02/27/2014 2:18PM

Meydan: Ihtimal dominates UAE Oaks


There were a pair of Group 3 stakes on the six-race program Thursday at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, but Ihtimal’s performance in the Group 3, $250,000 UAE Oaks stole the show.

Godolphin’s homebred 3-year-old filly by Shamardal had won the UAE 1000 Guineas – her synthetic-surface debut – on Feb. 6 at Meydan by more than three lengths, but Ihtimal’s performance in the Oaks was of a different magnitude. Taken under restraint early by jockey Silvestre de Sousa, Ihtimal was slightly rank around the first turn and onto the backstretch of the UAE Oaks, a race over about 1 3/16 miles on the Tapeta main track. De Sousa, trying to stay out of trouble with the heavy favorite, guided her three wide and into the clear before the far turn, and there Ihtimal held her position until a little more than a quarter-mile remained to be run.

And when de Sousa let Ihtimal go, the result was somewhat breathtaking. She quickly opened a clear lead and sped through the homestretch in a league of her own, crossing the finish 10 lengths ahead of runner-up Feedyah while stopping the timer in 1:58.51. The showing was strong enough to suggest Ihtimal, Group-1 placed on turf in England last season, can be a factor facing males in the UAE Derby on the World Cup card of March 29.

Mshawish benefitted from a clear pressing trip just off a slow pace winning the card’s co-featured Group 3 Zabeel Mile on turf. Trained by Mikel Delzangles and ridden Thursday by Richard Hughes, Mshawish finished strongly and made the most of his perfect trip, scoring his first win in group stakes competition. It was runner-up Trade Storm, however, who caught the eye. Held up near the back of the field behind the slow pace, Trade Storm had to await running room while inside and in traffic in upper stretch, and once clear, he knifed between horses and finished very well for second while well clear of third-place Mushreq. Trade Storm had a strong World Cup Carnival last winter and might have a stakes win in him before this meeting is done.

Full field for Nad Al Sheba Trophy Stakes

There also is World Cup Carnival racing on Saturday at Meydan, where the feature on a six-race program is the Group 3, $200,000 Nad Al Sheba Trophy. The turf race over about 1 3/4 miles – a prep for the Gold Cup on the World Cup card – drew a full, competitive field of 12 plus four also-eligibles.