03/26/2016 4:39PM

Real Steel thrills Japanese fans in Dubai Turf


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – It was not the breathtaking performance of countryman Just a Way in 2014, but a Japanese horse, Real Steel, won the $6 million Dubai Turf for the second time in three years.

The Japanese, who love their racing and were at the races Saturday night in force, had barely finished celebrating Lani’s win in the UAE Derby when Real Steel, overcoming a wide draw under Ryan Moore, saw off a solid showing from Euro Charline to win the Dubai Turf at Meydan by a half-length.

Tryster, the 8-5 favorite on the North American tote board, pulled his usual Silky Sullivan routine, dropping back to last and coming with a furious run, but the horses in front of him Saturday were far stronger than the competition he’d buzzed past twice earlier this meet, and he checked in two lengths behind Euro Charline in third.

Ertijaal improved for trainer Mike de Kock and finished fourth, while the Paddy Gallagher-trained, California-based Flamboyant was a very respectable fifth. Intilaaq, the race’s second favorite, acted studdish before the race and never really got involved after it started, finishing seventh.

Real Steel has played second fiddle in Japan to fellow 4-year-old Duramente, who beat him in the Japanese Derby last year and in a Group 2 prep race there for the two horses’ Dubai adventure, but on this night, when Duramente could only finish second in the Sheema Classic, it was Real Steel who wore the crown.

Trained by Yoshito Yahagi for the Sunday Racing Company, the son of Deep Impact-Loves Me Only, by Storm Cat, had run the best race of his life in the Japanese St. Leger over 1 7/8 miles last fall, but he had plenty of pace for the about 1 1/8-mile Dubai Turf.

Breaking from post 14, Moore and Real Steel were forced to lose a bit of ground, but they got into the two or three path around the first turn. Moore allowed his mount to race in the clear from fifth while three paths off the rail down the backstretch, guided him back into line behind cover around the final bend, and then tipped the horse out again to make his move.

Very Special had shaken off Ghaamer by then, and as she’d done in the Balanchine Stakes against Euro Charline, attempted to win the race by opening a lead in upper stretch. But Real Steel would have none of that, attacking with pace and reeling in Very Special inside the final furlong. It was Euro Charline, ridden patiently by Frankie Dettori, who burst from midpack to issue a challenge, briefly looking like she’d make things close, but Real Steel had too much run for her.

“We rode her to finish, but the winner was too good for us,” Dettori said.

Real Steel won for just the third time in nine starts, while the $3.6 million winner’s share of the purse swelled his bankroll to more than $5.5 million.

“He’s a beautiful horse who’s got lots of quality,” said Moore, who won his second Dubai Turf.

Flamboyant, trained by Patrick Gallagher, couldn’t threaten the winner, but performed well by the low standards set by Americans in Dubai turf-route races to get fifth of 15.

“To come halfway across the world and run like this, it was nice,” said jockey Brice Blanc. “He proved he can run with this kind of horse.”