In an eventful stretch drive that saw his jockey survive a slipping saddle, South Africa’s 50-1 shot Jay Peg set a new course record as he fought back challenges from two top fillies to win the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-IT) during Nad Al Sheba racecourse’s March 29 Dubai World Cup day.
The winner’s time of 1:46.20 for the approximately 1 1/8-mile event surprised trainer Herman Brown, who has campaigned the 4-year-old Camden Park colt through his past four starts, including a runner-up effort in the March 6 Nayef Jebel Hatta (UAE-II) at Nad Al Sheba, which Jay Peg lost by a length to Lord Admiral.
“I really didn’t think they went that fast, but it doesn’t matter,” Brown said. “Some people were disappointed with his last run, but I… knew this horse would fight when it came to a battle.”
And a battle was exactly what Jay Peg got when it came down to the final furlongs of the Duty Free. After breaking well from post 14 and getting a clean trip around the oval, he hit the head of the stretch with room to spare down the center of the track. Meanwhile, Vodka and Darjina were in closer to the rail, boxing in a troubled Archipenko. As Jay Peg made his move, he showed remarkable fortitude while fending off a bid from Vodka and another determined advance from Darjina.
In the final strides, the colt held off Darjina to win by a half-length. Archipenko got up for third.
“He always enjoys the fight,” said jockey Anton Marcus. “It was always my intention to (come with a late run). This is certainly the best victory of my career; the reality probably won’t sink in until I get on the plane Monday.”
Just seconds after taking the victory, Marcus nearly fell as his saddle, which had shifted during the stretch run, slipped off to the left. The rider was able to maintain control, however, and pulled Jay Peg up without incident after regaining his balance. Marcus said he was especially thrilled to win the Duty Free aboard this particular colt, who had been trained by brother Basil Marcus and is partially owned by brother Selwyn Marcus.
Trainer Herman Brown was thrilled with the performance from the Camden Park colt. The top 3-year-old in his native country last year, Jay Peg already owned grade I victories in the Bloodstock South Africa Cape Guineas (SAF-I) and the Investec Cape Derby (SAF-I) for owners M. Shirtliff, E. Braun, P. Loomes, and Selwyn Marcus.
“He got over his draw very well,” said trainer Herman Brown. “He was headed and he came back again. He’s a real good horse and although he was a very good 3-year-old we’re thinking he’ll be even better at four and five. Hopefully he goes from strength to strength.”
Bred in South Africa by High Season Stud out of the Al Mufti mare Laptop Lady, Jay Peg currently has a 9-3-1 record from 17 starts. The winners’ share of the Duty Free purse will send his earnings skyrocketing – prior to the Duty Free victory, he held just $267,945 in purses.