03/27/2009 11:00PM

Big City Man holds off Indian Blessing


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Indian Blessing suffered her first dirt loss in a race less than one mile when she could not run down Big City Man in the $2 million Golden Shaheen at Nad Al Sheba Saturday.

Big City Man is based in Saudi Arabia, and has Saudi owners, but the rest of 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 former jockey Donna Barton, and former assistant to trainer Wayne Lukas. Barton has been based in Saudi since 2000, and won his first race on the World Cup program.

Big City Man was purchased by Prince Sultan Mohd Saud Al Kabeer in 2007 with hopes of running in the 2008 UAE Derby, Barton said, but quickly showed his connections he would only be a sprinter. Thus, Big City Man didn't race between August 2007 and this past January, when he turned up at Nad Al Sheba. He won two starts earlier in the winter, but finished second behind Gayego in his March 5 prep for the six-furlong Golden Shaheen.

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

"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 first against males, also was pushed all the way to the outside fence, where the going might not have been as good, while Big City Man raced nearer the inside rail after breaking from post 2. The filly seemed to have Big City Man in her sites in the last furlong, but could not get past, losing by a half-length. Godolphin's Diabolical finished third.

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