Mahbooba Easy Winner of Balanchine
Photo: Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club
Mahbooba (blue cap, outside) rolls home to win the Balanchine Stakes at Meydan.

Mahbooba drove past First City in deep stretch to win the $200,000 Balanchine Stakes Sponsored by S.O.G. (UAE-IIT) by 2 1/2 lengths at Meydan Racecourse Feb. 17. The nine-furlong turf contest was the highlight on the 10th night of racing in the Dubai World Cup Carnival.

The victory by the Mike de Kock-trained Mahbooba gave her a measure of revenge over First City, who had defeated the daughter of Galileo by a nose in the Cape Verdi Stakes Sponsored by the Saeed and Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (UAE-IIT) Jan. 20.

A field of 10 fillies and mares went into the starting gate for the Balanchine, with Al Sharood and Reem going right to the lead. Jockey Royston Ffrench had First City just behind those two in third, with Christophe Soumillon content to let Mahbooba settle into mid-pack through the early stages of the race.

Reem took over the lead from Al Sharood when the field entered the far turn and opened up a two-length lead. First City continued to track from third, as Mahbooba began to unleash her run on the far outside.

As the field hit the top of the stretch, First City drew alongside Reem and the two mares matched strides as they drove for the wire. Mahbooba was rapidly bearing down on the frontrunners as she responded to Soumillon’s strong right-handed whip.

With less than a furlong to go, Reem and First City battled on but were no match for Mahbooba, who charged past them as they neared the wire. First City edged past Reem to take second by a neck. Al Sharood stayed on for fourth, another 2 1/2 lengths back.

The final time for the nine furlongs was 1:50.27 over a turf course listed as good.

Mahbooba was bred in Australia by her owner, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum. The 5-year-old mare is out of the unraced Red Ransom mare, Sogha, and hails from the female family of North American Horse of the Year, Lady's Secret.

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