02/14/2013 3:46PM

Dubai: Soft Falling Rain gives de Kock fifth UAE Guineas win at Meydan


Soft Falling Rain gave trainer Mike de Kock his fifth victory in the Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas on Thursday night at Meydan in Dubai. The win for de Kock was somewhat overshadowed by a powerhouse performance from Godolphin, which won four of the six races on the card, including the Group 3 Firebreak with Moonwalk in Paris and the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint with Mental.

Horses with recent North American form continued to disappoint at Meydan. Three-year-old Fortify, fourth in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, could only finish sixth in the 2000 Guineas, his first start at 3. Former Eoin Harty trainee Out of Bounds, well backed in U.S. betting in the Firebreak, checked in 10th.

South African-bred Soft Falling Rain, owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al-Maktoum and ridden to victory by Paul Hanagan, ran his career record to 6 for 6, winning for the second time in Dubai after four South African turf-sprint victories to start his career. Soft Falling Rain has stepped up in distance this winter, winning the 2000 Guineas prep over seven furlongs before stretching his speed to one mile on Thursday night. Soft Falling Rain pulled a little on the backstretch as Hanagan held him slightly off the pace, but relaxed enough to deliver a good kick when asked to run about 300 meters from the finish.

“The way he relaxed last time, and sitting on him at home, I was always pretty confident,” Hanagan said.

Soft Falling Rain won by 2 1/4 lengths, with Snowboarder second and Zahee third. Soft Falling Rain’s winning time of 1:36.70 for 1,600 meters was the fastest in the history of the UAE Guineas. Because of distance preferences, Soft Falling Rain, de Kock has said, might target the Godolphin Mile rather than the UAE Derby on the Dubai World Cup card.

In the one-mile Firebreak, Moonwalk in Paris rallied furiously under Ahmed Ajtebi to win his first start for Godolpin and trainer Mahmood al Zarooni. French-bred and campaigned, Moonwalk in Paris had won three of his four previous starts on all-weather surfaces, but was making his first start at Meydan. Weaving in and out of horses while racing along the inside, he rallied from last of 14 to win by two lengths. Godolphin also took second and third with Fulbright and Barbecue Eddie.

Al Zarooni, teaming this time with Mikael Barzalona, struck again in the Al Shindgha Sprint, where Mental rallied steadily on the outside to beat perfect-trip Kavanagh by one length while making his first start on an all-weather surface. Krypton Factor, winner of the Group 1 Golden Shaheen at Meydan, ran creditably for third in his first start since June.

Trade Storm also turned in a noteworthy performance Thursday, winning the second race, an 1,800-meter turf handicap, by three lengths with a huge rally from last place.