03/26/2016 4:18PM

Postponed proves best in Dubai Sheema Classic


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – It took Postponed 12 starts to win his first Group 1 race, but he did not waste much time getting his second.

Jockey Andrea Atzeni was on the right horse Saturday night in the $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan Racecourse, and he gave Postponed a perfect ride. Atzeni and Postponed drafted behind a horse while perched two wide, tipped three deep turning into the homestretch, and went on to a two-length victory over the fine Japanese horse Duramente.

“It was very straightforward today," Atzeni said. "He traveled brilliantly and was in a nice position all the way. I knew it would take a good horse to beat him today."

The best horse behind him on the night, Duramente, might have gotten closer had he not dislodged his right-front horseshoe shortly before the start. Duramente was taken off the track to be attended by the track farrier, but the shoe could not be repaired, and Duramente was forced to race barefoot on that foot. He ran on strongly from the back of the field, chasing home the winner, and could well have done better with the proper footgear.

“He didn’t shove like always does, and he was trying to change his [leads] many times, and this isn’t usual for him,” jockey Mirco Demuro said.

Duramente headed an excellent showing from the three Japanese runners in the Sheema, with Last Impact third and One and Only fifth. Between them came Highland Reel, who set the pace but could not quicken with Postponed in the stretch.

“He ran a very good race, my horse,” said Highland Reel's jockey, Ryan Moore. “He ran against the front two who had runs, and he’ll come on from it.”

Postponed’s most-recent race had come in the Group 2 City of Gold here March 5, and while no City of Gold winner had returned to win the Sheema Classic, Postponed was no typical City of Gold winner. A Group 2 winner at 4, he finished a close third in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup last summer before getting his first Group 1 victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on July 26 at Ascot. Postponed won that race on soft turf on a European-style course, and showed his versatility Saturday by performing just as well on a flat, fast-playing track. His time of 2:26.97 was a course record.

“We were hopeful he’d perform like this, but you never know,” said Roger Varian, who took over Postponed’s training when his owner, Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, moved 35 horses from trainer Luca Cumani late last fall.

“We’ll get him home, keep him in mind for the 1 1/2-mile races that are obvious targets.”

Postponed now has won 7 of 15 starts – including 5 of 6 at 1 1/2 miles – and the $3.6 million winner’s share of the Dubai Sheema Classic was more than double what Postponed previously had earned in his career. The handsome bay horse is a son of Dubawi out of the Dubai Destination mare Ever Rigg. He was bred in Ireland by St. Albans Bloodstock.