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Sparkman: Dubawi rules Dubai
For more than five years, there has been no doubt that Galileo is the best sire in Europe and indeed the world. Dubai World Cup day, though, highlighted the stallion many consider the second best in Europe, Dubawi, who sired his second World Cup winner in Prince Bishop and was the only stallion to have two winners on the day.
Prince Bishop’s surprise win in the day’s biggest, most valuable race also exemplified the rising influence of Mr. Prospector on the global stage and a trend that is, at the same time, good for racing continuity and somewhat troubling for commercial implications of racing in Dubai. Prince Bishop is an 8-year-old gelding who was running in the World Cup for the fourth time, and he was not the only 8-year-old to win a prestigious Group 1 race at Meydan on March 28. Sabena Power’s evergreen four-time English Group 1-winning sprinter Sole Power, an 8-year-old gelding by Kyllachy, captured the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint with his typical late surge.
In fact, six of the eight World Cup day races were won by 5-year-olds or older, and one of the other two races was the Group 2 United Arab Emirates Derby, which is restricted to 3-year-olds. Dolniya, winner of the Group 1 Sheema Classic, was the lone 4-year-old winner on the day.
The reappearance of high-class racehorses – usually geldings like both 8-year-old winners – year after year is good for horse racing in many ways. Those horses tend to become fan favorites who help racecourse attendance and attract sentimental bets. From a commercial point of view, however, suffice it to say that getting beaten by an 8-year-old who never had won a top-level race and who had been beaten in three previous World Cups did no favors for the stud value of either the favored runner-up California Chrome or the third-place Lea. Since the Maktoum family makes a habit of keeping horses like Prince Bishop in training as long as they are sound and willing, that possibility may well make commercially minded owners think twice about sending highly valued stud prospects on the long trip to the Persian Gulf.
Last year, the 7-year-old African Story took the World Cup, and in 2010, the race went to another unheralded 7-year-old, Gloria de Campeao. Both of those races, though, were run on the synthetic Tapeta surface that was replaced by dirt before the current meeting with the obvious purpose of reversing that trend and attracting top American runners again. As happy as the Maktoum family would have been to win their emirate’s most prestigious event once again, that joy is bound to be tempered by the realization that for the future of the race, a victory for California Chrome would have been far more propitious.
Prince Bishop’s World Cup win was one of four on the day for the male line of Mr. Prospector, one more than for the Northern Dancer male line that generally dominates international racing. In addition to the victories of Dubawi’s sons, Prince Bishop in the World Cup and the Kentucky Derby-bound Mubtaahij in the UAE Derby, Tamarkuz, by Speightstown, won the Group 2 Godolphin Mile, and Secret Circle, by Eddington, added the Group 1 Golden Shaheen to his victory in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Although the Mr. Prospector male line has been gaining on Northern Dancer pretty steadily in North America for the last 20 years or so, for most of that period, Mr. Prospector’s only really important representative in Europe was his 1989 high-weighted French 2-year-old, Machiavellian. When Seeking the Gold’s great son Dubai Millennium, winner of the World Cup in 2000, retired to stud the following year, he seemed likely to expand Mr. Prospector’s influence across the Atlantic, but when he died after only one season at stud, odds against that happening rose dramatically.
Dubawi, out of the Italian Oaks winner and European highweight Zomaradah, by Deploy, was easily the best of the five stakes winners among Dubai Millennium’s 56 foals, winning the Group 1 National Stakes at The Curragh as a 2-year-old and the Irish 2000 Guineas and Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois as a 3-year-old. Those Group 1 victories were at around a mile or less, but Dubawi also stayed well enough to run third in the 2005 Epsom Derby behind winner Motivator.
Dubawi clearly possessed sufficient credentials to retire to stud at his breeder Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Dalham Hall Stud in 2006 at a fee of 25,000 pounds (about $43,000), but not many breeders expected him to become one of Europe’s top sires. His first crop included the 2000 Guineas winner and champion European 3-year-old colt Makfi (Dhelaal, by Green Desert), the two-time Hong Kong champion sprinter Lucky Nine (out of Birjand, by Green Desert), the 2012 Dubai World Cup winner Monterosso (Porto Roca, by Barathea), the Italian Derby winner Worthadd (Wigman, by Rahy), the Australian Group 1 winners Secret Admirer (Secret Illusion, by Secret Savings) and Tiger Tees (Parfore, by Gold Brose), the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes winner Dubawi Heights (Rosie’s Posey, by Suave Dancer), and the Group 1 winners Poet’s Voice (Bright Tiara, by Chief’s Crown) and Happy Archer (So Tempted, by Jeune).
Dubawi has maintained that impressive rate of siring top racehorses in subsequent crops, and his 93 stakes winners from 837 foals age 3 and up (11 percent) also include the European highweight Al Kazeem (Kazeem, by Darshaan); Night of Thunder (Forest Storm, by Galileo), who defeated both Kingman and Australia in last year’s 2000 Guineas; the multiple Australian Group 2 winner Catkins (Salix Caprea, by Catbird), who won her third group race of the year on World Cup Day in Australia; and the 2011 German Derby winner Waldpark (Wurftaube, by Acatenango).
Makfi already has shown that Dubawi also may turn out to be a sire of sires, since he has sired the French stakes winner Cornwallville in his first crop of European 2-year-olds and New Zealand Group 1 winner Marky Mark in his first crop in the Antipodes.
As a gelding, of course, Prince Bishop, who is the only stakes winner out of North East Bay, by Prospect Bay, will have no chance at a stud career, but that may not be the case for Dubawi’s UAE Derby winner, Mubtaahij. The Kentucky Derby-bound colt is the third stakes winner from nine foals out of the Pennekamp mare Pennegale, whose third foal, Lily of the Valley, by Galileo, was named champion European 3-year-old filly in 2010 following her victory in the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera.
Pennegale is a half-sister to the stakes winner Common Spirit, by Common Grounds, and her dam, Gale Warning, by Last Tycoon, is a half-sister to three more, but it is not a family that one would necessarily expect to produce top-class horses like Lily of the Valley and Mubtaahij.
That is the kind of effect stallions as good as Galileo and Dubawi regularly have, so it should be no surprise when top winners emerge from unlikely sources.
It also is not surprising that the four victories by Mr. Prospector-line horses all came on Meydan’s new dirt surface, while Northern Dancer-line horses won three of the four turf races, the one exception being the 3,200-meter Dubai Gold Cup, which was won by the English-trained 7-year-old Brown Panther, by Shirocco. The latter’s sire, the late, great Monsun, has single-handedly revived the dying male line of Blandford, once represented in North America by such top stallions as Blenheim II, Mahmoud, and The Axe II.
The most impressive victory for Northern Dancer was the professional dismissal of the perennial bridesmaid Flintshire by the Aga Khan’s Dolniya in the Sheema Classic. Dolniya (out of Daltama, by Indian Ridge) probably is the best horse sired to date by Azamour, the best son of Northern Dancer’s non-stakes-winning son Night Shift. Winner of the 2005 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Azamour has sired 29 stakes winners from 461 foals age 3 and up (6 percent), including the lightly raced 2012 French Oaks winner Valyra.
Had California Chrome been good enough, he would have won. I would imagine seeming how well he did will encourage the top horses to ship next year.