Unbeaten Soft Falling Rain Wins UAE Guineas
Favorite Soft Falling Rain easily dispatched pacesetter Deauville Prince in the stretch and drew off to a clear win in the $250,000 United Arab Emirates Two Thousands Guineas Sponsored by Al Tayer Motors (UAE-III), the feature race during the sixth meeting of the Dubai World Cup Carnival Feb. 14 at Meydan.
The National Assembly colt, ridden by Paul Hanagan for trainer Mike de Kock, took his unbeaten record to six wins after returning from a dominant front-running win in the Guineas trial last month at Meydan. He scored by 2 1/4 lengths as the 1-to-2 favorite in the main event and was timed in 1:36.07 for 1,600 meters (about one mile) in the all-weather track.
Carrying 131 pounds, conceding 10 pounds to his North American-bred opponents including Godolphin's classics hopeful Fortify, Soft Falling Rain raced in fourth out of the gate, about three wide, and had moved to second within three-quarters of a length behind Deauville Prince before the halfway mark. On cue, he moved to overtake the front-runner and secured the win in the matter of a few powerful strides as Snowboarder flew on the outside to take second.
Zahee, a stablemate of Soft Falling Rain, finished third, three-quarters of a length behind Godolphin's Snowboarder, and Deauville Prince hung on for fourth a nose back. Fortify finished sixth after racing mid-division early and then tiring in the final quarter-mile.
De Kock was concerned Soft Falling Rain's ability at the Guineas distance, but owner Sheikh Hamdam bin Rashid al Maktoum said a start in the United Arab Emirates Derby (UAE-II) at 1,900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles) had not been ruled out.
"He is a really nice horse and we will have to decide where he runs next," Sheikh Hamdan said. "This 1,600 meters really seems to suit him on this surface and we could stick to this trip. The U.A.E. Derby is possible but he has a lot of speed.
"Wherever he runs here next we are keen to take him to England, and Royal Ascot would be a possibility for him."
South Africa's Equus champion 2-year-old last season, Soft Falling Rain entered with five easy wins in as many career starts. His victories included the South African Nursery Stakes (SAf-I) Apr. 28 at Turffontein in his start prior to the Guineas trial Jan. 17 at Meydan.
Sheikh Hamdan bought Soft Falling Rain, who is out of the winning Giant's Causeway mare Gardener's Delight, for 350,000 rands at the inaugural Cape Premier Sale in 2011 in Cape Town. He was bred by Highlands Farms Stud, which is owned by the Beck family of Gainesway in Lexington, and is from the family of 1995 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Gal in a Ruckus.
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