03/28/2015 10:08AM

Tamarkuz by a nose in Godolphin Mile; Brown Panther dominates Gold Cup

Dubai Racing Club/Neville Hopwood
Brown Panther and jockey Richard Kingscote cruise to victory Saturday in the Dubai Gold Cup.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Tamarkuz shuffled his feet and rocked back on his heels, and the starter at Meydan sprang the gates. The favorite for the Godolphin Mile, drawn in post 1, had missed the break, and, one assumed, all was lost.

Tamarkuz had led or pressed the pace in winning three straight races here this winter, a form transformation occasioned by a switch to dirt, but there is more to Tamarkuz than speed and good fortune. Moving up steadily along the inside under jockey Paul Hanagan, he pushed on and on while stuck between horses in the homestretch and won the $1 million Godolphin Mile by a nose over Sloane Avenue.

“As long as you don’t panic, what will be will be,” Hanagan said of his unfortunate beginning.

Even with Tamarkuz out of the pace picture, and the speedy American Bradester failing to ever get into the race, the pace of the Godolphin Mile was fast – the fastest mile of this meet, in fact. Frankyfourfingers towed the 15-strong field into the homestretch, weakened, and was swept under by chasers and closers. Sloane Avenue, marooned in post 14, was charging on the outside, but Tarmarkuz, by a slim margin, seemed to be going the best of the group, and was.

The two had 1 1/2 lengths on third-place Free Wheeling, with Haatheq fourth and Frankyfourfingers fifth. The winning time for the 1,600 meters on a fast track was 1:36.81. The three American horses in the field had no say in the first World Cup dirt race since Well Armed won the 2009 World Cup. Prayer for Relief finished eighth, Quadrivium was 11th, and Bradester 13th.

First-year trainer Musabah al Muhairi trains Tamarkuz for Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum, who also won the card-opening Kahayla Classic with Manark. Tamarkuz, by Speightsown  and out of Without You Babe, was bred in the U.S. by John Gunther.

Brown Panther dominates Gold Cup

Brown Panther loves a big course and a strong gallop, got both Saturday evening in the $1 million Dubai Gold Cup, and impressively won the race under Richard Kingscote. His time of 3:18.84 for about two miles on good turf was easily a course record.

Away alertly from post 14, Brown Panther chased the pacesetting Mushreq through fractions well quicker than par for the distance, but when Kingscote asked for run turning into the homestretch, Brown Panther accelerated immediately and put several lengths on the field. No one got close to him, Brown Panther skipping home a 3 1/4-length winner over Star Empire, with Ahzeemah another nose back in third.

Trained by Tom Dascombe, a former assistant to trainer Mike de Kock, Brown Panther was making his first start since finishing 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, a race in which he was not originally intended to start, landing there after he ran off before the Canadian International at Woodbine weeks before and had to be scratched.

The tight Santa Anita course was all wrong for Brown Panther, a long horse with a big stride, but the more forgiving bends here at Meydan were perfect, and Brown Panther made his 2-1 odds in North American betting look like a gift.

A 7-year-old by Shirocco, Brown Panther won for the 11th time in 26 starts – and this was the biggest of them.