03/25/2017 9:14AM

Second Summer takes Godolphin Mile; Sharp Azteca finishes third

Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins
Second Summer and jockey Pat Dobbs win the Godolphin Mile by a neck over Ross.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Second Summer stormed up the inside of the muddy Meydan track to give trainer Doug Watson his second straight win in the Group 2, $1 million Godolphin Mile.

The German horse Ross was beaten a neck by the winner, with the American-based race favorite Sharp Azteca another three-quarters of a length back in third.

Sharp Azteca didn’t break well but made an early move four wide under Edgard Zayas to contest a fast pace. Sharp Azteca made the front close to three furlongs out and took an open-lengths lead into the homestretch, but he began tiring about a furlong out, drifted to his right, and was run down by his two rivals to the consternation of trainer Jorge Navarro.

“The start cost him, but you got to be smarter than that,” Navarro said. “Sit back and wait. Everything’s not gunning, gunning, gunning. I feel like I brought the best horse.”

Second Summer, a Florida-bred 5-year-old gelding by Summer Bird and out of Green Street, by Street Cry, made his first 14 starts in California for trainer Peter Eurton before being purchased last summer by Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi and brought to Dubai.

“We were looking in the States for a horse all summer and couldn’t find anything,” said Watson, whose horses swept the top three placings in this race a year ago. “He came up, and we all liked him and got him here.”

Second Summer made his Dubai debut Feb. 2 and finished a strong second, beaten a nose, in Round 2 of the Al Maktoum Challenge, giving his connections hope that they had a Dubai World Cup horse. But those hopes were dashed when Second Summer returned to run seventh in Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge, coming out of the race with a wrenched ankle.

“We were thinking he would win the third leg and maybe get to the World Cup, but he just didn’t want to run the last time,” Watson said. “Once that happened, we thought we’d turn back and try the Godolphin Mile.” 

Under Pat Dobbs, Second Summer settled near the back of the field as North America, one of the favorites, zipped out to the lead, pressed hard through a taxing pace by Heavy Metal. Sharp Azteca put the top two away as all the front-runners began slowing with more than a quarter-mile to go, but he, too, wearied due to his early exertions and was a sitting duck when the closers came calling.

Dobbs appeared to aim for an outside run, then had to dive inside as Sharp Azteca drifted, but he still was able to outrun Ross, who ran the race of his life Saturday.

The winning time for the 1,600 meters (about one mile) was 1:35.76, just off the track record. Fitzgerald finished fourth, with Heavy Metal fading to eighth and North America to 10th. Stormardal appeared to go wrong about 300 meters from the finish, but no report was immediately available on his condition.

Second Summer will have a second chance at the World Cup Carnival next season, and if things go well, a year from now he might wind up in the main event.

“Maybe next year the World Cup,” Watson said. “He’s a nice horse.”