Kinsale King, smartly ridden by Garrett Gomez, reclaimed the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) for America when he held off the fast-closing favorite Rocket Man at Meydan Racecourse March 27 on World Cup night.
Rating just off the pacesetting Laurel Guerreiro of Japan, Kinsale King seized the lead at the top of the stretch and edged away to a solid lead. As Rocket Man closed in on the grandstand side, the dark bay gelding held on under urging from Gomez, who couldn't wait to reach the finish line as Rocket Man drew closer. Kinsale King won the Gulg News-sponsored event by a half-length on the Tapeta racing surface.
The victory was the first in the World Cup carnival for Irish trainer Carl O'Callaghan, who only recently opened a public stable in Southern California. O'Callaghan trains Kinsale King for Super Horse. The Kentucky-bred 5-year-old son of Yankee Victor--Flaming Mirage, by Woodman, won his fourth consecutive race in the 1,200-meter furlong Golden Shaheen. The final time was 1:10.85.
U.S. connections have now won nine of the past 11 renewals of the Golden Shaheen, reclaiming the crown after Big City Man won it last year for Saud Al Kabeer and trainer Jerry Barton.
O'Callaghan made his group I debut in the Golden Shaheen. The 34-year-old conditioner jumped up and down while pumping his fists and bellowing to the crowd at Meydan after Kinsale King crossed the finish line in front.
"I call it the Irish river dance in Dubai," he told HRTV.
Later, he said, “This is what I want to do with my life and hopefully this proves that I can train and that it opens up a few more doors for me."
Commenting on Kinsale King, he continued: “He’s a great horse. He’s got a lot of heart, he’s a grinder and he just keeps going. His preparation went well. We took him to Golden Gate (Fields) to work him on the Tapeta surface there and he went well and he traveled over here well. There was never one hitch.”
“It was wonderful," Gomez said. "I just wanted to get involved in the race early and once he got involved, he traveled well the whole way and in the last 400 meters, he stayed on well. He ran a wonderful race.”
The Australian-bred One World finished third, 1 1/2 lengths behind the runner-up. Failing to make an impact was grade I winner Gayego, the second choice in the field of 10 who finished eighth.
Marvin Little Jr. bred Kinsale King.
O'Callaghan has not lost with Kinsale King since taking over conditioning last year for Eoin Harty. Kinsale King won the Palos Verdes Handicap (gr. II) in his most recent start at Santa Anita Jan. 23.
Kinsale King went off at odds of 7-1 (9-2 in the U.S. pool) while recording his fifth win in eight races, all coming on synthetic tracks.
A date at the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot now beckons for Kinsale King where he may tackle Hong Kong sprinter Joy And Fun, winner of the Al Quoz Sprint (UAE-III)earlier on the program.
“I knew I had it won when I put the saddle on him," O'Callaghan said. "I wasn’t too worried about who else was in the race, but it was just amazing. Leave it to the Irishman. He’s a great horse, has a lot of heart. I don’t need to do a whole lot with him. I just give him his eggs and his Guinness, and let him go.”
Aussie-bred Rocket Man was favored at 7-4 off a 4 1/2-length conditions race win in Singapore Feb. 7. The grade I winner in Singapore lost for just the second time in 10 starts, overcoming a slow start to nearly catch the winner.
Larel Guerreiro finished fourth, followed by Eagle Falls, Benbaun, Mutheeb, Gayego, Force Freeze and Regal Parade.