The improbable return of Al Shaqab Racing's Toast of New York produced a winning result Dec. 6 when he shook off a three-year layoff to top three rivals in a 1 1/4-mile race run under allowance conditions on the Polytrack at Lingfield Park.
Possible starts in the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 27 and the $10 Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) in March are both under consideration for Toast of New York's next move.
The son of Thewayyouare was retired with a soft tissue injury in early 2015, after being beaten a nose by Bayern in the 2014 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita Park—a performance that saw the bay horse receive a rating of 124 in that year's Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings.
The now 6-year-old initially took up stallion duties in Qatar, but with the small nature of the Thoroughbred breeding industry in that country, covered only a few mares. Toast of New York returned to Lambourn trainer Jamie Osborne in April this year in preparation for a surprise return to racing.
"He is an entire horse—he covered 15 or so mares in Doha and got 10 in foal. There wasn't the support for him as a stallion and Duncan Moir, the veterinary surgeon who looks after Al Shaqab's horses, was responsible for telling us that the tendon injury he sustained wasn't that bad," said Harry Herbert, racing advisor to owner Al Shaqab Racing. "It's not very often that you see an entire horse at his age racing and coming back from over 1,000 days off, so it is a remarkable effort."
Sent to the front in Wednesday's test by jockey Frankie Dettori, Toast of New York was headed by Mr Scaramanga with seven furlongs to race, but regained the lead turning for home and stayed on well to beat race favorite Petite Jack by a length.
It was a fourth all-weather victory for Toast of New York, who also captured a pair of minor races on Polytrack at Wolverhampton in 2013 before capturing the 2014 UAE Derby Sponsored By The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (G2) run over a synthetic surface at Meydan Racecourse.
"I was very pleased with the way Toast of New York used both legs. Jamie has done a great job to get him into this shape first time out and he still feels heavy and rusty," Dettori said. "I can't emphasize how brilliant everyone has been to get him back. He is only a 70% horse at the moment, but still won. It was a step forward and I think we can improve him a lot. After three years, it was a great effort."
Initially campaigned by Michael Buckley, Toast of New York made three North American starts following his victory in the UAE Derby, finishing sixth in the 2014 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1T) and second to champion Shared Belief in that year's TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (G1), which was contested over a synthetic surface at Del Mar, prior to his dirt debut in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
"We don't have a slot for the Pegasus World, but those normally become available at some point," Herbert added. "We will let the dust settle and have a good think about it. I am sure Sheikh Joaan (bin Hamad Al Thani) would love to see him go for the Dubai World Cup and that would be an obvious target. He was originally bought to go for that race—it has just taken a while to get there.
"It really is a fairy tale. Sheikh Joaan was happy to let Toast of New York go back into training and Khalifa Al Attiya, the general manager of Al Shaqab, and everyone was saying that we were going to do this, but we were going to take our time."