United States-based X Y Jet ran lights-out on the front-end but couldn't fend off Muarrab, who edged past near the wire to win the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News (UAE-I) March 26 at Meydan Racecourse.
Owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Muarrab, a 7-year-old gelding by Oasis Dream out of the Wolfhound mare Licence To Thrill, rallied from off the pace to win the about six-furlong event in 1:10.62. He was ridden by Paul Hanagan for trainer Musabah Al Muhairi.
X Y Jet, owned by Rockingham Ranch, which purchased majority interest earlier this year, and Gelfenstein Farm, didn't break sharply but accelerated to challenge Rich Tapestry for the lead. The 4-year-old Kantharos gelding had won three consecutive stakes, including the Gulfstream Park Sprint and Mr. Prospector (both gr. III), at Gulfstream Park before his trip to the United Arab Emirates.
"I would have loved to win, but he ran a huge race," trainer Jorge Navarro said of X Y Jet, the favorite in U.S. betting pools.
Hanagan credited the winner and second-place finisher with producing a serious stretch battle.
"He's such a star; he's very laid back when the gates open," Hanagan said of Muarrab, who won for the 13th time in 24 starts. "But every time I went to get in front in the stretch, (X Y Jet) kept coming back on him."
Muarrab was 6-1 in U.S. pools. Morawij rallied to be third, while U.S.-based Confrontation, who won the Firebreak Stakes (UAE-I) at about one mile Feb. 4, broke poorly, dropped back to last, and never threatened. The Godolphin-owned son of War Pass had finished second to Liam's Map and Tonalist in one-mile stakes last year at Belmont Park.
Muarrab, bred in Great Britain by Stratford Place Stud, won the group III Mahab Al Shimmal at a about six furlongs in his previous start March 5.
It was the first Dubai World Cup program victory for Watson, a top trainer in the United Arab Emirates.
One Man Band, a 5-year-old horse by Pivotal out of the Cape Cross mare Musicanna, grabbed the early lead from his rail post position and never looked back en route to an easy victory in 1:35.21 for about one mile. Cool Cowboy, who chased the leader throughout, couldn't gain in the stretch and was nailed late for second by stablemate Faulkner.
One Man Band won by 4 3/4 lengths. Faulkner had a nose on Cool Cowboy.
Godophin's Marking, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin and the favorite in the U.S. wagering pool, finished fourth, 4 1/2 lengths behind Cool Cowboy. The 4-year-old Bernardini colt didn't break well, eventually moved up to third, and then had no run in the lane; jockey Frankie Dettori said the start hurt his chances.
Watson called the one-two-three finish "unbelievable" and said he was confident One Man Band would win when Cool Cowboy failed to make up ground off the far turn.
"Cool Cowboy wasn't getting to him," Watson said. "(One Man Band) has won this way before when he has gotten an easy lead. It's a great feeling. We have a great team at home and great owners who give us great horses."
One Man Band, a 5-1 shot ridden by Sam Hitchcott, entered the Goldophin Mile off of a victory in a $120,000 handicap at about seven furlongs at Meydan Feb. 25. Bred in Ireland by Richard Pegram, One Man Band now has eight wins, one second, and one third in 15 starts.
The Godolphin Mile was the first Thoroughbred race on a Saturday card that ends with the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I).