The two grade 3 stakes on Meydan's Feb. 11 card moved their runners one step closer to the big prizes offered during the March 25 Dubai World Cup Festival, as Qatar Bloodstock's North America delivered a scintilating performance in the Firebreak Stakes Sponsored by Meydan One Mall.
Contested at 1,600 meters (about one mile) on the dirt, this race drew a field of eight that included three U.S.-bred runners. Heading the field was the Satish Seemar-trained North America, who was perfect in three starts at Meydan since the Dubai track launched its winter racing carnival.
Desert Force and Heavy Metal took the lead through the early running, with North America comfortably placed third on the rail. Coming into the turn, North America slipped through to take command under jockey Richard Mullen. Ennobled Friend, a Kentucky-bred son of Distorted Humor , gave futile chase through the stretch but to no avail. Mullen had so much horse beneath him that in the closing stages of the race, he was slowing North America's powerful strides. The pair won by seven lengths over Ennobled Friend with the Mike de Kock-trained Argentine-bred Lindo Amor in third. Time for the distance was 1:36.51.
Qatar Bloodstock bred North America in Great Britain and consigned the son of Dubawi to the Tattersalls December foals sale in 2012, where John Ferguson bought him for $168,431 (U.S. funds). North America raced for Godolphin at 2 and 3, but despite being in the hunt had failed to win. Godolphin offered him for sale and he was acquired by present owner Imhamed M I Nagem.
North America is out of the grade 1-placed Yankee Victor mare Northern Mischief, a half sister to 2001 Eclipse Award-winning champion older female Gourmet Girl (Cee's Tizzy). He is also the first 2017 stakes victor for Dubawi, who has sired 132 other added-money winners. Winning his fourth race from 10 starts, the bay gelding padded his earnings to more than $250,000.
Two races later, Godolphin's 3-year-old colt Thunder Snow made his 2017 debut in the UAE 2,000 Guineas Sponsored by District One Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum City.
Already a group 1 winner on turf (the seven-furlong Criterium International at Saint Cloud), Thunder Snow made a successful transition to eight furlongs on the dirt with a 5 3/4-length victory in what was presumably his prep for the UAE Derby (G1) on World Cup day.
Trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by Christophe Soumillon, the tall, muscular, graceful bay colt from the first Northern Hemisphere crop of Helmet (Exceed And Excel) had little trouble dispatching his eight rivals.
Silent Assassin and Han Sense, a Kentucky-bred from the first crop of champion Hansen, set the pace. Soumillon and Thunder Snow were close at hand along with a pair of Kentucky-breds, Godolphin's Capezzano (Bernardini ) and Charles Fipke's Bee Jersey (Jersey Town ).
After Thunder Snow moved easily into the lead, he was briefly challenged by Bee Jersey, whose shortening strides could not keep pace with his courage, allowing the long-striding Thunder Snow to pull farther ahead throughout the stretch. Final time for the journey was 1:38.48. Bee Jersey finished second and Capezzano, third. Despite the rigors of a long journey and quarantine, Iowa-bred Han Sense came fifth.
Thunder Snow is one of four stakes winners produced by the winning Dubai Destination mare Eastern Joy (all her foals to race). Her dam, the group 2 winner Red Slippers (Nureyev), also foaled group 1 winner West Wind, by Machiavellian.