10/08/2011 4:30PM

Keeneland: Dullahan wears down Majestic City in Breeders' Futurity to win first career race

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Keeneland/Coady Photography
Dullahan overtakes Majestic City to win the Breeders' Futurity under jockey Kent Desormeaux.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – For much of this year Dullahan was largely known for being the half-brother of 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

Saturday he made a name for himself, stepping out of the sibling’s shadow by winning the Grade 1, $400,000 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland by three-quarters of a length over Majestic City.

There was little doubt about Dullahan’s superiority Saturday over the synthetic Polytrack surface at Keeneland. He encountered trouble into the first turn, getting impeded by another horse and steadied in traffic, and then had to make a lengthy, wide rally from 11th to get up over the short stretch in place in 1 1/16-mile races at Keeneland.

“It went exactly opposite of what we had planned,” jockey Kent Desormeaux said. “I mean I almost fell into the first turn.”

If anything worked in his favor in the Breeders’ Futurity, it was the pace. Longshot Musical Flair set fast splits of 22.67 seconds and 46.15, with Majestic City in close pursuit.

Leaving the turn, it seemed Majestic City would prove victorious after he surged to a clear lead with just a furlong remaining.

But the distance, or perhaps inexperience routing, seemed to catch up to Majestic City and he faltered late – though no one other than Dullahan was able to pass him.

Optimizer was a length further back in third, while favored Shared Property failed to threaten, running sixth after a slow start.

Dullahan, a 2-year-old son of Even the Score owned by Jerry Crawford’s Donegal Racing, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.12. He paid $37.60.

The win confirmed Dullahan as a “special horse” to trainer Dale Romans, though the victory was  just his first from five starts. But this was no ordinary maiden entering the race; previously he had finished third in the Grade 2 With Anticipation at Saratoga Sept. 1.

“When you can overcome adversity and win a Grade 1, you’re a really good horse,” Romans said.

In winning the Breeders’ Cup Futurity, a Win and You’re In challenge race, he earned an expenses-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs – if his connections opt to pursue that race.

Dullahan’s best performances have come on Polytrack and Turf, making the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf another race for his connections to consider.

He raced twice on dirt at Churchill Downs during that track’s spring meet, both times in sprints, finishing third and fifth in the first starts of his career.

Romans said he would discuss Breeders’ Cup options with owner Jerry Crawford, but hinted the Juvenile might be the race of choice. “There’s a good shot of it,” he said.