03/26/2011 12:46PM

Dubai Duty Free: Third time's the charm for Presvis

Andrew Watkins
Presvis, ridden by Ryan Moore, holds off the 8-year-old mare River Jetz to win gthe $5 million Dubai Duty Free.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – In the 2009 Dubai Duty Free, Presvis beat 14 rivals by at least two lengths, but pacesetting Gladiatorus ran the race of his life that night, and Presvis had to settle for second. That was better than 2010, when Presvis got bottled up behind a wall of horses in the stretch, finishing 11th.

The third time was a charm. With jockey Ryan Moore diving decisively to the inside for running room 300 yards out, Presvis ran down the game 8-year-old mare River Jetez to capture the $5 million Duty Free by three-quarters of a length. Wigmore Hall, who had a dreadful trip, was another 1 1/2 lengths back in third. Royal Bench was fourth, and the American Victor’s Cry a decent fifth.

Presvis, a 7-year-old gelding trained by Luca Cumani, has all sorts of quirks, most of them made manifest during morning training, when he is liable to do anything.

“A lot of work has gone into this horse in the morning,” said Moore, who has ridden Presvis in 12 of his 23 starts, eight of them wins.

Around the barn and in his stall he is easy to handle, Cumani said this week, and Presvis’s only real racing hang-up comes leaving the gate. Presvis doesn’t break into his race; he walks into it. That was the case Saturday night, and Presvis was last after one stride. Up front, Beauty Flash led Strawberrydaiquiri down the long back straightaway through fractions of 25.38 seconds for the first 400 meters and 49.45 for 800. The pace-setters would have no final say, but as they came back to the rest of field about three furlongs from the finish, the 16 horses bunched up tight. Presvis, who had moved up on the turn, was lucky, scooting a couple paths inside to avoid a jam-up, leaving him plenty of time to wear down River Jetez. Wining time for about nine furlongs on good-firm turf was 1:50.21. Presvis paid $12.60 to win in United States betting pools.

“It’s a huge run for her,” said River Jetz’s trainer, Mike de Kock. “She got beat by a bloody good horse. I’d have liked him to find a little trouble.”

Wigmore Hall found plenty. Near the back of the field while on the rail down the straight and partway around the turn, Wigmore Hall and jockey Jamie Spencer came out seeking a spot about three furlongs out. There was none

“It was so tight,” Spencer said.

Wigmore Hall came home powerfully but too late, beaten 2 1/4 lengths. 

Back in 2008, Presvis was no more than a fairly promising handicap horse in England. Now, he has earned almost $6.5 million – well worth whatever trouble he has caused.