Dubai Destination Claims First Group Win

Dubai Destination's strong finish in the 100,000 British pound Rothmans Royals Champagne Stakes (Eng-II) on Friday established the colt as the early favorite for next season's Sagitta 2000 Guineas.

The Kingmambo colt out of Mysterial (by Alleged) trailed halfway through the seven-furlong test at Doncaster. Once asked by jockey Frankie Dettori, he rolled easily and smoothly passed his seven challengers to take the lead at the quarter pole. Dubai Destination won by a comfortable one length lead over Rock of Gibraltar who was a half-length ahead of Leo's Luckyman. The final time was 1:26.45.

Godolphin Racing owns Dubai Destination. Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum bought the colt as a yearling for $1.5 million in Keeneland's 2000 July selected sale. The colt was bred by Calumet Farm.

The Champagne Stakes was Dubai Destination's third start and his first stakes start. He broke his maiden in his second start on July 10 at Newbury.

"It was a big jump from a maiden to a Group II but we've always believed in this horse that he could go and do it," assistant trainer Rick Bowman told Sporting Life. Trainer David Loder could not attend the race because he was stranded in the United States. The shut down of airline flights following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center prevented him from traveling.

"He's being showing phenomenal work at home and now he's gone and done it on the track," Bowman said. The victory jumped Dubai Destination's total earnings from $9,761 to $98,021.

Dettori said he was amazed that his mount was able to make up a four-length deficit over half a furlong.

"He showed a tremendous change of gear there and will get a mile easily. He is definitely a Guineas horse," Dettori told Sporting Life.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien was not too upset with the performance of Rock of Gibraltar, who is part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson.

"He ran a good solid race," O'Brien told Sporting Life. "The faster the ground, the better he would have liked it. He wants fast ground. "But the run will do him good for experience - he is an immature horse and racing will help him."

The British Tote now has Dubai Destination listed as the 5/1 favorite for the 2000 Guineas. Ladbrokes has the colt listed as a 6/1 favorite. Coral Eurobet and William Hill list the Goldolphin charge as their second choice behind Johannesburg.

In other Doncaster racing, Godolphin's Ekraar won the 27,625 British pound Amco Corp. Troy Stakes by a head over Hill Country. Boreas finished third by four lengths.

The winner, a bay horse by Red Ransom out of Sacahuista (by Raja Baba), completed the 1 1/2-mile race in 2:33.32. Ekraar was ridden by Dettori and is trained by Saeed Bin Suroor.