Updated on 02/24/2017 12:22PM

Meydan: Heavy favorites Mubtaahij, Vazirbad defeated

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Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club
Beautiful Romance, ridden to victory by Oisin Murphy for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, was one of Godolphin’s three winners Thursdayin the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy.

Heavy favorites Mubtaahij and Vaziribad both were defeated on Thursday at Meydan Racecourse, but neither loss was especially surprising.

Mubtaahij, who was second in the 2016 Dubai World Cup and narrowly beaten last year in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga, had his first start since finishing unplaced in the Jockey Club Gold Cup in the listed Curlin Handicap on Thursday. Trainer Mike de Kock had cautioned that Mubtaahij entered the race well short of his best and was using this race only to gain fitness toward another World Cup run, but North American bettors still made him the 7-5 favorite.

Mubtaahij, back in de Kock’s barn after racing for Kiaran McLaughlin during his 2016 American adventure, ran decently in defeat, settling in mid-pack, moving toward the lead with about 300 meters out, but falling 1 1/2 lengths short of Etijaah at the finish of the 2,000-meter dirt race. Etijaah, a 7-year-old by Daaher, was ridden to victory by Sam Hitchcock for trainer Doug Watson and Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum. He slipped through along the rail as Mubtaahij was making his three-wide move, and surely benefited carrying 15 pounds less than the favorite. Winning time on a fast track was 2:03.95.

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Vaziribad, prepping for the $1 million Gold Cup on the World Cup undercard, a race he won last year, came up 1 1/2 lengths short of Beautiful Romance, who got the jump on Vaziribad and held him clear in the in the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy over about 1 3/4 miles of turf. Beautiful Romance, ridden to victory by Oisin Murphy for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, was one of Godolphin’s three winners Thursday. Based mainly in England throughout her career, Beautiful Romance, a 5-year-old daughter of New Approach, was making her Dubai debut following two races in Australia - a seventh in the Melbourne Cup and a win in the Group 2 Quayclean Zipping Classic. Vaziribad carried 4.4 pounds more than Beautiful Romance, and the two should meet again March 25 in the Gold Cup.

Nomorerichblondes prevailed by 1 1/2 lengths in a slowly run edition of the Group 3 UAE Oaks. An American-bred by Hard Spun out of Miss Luann, by Unbridled’s Song, Nomorerichblondes beat Midnight Chica by 1 1/2 lengths, with Complimenti third. Antonio Fresu rode for trainer Ahmad bin Harmash as Nomorerichblondes required 2:01.85 to complete 1,900 meters, or about 1 3/16 miles, on a fast dirt track. That winning time was .02 of a second slower than California Chrome’s clocking last year in the 1 1/4-mile World Cup.

A previous version of this article misstated the race in which Mubtaahij finished second last summer at Saratoga. It was the Woodward, not the Whitney.