02/07/2013 3:14PM

Dubai: Maktoum Challenge goes to Hunter's Light, now in World Cup picture


Hunter’s Light, the winner of a Group 1 turf race in Italy in November, won his first start of 2013 in Thursday’s $250,000 Round Two of the Maktoum Challenge at Meydan Racecourse, joining the list of candidates for the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 30.

Alpha, who finished in a dead heat for first in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga last summer, was last of 12 in his first start of 2013. Alpha was last of 12 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita in November.

Hunter’s Light, ridden by Silvestre de Sousa, ran 1 3/16 miles on Meydan’s Tapeta Footings synthetic track in 1:58.19, winning by a half-length over the outsider Surfer. Prince Bishop, seventh in the 2012 Dubai World Cup, finished third.

Hunter’s Light and Prince Bishop are owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Racing and trained by Saeed bin Suroor. Hunter’s Light, a 7-2 chance with British bookmakers, was close to the pace throughout. A 5-year-old Irish-bred by Dubawi, Hunter’s Light took the lead with a furlong remaining.

Saint Baudolino, second in the 2012 French Derby, finished fourth as the 2-1 favorite.

The Maktoum Challenge was Hunter’s Light’s fourth stakes win in the last year. Before winning the Group 1 Premio Roma in Italy in November, Hunter’s Light won group stakes at Haydock Park in England and in Turkey.

Earlier on the Meydan program, Godolphin-owned runners swept the first three positions in the $250,000 United Arab Emirates 1000 Guineas for 3-year-old fillies over about a mile on the synthetic track.

Lovely Pass, ridden by Ahmed Ajtebi, had an ideal trip, stalking the pace before taking the lead a furlong from the finish. A 7-1 shot, Lovely Pass finished a half-length in front of Shuruq, who was 1 1/2 lengths clear of Music Chart.

Emotif, the 6-4 favorite, finished fifth in the field of 10. Bred in Argentina, Emotif is a 4-year-old by Northern Hemisphere standards, but considered 3 in the Southern Hemisphere.

Lovely Pass, an Irish-bred by Raven’s Pass, won twice in England last year. The UAE 1000 Guineas was her first stakes win.