03/30/2013 8:56AM

Goldolphin Mile: Soft Falling Rain beats older rivals


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Still a 3-year-old on Northern Hemisphere time, Soft Falling Rain was eligible to race in the age-restricted UAE Derby on the Dubai World Cup card, but trainer Mike de Kock chose instead to tackle older horses at a shorter distance, and was rewarded with a three-quarter-length victory in the Group 3, $1 million Godolphin Mile.

Soft Falling Rain, a South African-bred by National Assembly, ran his career mark to 7 for 7 with a very game performance. Breaking from post 13, Soft Falling Rain and jockey Paul Hanagan were parked four paths wide most of the one-turn mile, and Soft Falling Rain, dripping sweat as he went into the gate, appeared to be working hard just to keep up.

“On the turn, I thought maybe we were going to be fifth,” said de Kock, who won his second Godolphin Mile, having captured the 2005 edition with Grand Emporium. 

[DUBAI WORLD CUP: Watch replays and read race recaps]

But Soft Falling Rain pushed past fading pace-pressers to his inside turning for home, took aim at Haatheq, who had taken the lead from pace-setting Alpha about a quarter-mile out, and ran steadily on for a very hard-fought win.

“I was blown away by that performance,” de Kock said. “I haven’t seen too many horses under pressure early and out that deep win.”

The win came in Hanagan’s second ride in a World Cup race, his debut performance producing a runner-up finish in the night’s first race, the Kahayla Classic for Arabians. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum swept the Mile’s top two placings, with Haatheq running perhaps the best race of his career. Moonwalk in Paris finished third, followed by Sarkiyla and Alpha, who ran quite well to hold fifth after setting fast fractions. Winning time for the mile on Tapeta was 1:39.97, the slowest clocking in Godolphin Mile history. Soft Falling Snow paid $5.20 in the United States.

De Kock has no interest in stretching Soft Falling Rain out to longer distances. A major race early this summer on turf in England, such as the Queen Anne or the Diamond Jubilee, could be on his schedule.