03/28/2009 11:00PM

$5 million double for local duo


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Forty minutes after leading all the way to win the $5 million Dubai Duty Free with the Mubarak bin Shafya-trained Gladiatorus, jockey Ahmad Ajtebi came from last in a 15-horse field to score the narrowest of victories aboard another bin Shafya trainee, longshot Eastern Anthem, in the $5 million Sheema Classic.

Ajtebi and bin Shafya, both from Dubai, combined for a moderately improbable winner in Gladiatorus, but Eastern Anthem came out of nowhere. A 5-year-old, Eastern Anthem had won twice this winter in Dubai, but none of his four victories from nine starts coming into the Sheema Classic had come even in a listed stakes. By Singspiel and out of the good mare Kazzia, Eastern Anthem was bred to be a good horse, and actually was entered in and scratched from the 2007 Epsom Derby. Racing in England last summer, Eastern Anthem won one minor race at Newmarket, losing three other starts.

In the Sheema Classic, rail-drawn Front House took the early lead, and jockey Kevin Shea slowed the pace as Spanish Moon tracked on the outside and Purple Moon got a perfect run inside and just behind the pacesetter. Eastern Anthem, meanwhile, alternated with Macarthur at the tail end of the field. Ryan Moore on Spanish Moon took on Front House after the horses straightened into the stretch, and quickly went past. And after coming outside and gathering himself, Purple Moon also joined the fray. But Ajtebi had moved very wide around the final turn with Eastern Anthem, who sustained a furious rally all the way through the stretch. With Ajtebi frantically pumping on the reins - nearly losing his seat in deep stretch - Eastern Anthem hit the wire a nose in front of Spanish Moon, with Purple Moon a short head behind in third.

Winning time for 2,400 meters (about 1 1/2 miles) was 2:31.84. Eastern Anthem paid $39.20 to win in the United States. The exacta returned $641.40 and the trifecta was worth $5,180.

Golden Shaheen: Big City Man wins

Indian Blessing suffered her first dirt loss in a race shorter than one mile when she could not run down Big City Man in the $2 million Golden Shaheen.

Big City Man is based in Saudi Arabia and has Saudi owners, but his background is American. A son of Northern Afleet, his first four starts came at Calder Race Course in the summer of 2007, and Big City Man was ridden by former U.S.-based jockey Jose Verenzuela. The horse is trained by Jerry Barton, brother of retired jockey Donna Barton and former assistant to trainer Wayne Lukas. Barton has been based in Saudi Arabia since 2000.

Big City Man was purchased by Prince Sultan Mohd Saud Al Kabeer in 2007 with the 2008 UAE Derby in mind, Barton said, but quickly found sprinting was his game. Big City Man didn't race between August 2007 and this past January. He won two starts earlier in the winter here, but finished second behind Gayego in his March 5 prep for the Golden Shaheen.

Saturday night, Big City Man was prominent from the start, while Indian Blessing found early trouble from an outside post.

"She didn't break that well," said jockey Edgar Prado. "The first part of the race I got way behind, and I think that might have cost her."

Indian Blessing, making her first start over a straightaway and against males, seemed to have Big City Man in her sights in the last furlong. But she could not get past, as Big City Man, who was timed in 1:08.93 for 1,200 meters (about six furlongs), held on by 1 1/4 lengths. Godolphin's Diabolical finished third.

Big City Man paid $13.80 to win and combined with Indian Blessing for a $34.20 exacta.

UAE Derby: Godolphin's 'other' colt

You could look at the $2 million UAE Derby one of two ways: Godolphin either gained a second hope for the Triple Crown, or saw its main prospect for the American classics take a backward step. In any case, heavily favored Desert Party went down to defeat Saturday night, losing by a half-length to stablemate Regal Ransom, a horse Desert Party had beaten by almost six lengths when they last met on Feb. 12.

Regal Ransom led from start to finish after breaking from the fence under Alan Garcia, the second front-end winner of the night. A Distorted Humor colt, he began his career last year at Saratoga, winning first out for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin before running poorly in the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita. Regal Ransom had come within a half-length of Desert Party in January, but was soundly beaten over a mile in the UAE 2000 Guineas here last month.

"We thought Desert Party would beat him again," said Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford.

Racing in mid-pack, Desert Party seemed to travel comfortably around the far turn, and jockey Frankie Dettori rode confidently into the stretch as Desert Party gradually picked off horses in front of him. But when he asked Desert Party to go get Regal Ransom, the response was tepid: Desert Party gradually closed, but never really kicked in.

"He ran flat," Dettori said.

The top two were much the best; it was more than 15 lengths to third-place Soy Libriano. Regal Ransom was timed in 1:50 for the 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles).

Regal Ransom returned $28.20. The exacta with Desert Party paid $41.20.

Crisford said both horses would be shipped to Kentucky early next month, with at least one and perhaps both possible for the Kentucky Derby.

Godolphin Mile: Ex-Americans sweep

Americans dominated the $1 million Godolphin Mile - ex-Americans. Two Step Salsa led virtually all the way in the night's first Thoroughbred race, easily holding clear a mild bid from Gayego. Both horses campaigned last year at 3 in the United States, and were purchased privately by Godolphin late in the season.

Two Step Salsa outran rail-drawn first-time dirt horse Cat Junior for the early lead under Frankie Dettori. Dettori had chosen Two Step Salsa over Gayego, and chose well. He came into the long stretch with plenty of horse, and Two Step Salsa lengthened nicely in a strong finish.

"I didn't have anybody close to me," Dettori said. "I was able to relax in front."

Gayego raced in mid-pack and came about six wide for the stretch run. He appeared to be making mild progress in midstretch, but ran evenly late. Longshot Don Renato narrowly got third, with former American Summer Doldrums fourth. Two Step Salsa won by 2 1/4 lengths, and was timed in 1:36.82 for 1,600 meters (about one mile). He paid $5.60 and topped a $17.60 exacta.