Godolphin’s Two Step Salsa , formerly based in the United States, broke sharply and made most of the pace en route to a comfortable victory in the $1-million Godolphin Mile (UAE-II) to kick off the Dubai World Cup program March 28 at Nad Al Sheba race course.
Godolphin also picked up second with Gayego, another runner previously based in the U.S. It was the first victory for Godolphin on World Cup day since 2006.
Frankie Dettori rode the winner, who prepped for the Godolphin Mile in a six-furlong allowance race on the dirt at Nad Al Sheba Feb. 20. Two Step Salsa easily won that event for his victory on dirt. The colt’s previous four wins had come on synthetic surfaces in California.
Two Step Salsa, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred by Petionville out of the Seattle Slew mare Two To Waltz, finished third in last year’s TVG Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita Park for trainer Julio Canani. Saeed bin Suroor now trains Two Step Salsa and Gayego, last year’s Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner.
Two Step Salsa took the early initiative in the 15-horse Godolphin Mile field and battled early with Cat Junior. He took control and opened up by about two lengths as the field straightened toward the finish, and maintained his advantage over Gayego, who rallied from off the pace but never seriously threatened Two Step Salsa.
"I was lucky that they allowed me a soft lead in front and nothing was snapping at my heels, but this is a good horse and he quickened up really well," Dettori said. "I hoped I was on the right one, and fortunately I was."
Two Step Salsa was favored in the North American wagering pool at 9-5, with Gayego a close second choice at 2-1. Don Renato, at 70-1, rallied well late to grab third in a blanket photo.
The winner paid $5.60 and capped a $17.60 exacta for $2. The final time for the mile on a track rated good was 1:36.82.
Soon after the race, Dettori said Two Step Salsa was able to relax early, which may have been the key to victory. “It’s a long straight, and I was running out of petrol, but he had enough to win the race,” the jockey said.
Suroor said Two Step Salsa and Gayego are both headed to Belmont Park in New York to prepare for the Metropolitan Mile (gr. I) on dirt.
With the victory in the Godolphin Mile, Two Step Salsa’s career earnings cleared the $1-million mark.