Godolphin's unbeaten filly Certify impressively launched her comeback from a lengthy stint on the sidelines Jan. 30, winning the $200,000 Cape Verdi Sponsored by DUBAL (UAE-II) in near record time at Meydan Racecourse.
A dramatic prelude to the evening's co-feature, the 200,000 Al Rashidiya Sponsored by DUBAL (UAE-II), was a gate malfunction that led to a false start when the stalls failed to open in unison. After a gate test, the race was eventually run and won by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum's Mujaarib, who narrowly edged stablemate Mushreq.
Making her first start in 489 days in the Cape Verdi—six months of which due to a medication violation—Certify was keen to race and extended her undefeated record to five wins with a measured three-quarters-length triumph over L'Amour de Ma Vie.
Under a hand ride from Mickael Barzalona, the 4-year-old Elusive Quality filly covered the 1,600 meters (about one mile) on good turf in swift 1:36.09. The time was just .09 of a second slower than the track record.
Barzalona settled Certify in fifth early as eager Godolphin teammate Shuruq led the way soon after the start setting a slow tempo while pursued by French classic winner Flotilla and L'Amour de Ma Vie in second and third, respectively.
Shuruq led into the stretch with Flotilla at her flank, but L'Amour de Ma Vie rallied to shjoot past those two to lead 400 meters out. Barzalona had angled Certify wide on the home turn and the filly ran down the runner-up to take charge in final 200 meters.
"We always thought she was very good and she did that in the style of a classy filly," trainer Charlie Appleby said. "It is great to see she retains that ability she showed at 2.
"Hopefully, she can go on to justify the ultra high regard in which we have always held her."
Pearl of Africa, who broke a step slowly and raced at the back of the six-horse field, kicked powerfully to finish third, 4 3/4 lengths behind L'Amour de Ma Vie. Flotilla checked in fourth, another 1 1/4 lengths back, followed by Mensoora, who tracked Shuruq and Flotilla early before flattening out in the final 300 meters. Shuruq was last after her early front-running effort.
Certify was racing for the first time in 16 months since capturing the 2012 Shadwell Fillies' Mile (Eng-I). Europe's champion 2-year-old filly that season after winning all four starts—including two other group races in England—she was an early favorite of the 2013 One Thousand Guineas (Eng-I). But classic aspirations were dashed when she among the 22 Godolphin horses under disgraced trainer Mahmoud Al Zarooni to test positive for anabolic steroids. The discovery led to a six-month ban from racing and she was shifted to Appleby.
She is the second group winner this season Darley sire Elusive Quality, joining Shuruq, who entered off a win over males in the Al Maktoum Challenge-Round I (UAE-II) Jan. 9 at Meydan.
Bred in partnership by Sheikh Mohammed's Darley, Hurstland Farm, and William Kartozian, Kentucky-bred Certify is out of United States stakes winner and multiple grade III-placed Please Sign In, by Doc's Leader. Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock adviser, John Ferguson, bought her for $80,000 out of the Hurstland Farm, agent, consignment at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Certify is a half sister to 2007 Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. I) winner Cry and Catch Me, by Street Cry, and is from the family of European champions Habitat and Suave Dancer.
Also returning from a long absence, Mujaarib had the services of French champion jockey Christophe Soumillon in the Al Rashidiya and snapped a five-race winless skein. He prevailed by a neck from 5-2 favorite Mushreq after grabbing a narrow advantage in the final 200 meters and holding on.
Time for the 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) on turf was 1:48.36. The race is a prep for the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) on the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) undercard March 29.
A 5-year-old Australian-bred son of Nadeem, Mujaarib improved to five wins from 10 career starts and earned his first victory since a head win in the Charity Mile (SAf-II) Nov. 3, 2012 at Turffontein. He was making his first start in 253 days.
With the winner settled near the back of the field and Mushreq in mid-division, Maputo and Steeler led the 12-field field early and were neck and neck entering the stretch. In the winning move, Soumillon brought Mujaarib wide for a clear run and the pair seized the lead from fading Maputo. Mushreq boldly challenged, but Mujaarib was too strong in the closing stages.
"I was pretty hopeful my fellow would run well as he has been working nicely enough, but I did not think we could beat Mushreq," Soumillon said. "When we saw daylight he really quickened but he was tiring, so the post appeared just in time."
Both the winner and runner-up are trained for Sheikh Hamdan by Mike de Kock.
Maputo hung on for third, two lengths behind Mushreq. Steeler faded to fifth.
Mujaarib was bred by Sheikh Hamdan's Shadwell Stud Australasia out of the winning Lahib mare Mihnah. He is from the first crop of Shadwell's Australian group I winner Nadeem, a son of Redoute's Choice, who stands at Little Avondale Stud in New Zealand.
After 39 attempts, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Sons enjoyed a breakthrough win in the United Arab Emirates, capturing the evening’s first race with Bader Al Shaibani-trained Alsaaeqah, who was making her first start on turf.
The 7-year-old homebred Dynever mare headed Beat Baby in the final stride to tally a short head victory under William Buick in the 1,000-meter (about five furlong) handicap.
The winner is out of the Forty Niner mare Forante and from the family of 1986 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Skywallker and U.S. grade I winner Monzante.