Dawn Approach made it six out of six when registering a comfortable 2 3/4-length success in Saturday's Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes. Partnered by Kevin Manning, the 3-10 favorite briefly looked as if he may be in trouble, but showed a devastating turn of foot in the final furlong to push aside stablemate Leitir Mor.
For trainer Jim Bolger, this was his fifth success in seven years in the prestigious seven-furlong event following the victories of Teofilo (2006), Dawn Approach's sire New Approach (2007), Intense Focus (2008) and Parish Hall (2011).
"I am just wondering what happened the other two years!" Bolger quipped.
"There were no real anxious moments today," the trainer recapped. "He just has a lazy style of racing. Once Kevin wound him up, there were never any concerns."
"It was a proper run race," Manning said, "and, two down, he just always hits his flat spot for a couple of strides until he gets into top gear. I know the horse and I knew that there was plenty there. Once he hit the rising ground, he has really gone away.
"He is very, very straightforward. You can drop him in or do anything you like with him because he got a great cruising speed and he picks up -- he ticks all of the boxes.
"He is much easier to deal with than his father. New Approach used to get ponied to the start and there was always a little temperament about him, where as this horse is much more straightforward.
"It's been a long year but Dawn Approach has kept progressing," Manning added. "He is strengthening up all of the time and I think that he is improving all of the time."
After Dawn Approach's victory in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, he was sold to Godolphin, and captured the Group 1 National Stakes in his debut in the royal blue silks. He will remain with Bolger for his classic campaign.
"He stays with Jim Bolger and that is Sheikh Mohammed's decision," Godolphin Racing Manager Simon Crisford said. "He won't run again this year and goes back to Ireland.
"He will be prepared for the (Group 1 Two Thousand) Guineas (May 4). Kevin Manning feels the horse will get further than a mile, and he could be aimed at the major 10-furlong summer race next years, but the Guineas is the initial plan."
"I was impressed with Dawn Approach when he won his maiden," Godolphin's founder and driving force Sheikh Mohammed said, "and I thought that he was a good horse. I could have been wrong -- I could have bought a bad horse -- but, thank God, we were lucky.
"Good horses always find something and Insha'Allah he will be back for the Guineas. I think that he will get a mile or a mile and a quarter, but I don't know if he is a (Group 1 Epsom) Derby horse yet. I think the trainer will see."
Bolger's on the same page about opening Dawn Approach's campaign at a mile.
"Kevin says he will get further, but I think he we start off over a mile next year and take it from there," Bolger said.
Later Saturday, Bolger sent out his 2013 Derby contender, Trading Leather, who justified expectations when winning the Group 3 Autumn Stakes by three-quarters of a length from Montiridge.
In his debut, the two-year-old Teofilo colt had been runner-up in a listed event to the well-regarded Battle of Marengo, and then romped by seven lengths in a mile maiden at Gowran Park on his second outing.
"I have been liking him for a long time but he is very much a ground-dependent horse who wants good ground and we haven't had it all year," said Bolger, who also bred and trained the colt's sire.
"The first chance I had to run him was at Leopardstown so we were happy to let him start. The next chance for him was in his maiden.
"We will see how he comes out of this, but he is in the Racing Post Trophy (Group 1 on October 27 at Doncaster) but we will have to see what the ground is like there."
Asked if this was his Derby horse, Bolger replied: "Yes."
In the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes at six furlongs, Reckless Abandon held off the challenge of his main rival Moohaajim by a neck to remain perfect from five starts. The two-year-old colt by Exchange Rate made virtually all after switching across to the stands' rails under Gerald Mosse. Moohaajim came alongside and may even have hit the front for a moment, but the winner battled back very well.
"We had the chance to reach the lead without too much pressure," Mosse said, "and then I tried not to make it a French race in front (by dawdling) but to give the horse a chance. I wanted to make sure that he relaxed in himself.
"When they started to come at the two-furlong (pole), he just started to pick up quite well. They came to the same line as me and he kept fighting. When I started to press him a bit hard, he answered.
"I love riding him because every time I ride him, we win," added Mosse, who was also aboard for his scores in the Group 1 Prix Morny and Group 2 Prix Robert Papin. "He just kept finding for me today.
"As an experienced jockey, I've been fortunate to ride some great horses including Arazi, Linamix and this horse -- there are not many like him. He is not the biggest horse but has a big heart. He moves well and knows how to use himself. He is a playful horse and has lots of energy.
"I was thinking that he was a jump horse going down to the start because he nearly jumped a fence (rail)! He's not bad, he just wants to play."
The Two Thousand Guineas could be a target for Reckless Abandon, but connections will consider what to do over the winter.
"I think we will digest whether he is a sprinter or a miler a bit further before we comment," trainer Clive Cox said. "I am really pleased from a bad draw that he used a bit early to get over to the rail. From the dip, I was a little bit concerned where he went from there and he clearly showed a great attitude and battled well. For me, he was gaining on the line. We will see.
"He can be quirky and all credit to my whole team for encouraging his progress and development -- it is just the way he is. It is the racing performance we are after.
"I am still shaking at the way he has done that there," Cox added of his determined front-running effort.
The Middle Park was a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint, but the six-furlong dash on dirt isn't in the cards.
"I would suggest that is it for the year -- there is nowhere else to go," Cox said.
Owners Julie Deadman and Stephen Barrow sold Reckless Abandon to Darley Stud for an undisclosed sum after his victory in the Morny. Sheikh Mohammed's firm allowed them to lease the horse for the remainder of 2012 as well as for his three-year-old year.
Moohaajim's connections were not downcast, especially in view of his performance on unsuitable ground.
"I was a little bit worried by the ground, despite it drying out," trainer Marco Botti said. "It is still on the soft side of good. When Moohaajim jumped out for the first couple of furlongs I thought he wasn't really handling the ground and wasn't traveling as strongly as he usually does. Adam (Kirby, jockey) said he let him find his feet and then he let him take his chance but the winner found a little bit more.
"I am sure he will get further in the future. I think the Two Thousand Guineas has to be considered -- why not? He has the pedigree to be a better three-year-old and I think he will definitely get a mile and there is still improvement to come in him."
Adam Kirby, who turned down the chance to ride Reckless Abandon, still has faith in Moohaajim.
"I am not upset at all -- I am delighted for Reckless Abandon and for his owners and trainer," Kirby said. "My horse was never really going on the ground, he was always out of his comfort zone, which is very unlike him.
"I just had to wait for him to come good and when I asked him to finish, I thought I had Reckless (Abandon) beat. We had a little battle, but my horse didn't show today what he can do."