Eoin Harty, who was hired by Sheikh Mohammed to train 2-year-olds in this country to try and win the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), may eventually accomplish that, but Saturday he showcased fillies, running one-two in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) with Tempera and Imperial Gesture.
King's Consul, a son of Kingmambo purchased for $5.3 million as a yearling, broke his maiden at first asking on the Breeders' Cup eve race card at Belmont Park on Friday.
The wide chasm that separates American and European horses was in evidence Friday morning, as Godolphin's big guns – Sakhee and Fantastic Light – both turned in pedestrian works over the main track, much to the satisfaction of assistant trainer Tom Albertrani.
Aidan O'Brien said on a national teleconference Wednesday afternoon that plans to ship to Belmont Park early next week are still on go. O'Brien will be arriving next Tuesday with one of the most powerful European contingents in Breeders' Cup history. The Ballydoyle trainer has Galileo and Black Minnaloushe for the Classic, Milan for the Turf, Bach for the Mile, Mozart for the Sprint, Johannesburg for the Juvenile, and Sophisticat for the Juvenile Fillies.
The main body of the Godolphin forces arrived at Belmont Park at 1:30 Friday afternoon following a flight from Stansted Airport in England. Fantastic Light, Sakhee, and Noverre will be in quarantine for 36 to 48 hours, and are expected to test the Belmont track for the first time either Sunday or Monday. Assistant trainer Tom Albertrani is expected to arrive on Saturday.
The main body of the Godolphin forces departed Stansted Airport in England Friday morning for their journey to New York. After arriving at Belmont Park later in the afternoon, Fantastic Light, Sakhee, and Noverre will begin their 24-hour quarantine. They are expected to test the Belmont surface for the first time on Sunday.
ESSENCE OF DUBAI
Sunray Spirit, the odds-on favorite, came from far back to win the co-featured 79th running of the $106,800 Cowdin Stakes (gr. III) for 2-year-olds at Belmont Park Sunday.
Godolphin's Sakhee showed a similar turn of foot as he did in winning the Juddmonte International Stakes (Eng-I) to win Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) at Longchamp.
Godolphin scored a win in the Prix du Rond-Point Casino Barriere de la Rochelle (Fr-II) at Longchamp Saturday -- one day before they send out favored Sakhee in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) -- when China Visit held off Jim and Tonic for the one-length victory. China Visit, a 4-year-old son of Red Ransom, completed the mile in 1:44 4/5 on ground listed as "very soft."
Led by Essence of Dubai, Godolphin Racing's entry filled the exacta spots in Saturday's $250,000 Norfolk Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita, giving Pulpit his first stakes winner as a sire. Morning-line favorite Came Home was scratched due to some filling in his right-front leg.
Summoner, a 33-1 pacemaker ridden by Richard Hills, upstaged Frankie Dettori on strong favorite Noverre to win the $420,000 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Eng-I) at Ascot on Saturday.
Ending weeks of speculation, Godolphin announced Saturday that Juddmonte International Stakes (Eng-I) winner Sakhee will be entered in the Oct. 7 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) at Longchamp.
Godolphin's Express Tour alternately pressed and set the early pace en route to winning Saturday's $150,000 Jerome Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park. Under John Velazquez, Express Tour completed the one-mile race in 1:34.57 on a fast track.
Powered by big-spending Maktoum family from Dubai, the Keeneland September yearling sale blasted off like a rocket on Sept. 10. The first of the auction's two select sessions established opening day records for average price and median. In addition, the second-most-expensive horse in the auction's history, a $5.5- million Storm Cat colt, was sold.
Godolphin's Fantastic Light avenged his defeat at the hands of 3-year-old sensation Galileo in July's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (Eng-I) with a thrilling head-length decision over that rival in Saturday's Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I) at Leopardstown.
It's round two for Galileo and Fantastic Light when they clash in Saturday's Ireland The Food Island Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, where there will be more than the £825,000 prize money at stake.
Distant Music will attempt to keep Juddmonte Farms' hot streak in high-class 1 1/4-mile races intact in Tuesday's Juddmonte International Stakes (Eng-I) at York on Tuesday. This weekend, Juddmonte Farms homebreds won the Alabama Stakes (gr. I), Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II), and Pacific Classic (gr. I) -- each a 1 1/4-mile event.
Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stud has entered into an agreement to purchase Lexington's Jonabell Farm. The purchase includes the 790-acre property, which has been at its current location since its founding in 1954. John and Jessica Bell III own the farm, which is managed by their son Jim.
Godolphin's Tempera made the class jump from the maiden ranks to stakes company with an impressive nine-length victory in the $150,000 Sorrento Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar Saturday.
Galileo, the undefeated winner of the Epsom and Irish Derbies this year, squares off against Fantastic Light and 10 other runners in what promises to be a stirring rendition of the group I $1.07 million King George and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot. The race will be telecast live on ESPN News Saturday at 10:45 a.m. eastern time, and replayed Sunday on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. eastern.
Noverre, who finished first in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French Two Thousand Guineas, Fr-I) in May, has been disqualified following a positive drug test French officials confirmed today.
He was shut out on several big lots early at the second session of the Keeneland July sale Tuesday, but Reynolds Bell, bidding for Jayeff B Stable, got the one he really wanted, a Seeking the Gold filly named Scene Seeker. Bell actually dropped out of the bidding, but then jumped back in and secured the filly for $3.7 million.
Del Mar's 2001 meet opens Wednesday with the Oceanside Stakes serving as the opening-day feature. A profusion of entrants for the one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds led the track to split the race into two divisions.
Noverre, who won the French 2,000 Guineas, has failed a subsequent drug test and is likely to be disqualified. The colt, owned by Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin, tested positive for the arthritis medication methylprednisolone.
First-crop sire Danjur was represented by his first winner Friday at Louisiana Downs when Dandy Princess won the track's ninth race, a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race for 2-year-old fillies. On Sunday, Danjur's half-brother -- Godolphin's Essence of Dubai -- won in his career debut at Hollywood Park.
Godolphin's E Dubai avenged his second-place finish to Hero's Tribute in the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) with an impressive 5 3/4-length victory in Sunday's $150,000 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park. The winning time marks the fastest running of the Dwyer since the race was switched to its present distance in 1994.
England's four-day Royal Ascot meeting begins today, with a clash of Two Thousand Guineas winners on tap in the opening day feature, the St. James's Palace Stakes (Eng-I).
Leading European first and second crop sire Charnwood Forest (Ire) has died after fracturing a leg at Rathbarry Stud in Ireland on Sunday.
Imagine completed a classic double when she won the Epsom Oaks Friday in England. On May 27, the Sadler's Wells filly won the Irish One Thousand Guineas at the Curragh.
About five hours before Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I), England will know the results of its Vodafone Epsom Derby (Eng-I). Fourteen horses are entered for the 12-furlong race, and four trainers have multiple entries, including a foursome scheduled to run for Barry Hills.
Petrushka and Mutafaweq, each a three-time group I winner, will face seven other horses in Friday's Vodafone Coronation Cup (Eng-I) at Epsom Downs.
Fantastic Light edged Golden Snake in the stretch to earn a neck-length victory in the Tattersalls Gold Cup (Ire-I) on Sunday at the Curragh. In his seasonal debut, Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner Kalanisi finished third, three lengths behind the runner-up.
Godolphin has five horses on the list for the Cup, including Fantastic Light, who finished second to Daliapour last year. Fantastic Light, though, is expected to compete at the Curragh in Ireland Sunday in the Tattersalls Gold Cup.
Three-year-old Muwakleh, a full sister to Dubai World Cup winner Almutawakel, has been retired from racing after sustaining a slab fracture of her right knee during the closing stages of the May 6 Sagitta One Thousand Guineas (Eng-I).
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, who with other members of his family operates Godolphin Racing, created a buzz on the backstretch at Churchill Downs Friday. Godolphin is seeking its first Kentucky Derby triumph with Express Tour. With a strong contingent of horses running in England on Saturday, it was uncertain whether Mohammed would be at Churchill Downs. Mohammed and entourage arrived Thursday in a jet that passed over the racetrack on its approach to the Louisville airport.
With the defection of Godolphin Racing's Street Cry from the Kentucky Derby due to an injury, jockey Frankie Dettori has opted to remain in England to ride Tobougg in the Sagitta Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket the same day. Tobougg is also owned by Street Cry's owner, Sheikh Mohammend.
Godolphin's Street Cry, winner of the UAE Two Thousand Guineas and runner-up in the UAE Derby, will not run in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) after suffering an ankle injury Sunday morning. "He went out for a jog this morning," assistant trainer Tom Albertrani said, "and when he came back we noticed some filling in the right front ankle."
Street Cry, Godolphin's main hope for the May 5 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), worked five furlongs in 1:02 2/5 Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs.
Now that this past weekend's preps have had time to sink in, is the Derby picture more or less clear than it was last week? Although only five strong horses emerged – Congaree, Monarchos, Millennium Wind, Balto Star, and Jamaican Rum – the opinion here is that the Derby picture still is very confusing, based on the number of horses trying to buck history.
Godolphin Racing's Express Tour, winner of the UAE Derby, is shaking off the effects of a foot bruise that has hampered his training in recent days at Churchill Downs. Godolphin assistant trainer Eric Coatrieux said the colt was "off for a couple of days" after he bruised his left front foot in training. Coatrieux expects the colt to return to the track on Tuesday.
A field of 34, including 10 runners from the Godolphin Stable, has entered the Vodafone Coronation Cup, which will be contested at Epsom on Friday, June 8.
With the annual last weekend in March lull, the only news on the racing front was the impressive 3-year-old debut by Ommadon in an Aqueduct allowance race on March 28. This gives us an opportunity to sit back, take a deep breath, and reflect on...well, anything that will keep the Derby electrodes charged during this unwelcomed break in the action. With most of the horses here pretty much embedded in our minds already, we're going to concentrate a good deal on the two Godolphin horses, whom we feel will be legitimate threats, despite the questions surrounding them.
When he left California in early January to spend the winter in Dubai, trainer Eoin Harty hinted he might split his stable when he returned in April. He confirmed that on Thursday.
A total of 149 horses remain in the 2001 Vodafone Derby, run at Epsom on Saturday, June 9, after the first forfeit stage. They include 32 trained in Ireland, 19 currently stabled in Dubai and six from France. The number of entries at this stage has been bettered only once in the last four years.
Godolphin Racing's Street Cry, one of the leading 2-year-olds in America last year, took his first step toward his return to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May by winning the $250,000 United Arab Emirates (UAE) Two Thousand Guineas at Nad al Sheba Race Course in Dubai on Thursday.
Tiger Woods, the reigning champion of the golfing world, spent Wednesday afternoon touring the state of the art Al Quoz Stables in Dubai, the home of Godolphin Racing. During the tour of Al Quoz, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum told the golfer that one of Godolphin's most promising 2-year-olds was to be named Dubai Tiger. A son of Storm Cat out of the Saratoga Six mare Toga Toga Toga, Dubai Tiger was purchased for $1.8 million at the 2000 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Street Cry has his first outing of the year on Thursday, March 1st but another leading Godolphin contender for the American Triple Crown races, Express Tour, needs more time and will have his seasonal debut delayed until the UAE Derby at Nad al Sheba on March 24th.
The cry of "Go, Big Blue" resounded throughout the New York area on Super Bowl Sunday. Although it was silenced following the New York Giants' defeat to the Baltimore Ravens, don't be surprised if it is resurrected by Gang Godolphin around the first Saturday in May. That's when Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum and his faithful followers will invade Churchill Downs bearing gifts and exuding confidence. Boxloads of Godolphin jackets, shirts, and caps will turn Churchill Downs into a sea of blue. Over the past two years, three members of Maktoum's Marauders made it to the starting gate on Derby Day, their coats shining like burnished copper. But there really wasn't a Derby horse beneath those glistening exteriors.
Godolphin Racing continues to purchase 2-year-olds in training, adding Tempting Fate and the unbeaten Gone West colt West Order to their roster. Last week the Dubai-based racing operation purchased Express Tour with an eye toward next year's Triple Crown races.