Ortensia, bred and based in Australia, rallied from last and gobbled up the field from the outside to score the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint Sponsored by Emirates NBD (UAE-I) by 1 1/4 lengths March 31 at Meydan Racecourse.
Owned by Alister Fraser, Annie Fraser, and Emma Ridley, 7-year-old mare Ortensia was making her season debut, but was plenty ready off the layoff. She used her powerful late kick to run down her 14 rivals in the 1,000-meter sprint.
Paul Messara trained the winning daughter of Testa Rossa—Aerate’s Pick, by Picnicker. Bred by L.D. Rhodes, she was ridden to victory by Craig Williams.
The final time on the turf course was :57.98, which was three-tenths of a second off the course record. It was the first Dubai World Cup win for Australia since Elvstroem in the 2005 Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I).
British-bred Sole Power, also closing willingly on the outside under Johnny Murtagh, finished second. New Zealand-bred Joy And Fun was another neck back in third.
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IIT) winner Regally Ready, the only United States-based horse in the race, was part of the pace but faded to finish 14th under Corey Nakatani for trainer Steve Asmussen.
“We got away great. He seemed like he wasn’t handling the straightaway. He’s better than that," Nakatani said.
Ortensia won for the 11th time in 30 career starts and bagged her fifth group victory. It was her third consecutive win. In her most recent start on Nov. 19 at Ascot in Australia, the bay mare won the group I Bursewood Winterbottom Stakes by a length going six furlongs on turf.
Ortensia has faced undefeated champion Black Caviar once in her career, finishing third by 6 1/4 lengths back in November 2010.
In the Al Quoz Sprint, Ortensia broke from post 10 and was away slowly, still trailing the field with about 400 meters to run. Joy and Fun held the lead in the late stages along the inside before giving way to Sole Power, who had rallied in the center of the course. But Ortensia ran everyone down with her explosive late kick.
“I had my heart in my mouth," Messara said. "I can’t believe she has won it. I jumped so high when she hit the line I lost my phone. At the 400m I was sweating bullets because I thought she would be a lot closer, but Craig knew what he was doing. He knows her so well.
"She goes to England in seven days and she is going to run in the King’s Stand Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot over the same distance.”
Williams said: "I have had 20 rides on the mare for four wins; she has been unlucky in a few but she was brilliant today. We knew what her weaknesses were going in but we also knew her strengths and the race panned out perfectly. I was able to get into clear running inside the last 300 meters and she had an explosive turn of foot.”
Bet down to the favorite in the North American wagering pools in the final minutes, Ortensia paid $7.20 and $3.