll, paired with Lanfranco Dettori, beat out Joshua Tree, with Zansamar in third. The turf race was run in 3 minutes 23.7 seconds.
Japan’s Makani Bisty, took the lead in both starts, but when the pace quickened going into the final turn, he faded to finish last of the ravaged field that saw 10 of the original 13 runners complete the race.
Jockey Futoshi Komaki said, “When the pace picked up, he just couldn’t keep up. I guess he was just tired, and after he passed the finish line he stopped right away.” Trainer Yoshito Yahagi took the loss as best anyone could. “We had to race twice but every horse had to do the same so I can’t use that as an excuse for losing. Both times he took the lead and I think this took a lot out of him mentally as well. He doesn’t like to race much as a rule so I’m glad he finished safely.”
Japan horses fared worse in the next two races of the day, the UAE Derby and the Al Quoz Sprint. Genten finished 14th in the Derby, won by Irish-trained Daddy Long Legs and jockey Colm O’Donoghue. A Shin Virgo failed to challenge and finished 12th out of 15 runners in the G1 Sprint, won by the Australian mare Ortensia, with Craig Williams up.
“She started well,” said A Shin Virgo rider Yuichi Fukunaga, “but she faded quickly and had nothing left at the end.” Trainer Kozaki remained optimistic, saying, “They let us load her ahead of the others and I don’t think the going was a problem. She was getting better and better condition-wise and had weathered the trip well. But, the most important thing is that she made it through OK. She’s good in the warm weather, so I think she’ll do well next time out.”
The 6-year-old Ortensia pulled away in impressive fashion, and beat out 2010 winner Sole Power by 1 1/4 lengths. Joy and Fun finished 1/4 length behind in third. The race was run in a near-record :57.98 for 1,000 meters.
In the G2 UAE Derby, Craig Williams had the ride aboard Genten, who was never better than mid-division. “He kept up with the pace, but the distance was too much for him. I think too that he was uncertain about the track,” Williams said of Genten’s first time over the artificial surface of the 1,900-meter race. Trainer Yahagi accepted that his horse was outclassed. “It was a strong lineup and we just didn’t have enough. He started well and I’d hoped he could get a good position, but the distance was too much. Let’s home we can use this experience to our benefit for next time.”
The UAE Derby saw Daddy Long Legs at the wire 1 1/4 lengths over Yang Tse Kiang, with Wrote three-quarters of a length farther back in third. Final time was 1:58.35.
Hopeful in the G1, 1,800-meter turf Dubai Duty Free Dark Shadow turned in Japan’s second best result of the day, a ninth-place finish out of 15 runners. The Duty Free was won by the Great Britain-trained Cityscape. “We had a gate boy for him and that helped to calm him,” said Fukunaga, who also had the ride with Dark Shadow. “We were able to get a good position, but he wasn’t able to quicken. Into the straight, he didn’t have much left. He’s usually more consistent than this, so I think the change in environment affected him.”
Winner Cityscape, ridden by James Doyle, coasted to an official 4 1/4-length victory over Mutahadee. American-bred City Style took a fast-closing third. The final time of 1:48.65 represented a new course record time for the 1,800 meters at Meydan.
* Please visit the following websites for more information.
Dubai World Cup: http://www.dubairacingclub.com/dubai-world-cup
Dubai Racing Club: http://www.dubairacingclub.com/
Emirates Racing Authority: http://www.emiratesracing.com/