07/06/2013 11:20AM

Sandown: Al Kazeem stays perfect on year with Eclipse score


Al Kazeem continued his surprising unbeaten 2013 campaign, winning his third straight Group 1 race when beating Declaration of War by two lengths in the Eclipse Stakes on Saturday at Sandown Park in England.

Sidelined nearly all of 2012 with a fractured pelvis – the same injury that befell Animal Kingdom last year – 5-year-old Al Kazeem has blazed through the first half of the European racing season in a manner few could have predicted. His rise has been aided by an injury to high-class Farhh and Camelot’s failure to live up to his reputation, but Al Kazeem has done nothing wrong in his four-race win streak, taking a Group 3 to get his year started before knocking off Group 1s in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, the Prince of Wales’s, and now the $693,000 Eclipse.

Al Kazeem, his regular rider James Doyle aboard, broke on top in Saturday’s 1 1/4-mile race around one fairly sharp right-handed turn, but quickly was displaced by Mukhadram, the Prince of Wales’s pacesetter who took up the running at a moderate tempo, pressed mildly by Mars. Al Kazeem raced third inside main rival Declaration of War for much of the trip, Doyle coming off the rail for running room and asking his mount to chase down Mukhadram at the three-furlong marker. Al Kazeem never has displayed a huge turn of foot, but he is tactically versatile, has a long run, and is very game, and he steadily reeled in Mukhadram, pushing past about a furlong out, then comfortably holding clear a late outside move by Declaration of War, who earned the place by 1 1/2 lengths over Mukhadram. Further back came Mars, with Pastorius in sixth and The Fugue in seventh both major disappointments on the day. Winning time over good-to-firm, fast-playing ground was 2:04.35.

Mukhadram was not going to win, but might have been second had Al Kazeem not veered into his path as he made the lead, causing jockey Paul Hanagan to check. Stewards reviewed the incident, and though no disqualification was made, Doyle was suspended five days.

Al Kazeem, a Dubawi horse bred and owned by John Deere, won for the seventh time in 12 starts, and has finished second in four other races. His trainer, Roger Charlton, indicated after the Eclipse that Al Kazeem would get a summer break after his busy early-season schedule. Charlton said the Prix de l’Arc d’Triomphe was Al Kazeem’s major year-end goal, and that the horse would return to action either in the Irish Champion or the Juddmonte International.