03/26/2016 3:56PM

Buffering latest veteran to win Al Quoz Sprint


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – There is something about the Al Quoz Sprint that loves a graybeard. Sole Power won the straight-course turf dash at age 8 last year, and while he could only muster a 10th-place finish this year at 9, Buffering scored a three-quarter-length win over Ertijaal at age, say, 8 1/2.

Buffering, Australian-bred and owned, is an 8-year-old on Southern Hemisphere time but 9 on the Northern Hemisphere breeding calendar. But spare the details – he’s no spring chicken. This was Buffering’s 52nd career start in addition to being his best one.

“He’s such a warrior,” said winning rider Damian Browne. “He’s getting better with age.”

Buffering began his career in 2010 and raced regularly against the great Black Caviar as well as the second banana of the Black Caviar era, Hay List. No wonder, then, it took Buffering 18 starts before he won a Group 1.

But since that breakthrough in October 2013, Buffering has been a steady Group 1 performer, though almost exclusively in Australia. He shipped to Hong Kong two Decembers ago and could only finish sixth in the Hong Kong Sprint, but beat two of Hong Kong’s best today, Peniaphobia and Not Listenin’Tome, as well as the 10 others that lined up against him.

It was Peniaphobia who went out to lead down the five-furlong Meydan straightaway, pursued by Buffering and Ertijaal and Lady Shipman on the far outside. Browne started asking with a quarter-mile or so to run, and Buffering asserted himself in the final half-furlong, leading home the sort of bunched finish one would expect in a short race of this quality.

Ertijaal, affirming the quality at which he hinted in lower-level races this meet, tried hard but settled for second, a neck better than Peniaphobia, who had three-quarters of a length on Jungle Cat. Lady Shipman could not carry her one-turn American sprint form to the Meydan straightway, and finished seventh.

Buffering, by Mossman out of the Anabaa mare Action Annie, was timed in 56.34 seconds while winning for the 20th time. Robert Heathcote trains him.