Ihtimal Romps to 10-Length U.A.E. Oaks Win
Entering the $250,000 United Arab Emirates Oaks Sponsored by Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (UAE-III) Ihtimal appeared the unassailable standout at Meydan Racecourse Feb. 27, and as it turned out, she was.
After rating in third early, just behind pacesetter Sign of Lucky, Godolphin's Shamardal filly was ridden to the lead off the home turn and romped to a 10-length triumph for jockey Silvestre De Sousa.
Coming in off a 3 1/4-length win in the United Arab Emirates One Thousand Guineas Feb. 6, she becomes trainer Saeed bin Suroor's fourth filly to complete the Guineas/Oaks double.
Ihtimal easily shook free of seven overmatched opponents as Sign of Lucky weakened and faded. She cruised through the stretch, extending her advantage with a couple taps of the whip, and completed the 1 3/16-mile race in 1:58.51 on the all-weather track.
Ihtimal was the overwhelming favorite in North American pools hosted by AmWest Entertainment, paying $2.60 and $2.10.
"She has come on a lot from the last time she ran," De Sousa said. "She's done it in great fashion."
The Oaks was expected to be her final start in Dubai before shipping to England for the One Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) May 4 at Newmarket.
Feedyah, who was third in the U.A.E. Guineas, finished best of the rest, taking second by 1 1/2 lengths from Mensoora, the Guineas runner-up.
Mensoora's stablemate Magroora was fractious in the gate and was scratched.
Ihtimal has a 4-2-2 record from eight career starts. Her record includes a pair of group wins in England last year. She also had a third-place finish to subsequent Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies' Turf (gr. IT) winner Chriselliam in the Shadwell Fillies' Mile (Eng-I) Sept. 27 at Newmarket to cap her juvenile season.
The winning Dubai Destination mare Eastern Joy is the dam of Ihtimal. Eastern Joy is a half sister to 2007 Prix de Diane (Fr-I, French Oaks) winner West Wind. She is from the family of European champion and 1994 Irish Derby (Ire-I) and Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) winner Balanchine.
In a leisurely run race, Richard Hughes had the winner ideally positioned in second as Mustaheel laid down a dawdling opening quarter in :27 flat.
Mshawish had the race sewn up more than a quarter mile out when Mustaheel weakened and yielded.
Trade Storm broke a step slow for Jamie Spencer and raced at the back of the seven-horse field. Though he rallied smartly in the final 300 meters, he never looked a threat to Mshawish in a creditable second-placed finish, 2 1/2 lengths back.
Third-place finisher Mushreq tracked the Mustaheel and Mshawish from third in the early going and finished evenly, 3 3/4 lengths behind Trade Storm.
A 4-year-old son of Medaglia d'Oro , Mshawish was timed in 1:37.13 on turf rated as firm, winning for the first time from two starts this season and for the third time in nine career starts for trainer Mikel Delzangles and Qatari Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani's Al Shaqab Racing. His season debut was a close runner-up finished to Anaerobio in the Al Fahidi Fort (UAE-II) Jan. 23. Anaerobio was scratched from the Zabeel Mile.
Mshawish was bred in Kentucky by OTIF 2007 out of the Thunder Gulch mare Thunder Bayou. He previously raced with distinction at the top level in Europe, finishing fourth both in last year's Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-I, French Derby) at Chantilly and St. James's Palace Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot.
The dark bay or brown colt was a $219,589 purchase by Al Shaqab's bloodstock advisor Nicholas de Watrigant's Mandore International at the 2012 Arqana breeze-up sale.
He sold twice at Keeneland: first as a weanling to Hot Pepper Farm for $25,000 out of the Dapple Bloodstock consignment at the 2010 November breeding stock sale; then as a September yearling to Brown Island Stables for $10,000 from the Bedouin Bloodstock draught. Brown Island in turn offered him at the Arqana sale.
The Camacho colt, sixth in the U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-III) last out, won by one length under Patrick Dobbs when cutting back a furlong. He covered 1,400 meters (about seven furlongs) in 1:24.57, with Jallota finishing second and Najm Suhail third.
A French group III winner last summer, My Catch improved his record to 3-1-1 from seven starts. He is trained by Doug Watson.
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