Godolphin's Hunter's Light provided trainer Saeed bin Suroor a ninth win in the $250,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round II Sponsored by TABLOID (UAE-II) Feb. 7 with a convincing 3 1/4-length victory at Meydan.
Hunter's Light is a nominee to $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) in March, and bin Suroor indicated that race may on the schedule for the 5-year-old son of Dubawi, sire of last year's World Cup winner Monterosso, but a decision had yet to be made.
"He's always been a horse that I like," bin Suroor told Gulf News about Hunter's Light, a group I winner in Italy in his last start. "He has a lot of class. He improved from last time and he handled the trip and surface really well. He showed some real class."
Sent off at 5-to-1 odds in North American pools hosted by AmWest Entertainment, Hunter's Light tracked the early pace and charged past dueling front-runners Prince Bishop and Surfer to seize the lead 200 meters out. He powered away and cruised to the clear win under Silvestre De Sousa, who earned his first career group I win when guiding Hunter's Light to a breakthrough top-level win in the Premio Roma GBI Racing (Ity-I) on Nov. 4 at Capannelle Racecourse in Rome.
Bin Suroor sent out four runners in the Al Maktoum Challenge, including former U.S. classics hopeful Alpha, who finished in a dead heat for first in the Travers Stakes (gr. I) last summer. The 4-year-old Bernardini colt was bidding to bounce back from a last-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) last November but never got going in the Al Maktoum Challenge. He raced in near the back of the 12-horse field early and could advance no farther than mid-division before finishing last again.
Zabeel Racing International's Surfer outfinished Godolphin's Prince Bishop by a half-length for second. Godolphin's Mendip, winner of last year's edition of the race, never threatened in fifth-place.
Godolphin's Saint Baudolino, trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni, finished fourth as the 9-to-5 favorite.
Hunter's Light was timed 1:58.19 for 1,900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles) on the all-weather surface to earn his second consecutive group win and fourth group victory overall. He improved his lifetime record to eight wins, two seconds, and two thirds from 16 starts. His resume also includes in win in the 2012 Talk to Victor Rose of Lancaster Stakes (Eng-III) and a runner-up finish to elite runner Cirrus des Aigles in the Qatar Prix Dollar (Fr-II).
Hunter's Light's dam is the winning Barathea mare Portmanteau, a half sister to multiple French group winner Courteous and listed winner Scriptwriter. Her second dam Dayanata is a full sister to French champion, classic winner, and leading sire Darshaan and a half sister to French group I winner and blue hen mare Darara, who is the dam of group I winners Dar Re Mi, Rewilding, Darazari, and Diaghilev, who raced in Hong Kong under the name River Dancer.
Hunter's Light is from the second crop of Dubawi, a son of Dubai Millennium, who stands at Sheikh Mohammed's Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket.