Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Vale of York made a disappointing 3-year-old debut March 4 in Dubai, as he was rank in the early part of the 1 3/16-mile Al Bastakiya Stakes and then flattened out in the stretch to finish fifth as the favorite in a field of 14.
It was not all bad news for Godolphin however, as their other entry, Mendip, drew away impressively under Frankie Dettori to post an easy 6 1/4-length victory on the Tapeta surface at Meydan Racecourse. Both colts are trained by Saeed bin Suroor.
Vale of York, who was starting for the first time since defeating Lookin At Lucky by a nose in the Nov. 7 BC Juvenile at Santa Anita, broke from post 8 and almost immediately began fighting with jockey Ahmed Ajtebi while throwing his head restlessly. The son of Invincible Spirit had a wide trip while racing in sixth position early on and gradually gained ground on the leaders, which included Della Barba, Mendip, and Enak.
Vale of York put himself in winning position as they straightened away, but was unable to make up ground on the leaders during the sprint to the wire. Della Barba finished second, followed by Enak.
Mendip, a son of Harlan's Holiday—Well Spring, by Coronado’s Quest, remained unbeaten in three starts. The dark bay/brown colt was a $130,000 Keeneland September 2008 purchase before being plucked out of the Fasig-Tipton selected sale of 2-year-olds in training last February by John Ferguson, on behalf of Godolphin. He broke his maiden in September at Kempton in England and made a winning 3-year-old debut at Meydan Feb. 11.
After the race, Suroor was non-committal whether Vale of York and/or Mendip would be pointed toward a run in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), saying he would make that decision after the UAE Derby (UAE-II) on March 27.
One race later in the Mahab Al Shimaal (UAE-III) for 3-year-olds and up, Godolphin, bin Suroor, and Dettori scored once again with Desert Party, the 4-year-old son of Street Cry who finished 14th in last year’s Kentucky Derby.
Desert Party, who won the Sanford Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga as a 2-year-old, held off a late charge from Mutheeb to post his fifth victory in eight starts.