Frankie Dettori and the Eddie Kenneally trained Kelly’s Landing proved a potent pairing in the $2 million Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) as America won the six-furlong dirt race for the sixth time in seven years.
Tracking compatriot Bishop Court Hill, Dettori was able to take his mount to the far rail at halfway and the pair hit the front with two furlongs left. They never looked likely to be caught afterwards and they held off the challenge of Todd Pletcher’s Friendly Island, with local hope Salaam Dubai running on in third.
Winning for the ninth time on his 21st start, the 6-year-old gelded son of Patton is one of the biggest horses to have run in the UAE. Kenneally said: “It is a shame the owner (John Lally) is not here but I know he is watching on television. The horse will be given a break now and hopefully there is more to come.”
Dettori added: “That is one of the biggest horses I have ridden – more like a chaser than a flat horse. I watched plenty of videos of the horse and was very hopeful. The trainer said to aim for the rail and I knew two furlongs out I had won, though he was tiring close home.
“American horses always handle the straight," Dettori said. "What a ride he gave me."
It was a first win in the race for the Italian in a race where many of the fancied runners, especially South African Champion Sprinter National Colour and Nightmare Affair, the two drawn widest of all, were never able to land a blow. In fact, of those drawn high, only Harvard Avenue, who was fourth, managed a top six placing.
He was followed home by early pacesetter Bishop Court Hill, himself a place ahead of Thor’s Echo, with Terrific Challenge, a track record holder at Monmouth Park, seventh.
“He was making up ground on the winner," said Garrett Gomez, who rode the runner-up Friendly Island. "My horse missed the break a little bit. He is not used to not having anybody in the gate with him. So overall he ran a really good race.”
The Kentucky-bred Kelly's Landing, a multiple graded stakes winner in the U.S., ran a fading fifth in the Deputy Minister Handicap (gr. III) in his last start Feb. 3 at Gulfstream Park. The $1.2 million winning share bumped his earnings to $1,755,557 for owner and breeder Summerplace Farm. He is out of the Great Above mare Best Game.
Harvard Avenue had to overcome some early problems.
“He got bumped a little bit at the start, made a run straight up the middle of the track and made a really nice move," Nakatani said of Harvard Avenue. "He just wasn’t good enough to beat the horses in front.”