01/08/2015 5:04PM

Surfer relishes Meydan's new dirt track

Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins
Surfer, ridden by Richard Mullen, wins Round 1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge.

Surfer confirmed his fondness for the new dirt track at Meydan Racecourse with a 2 1/4-length win over Frankyfourfingers in Round 1 of the  Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge on Thursday's opening of the Dubai World Cup Carnival.

The 6-year-old Surfer, an American-bred son of Distorted Humor trained by Satish Seemar, is spending his fourth winter racing in Dubai, but for the first three of those campaigns, his starts at Meydan came over the track’s original all-weather racing surface, and Surfer appears to prefer dirt.

He won the Dubai Creek Handicap in December at Meydan, and on Thursday at least ran back to and probably exceeded that form in the opening round of the $250,000 Al Maktoum Challenge. Breaking from post 1 under Richard Mullen, Surfer was urged to hold forward position while maintain his spot along the fence through a moderate early pace. Things got tight a couple times, with Surfer coming close to being sawed off, but eventually he and Mullen pushed past pacesetting Mashaaref, took the lead into the homestretch, and ran on stoutly to comfortably hold clear a challenge from longshot Frankyfourfingers.

Winning time for the 1,600 meters (about one mile) on a fast track was 1:38.218. Haatheq finished third, while well-regarded Outstrip struggled home 11th in his dirt debut.

While Outstrip disappointed, his owner, Godolphin, still won three of the six Thoroughbred races on the card, including a sharp win in the $150,000 Singpiel Stakes from True Story. The 4r-year-old True Story, racing for the first time as a gelding while making his Dubai debut, got a lovely pace-pressing trip under James Doyle, taking command of the race in upper stretch and going on to a 3 ¼-length win over Mushreq, who had won the Singspiel, a turf race over about nine furlongs, a year ago. True Story, a son of Maduro, was timed in 1:48.796 over firm going.