Meydan Madness got off to a rousing and formful start, as Godolphin’s African Story, the odds-on favorite in the
Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, the son of Pivotal – Blixen, by Gone West, tracked the pace set by Red Jazz, while racing along the inside. Jockey Frankie Dettori eased him off the rail and into the clear, and in a few jumps he was gone, opening up with every stride. He completed the mile over the Tapeta surface in 1:37.52.
“It was my banker of my night and it was very easy,” said Dettori.
“I’ve always said this was our best chance of the night,” added bin Suroor, an eight-time winner in this race. “I was really pleased how he looked coming into the race.”
Viscount Nelson, formerly trained by Aidan O’Brien, finished second by 1 3/4 lengths, with Red Jazz holding on well for third. Richard's Kid , winner of the Pacific Classic (gr. I) for Bob Baffert, closed from last to finish fourth in the 13-horse field.
Western Aristocrat, the second choice who won the Jamaica Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont last year and was third in the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) for owner Tom Ludt and trainer Jeremy Noseda, was pulled up midway through the race by jockey Ryan Moore after losing his action. The colt was said to be fine physically.
African Story, a 5-year-old gelding bred by Darley and formerly trained by Andre Fabre, was in great form going into the Godolphin Mile, winning two of his last three starts, including a four-length score in the Burj Nahaar (UAE-III). He brought a 142 Timeform rating in the race, the highest of any horse in the field. He has now won five of his 12 lifetime starts, with three seconds and three thirds.
Several of the jockeys riding in the Godolphin Mile said afterward that the track seemed to be playing on the slow side.