03/31/2012 2:11PM

Dubai World Cup: Cirrus des Aigles defeats St Nicholas Abbey in Sheema Classic

Andrew Watkins
Cirrus des Aigles, Olivier Peslier up, wins the Sheema Classic. It made Corine Barande-Barbe the first woman to win a race on a World Cup card.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Corine Barande-Barbe celebrated her 54th birthday in grand style Saturday night at Meydan, becoming the first woman trainer to win a Thoroughbred race on Dubai World Cup night as Cirrus des Aigles held off Breeders’ Cup Turf winner St Nicholas Abbey to win the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic by a neck.

It was 3 1/2 lengths back to Jakalberry in third.

Though Barande-Barbe said “it is normal” for her to win big races, she did say “you must underline that” when asked about becoming the first woman trainer to win on the world’s richest program.

Under Olivier Peslier, Cirrus des Aigles raced just outside of pace-setting Bold Silvano through moderate fractions of 27.24 seconds, 53.44, and 1:18.64 for six furlongs.

Peslier, who was riding Cirrus des Aigles for the first time, said his 6-year-old gelding was quite to keen to go on but he wanted to wait.

Turning for home he let the Cirrus des Aigles go, and he opened up a clear advantage. But St Nicholas Abbey, a Group 1 winner for Aidan O’Brien and Coolmore, was gearing up for his run under Joseph O’Brien.

But the wire came up before St Nicholas Abbey could get there. Cirrus des Aigles, who was making his 41st start, covered the 1 1/2 miles in 2:31.30 and returned $9 in U.S. pools.

“The trainer gave me all the confidence,” said Peslier, who actually defeated Cirrus des Aigles aboard Zazou in a race at Chantilly on March 3. “I took the second position, my horse wanted to gallop and I just wanted him to relax and just gallop on the bridle. In the stretch, when he’s ready he just keep going and fight well.

Barande-Barbe said she chose Peslier to ride because “he’s one of the rare persons that can beat him, so I wanted to get him on the horse.”

Opinion Poll takes re-run Gold Cup

Opinion Poll won the $1 million Dubai Gold Cup, capping a three-win night for Godolphin Racing, but that was far from the story of this ill-fated race at Meydan. The race was scheduled as the third on the night, but had to be called off by racing officials when Fox Hunt suffered a fatal foreleg injury about an eighth of a mile into the race.

After speaking with the connections of the horses, Dubai racing officials decided the race would be run for a second time following the Dubai World Cup. During the re-running of the race, Bronze Cannon suffered a fatal injury to his left front leg.

* The $5 million Dubai Duty Free was considered a wide-open race, but Cityscape turned it into a one-horse show, taking the lead midway around the far turn and galloping to a 4 1/4-length victory in course-record time.

* Taking advantage of a hotly contested pace, Krypton Factor rallied four wide in the stretch and overtook Rocket Man with about 30 yards to go to win the $2 million Golden Shaheen by 2 1/4 lengths.

* Trainer Aidan O’Brien said Daddy Longs, a 1 1/4-length winner in the $2 million UAE Derby, and third-place finisher Wrote are likely headed to the Kentucky Derby.

* Godolphin Racing continued its dominance of the $1 million Godolphin Mile, winning for the 11th time in 17 runnings, as African Story rolled to a four-length victory over Viscount Nelson.

* A powerful late kick by the 7-year-old mare Ortensia carried her from last to first in the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint.