First City Scores Upset in Cape Verde Stakes

First City Scores Upset in Cape Verde Stakes
Photo: Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins
First City (left) overtakes Mahbooba to win the Cape Verde Stakes.

First City got up in the final strides to nail heavily-favored Mahbooba on the wire in the $200,000 Cape Verde Stakes-Sponsored by The Saeed and Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (UAE-IIT) at Meydan Racecourse Jan. 20. The race was the featured event on the fourth night of the 2012 Dubai World Cup Carnival.

First City was making her Meydan debut for Ali Rashid Al Raihe, who trains the daughter of Diktat for owner Saeed Hamad Al Ahbadi. The 6-year-old mare, formerly trained in England by David Simcock, had just two previous wins to her credit although she had been keeping some very good company. During her 2011 campaign, First City finished third to Timepiece and Sahpresa in the Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes (Eng-I), in addition to finishing fourth to Goldikova in the Prix Rothschild (Fr-I).

It was a clean start for all in the field of eight as Christophe Soumillon sent the favored Mahbooba to the front in the one-mile turf event. The Mike de Kock trainee galloped along comfortably at an easy tempo as she led her rivals through the early stages. Stablemate Reem sat just behind her in second, with Hurricane Havoc just off Reem’s flank in third. Jockey Royston Ffrench had First City settled toward the rear, content to follow the leaders through the first half of the race.

Mahbooba continued to lead as the field entered the turn, edging away and opening up slightly as she hit the top of the stretch. Soumillon asked Mahbooba for more and she responded, kicking clear with two furlongs left to run.

At the same time, Ffrench had First City in an all-out drive in the center of the course, charging from sixth to draw alongside Mahbooba with a furlong to run. The two mares raced neck and neck through the final yards, with First City just getting up in the last stride to nip Mahbooba by a nose.

It was 4 1/2 lengths back to Reem in third, with Hurricane Havoc a nose farther back in fourth. The final time was 1:38.33 over a good turf course.

First City was bred in England by Darley, and is out of the unraced Carson City mare City Maiden. She hails from the immediate family of Dreams Gallore, winner of the 1999 Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I).

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