03/26/2011 1:50PM

Sheema Classic belongs to fresh Rewilding; Godolphin scores third win of night

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Andrew Watkins
Frankie Dettori encourages Rewilding to the finish of the $5 million Sheema Classic.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Rewilding hadn’t raced since last Sept. 11 in England, when he finished sixth in the Group 1 St. Leger Stakes, but the sleek, glossy 4-year-old colt who stepped onto the Meydan turf course for the $5 million Sheema Classic looked anything but rusty. And was he was not.

With a powerful burst about a furlong from the finish, Rewilding took the starch out of his 13 rivals in the Sheema, running off to a 3 1/4-length victory in grand style. His time of 2:29.01 for about 1 1/2 miles on good-firm turf set a new course record.

Rewilding’s long break between starts came about by design. In fact, it was Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum himself who directed trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni to bring Rewilding into World Cup night off Dubai training alone.

“His Highness decided not to race him during the Carnival,” said Al Zarooni, who became a head trainer about one year ago after serving for several years as an assistant to several Dubai-based trainers.

“This horse, he has to be fresh,” Al Zarooni continued. “You have to deal with him like a filly. He’s very athletic.”

A son of Tiger Hill, Rewilding’s biggest previous win had come in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes. This was his fourth win from eight starts. Plans for the upcoming European season haven’t been determined, Al Zarooni said. Rewilding’s victory was the third on the evening for Godolphin.

The Sheema was a roughly run race, with Calvados Blues tripping on heels a third of the way into the race, and other horses finding trouble down the backstretch run. Laaheb set a moderate pace for 800 meters, 51.73 seconds, and there was a scrum around the far turn as the horses with run tried to establish position. Jockey Frankie Dettori, winning his second on the night, kept Rewilding in behind the lead group, following Redwood into the stretch, and rallying wide around that rival for his winning run.

Redwood stayed on well for second, and was followed by Calvados Blues, Laaheb, and Chinchon.

Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Dangerous Midge pressed the early pace, but came under a ride a half-mile from the finish and dropped out to last. The two Americans also ran poorly, with Champ Pegasus 12th and Bourbon Bay 11th.