03/26/2016 8:43AM

Vazirabad by a neck in Dubai Gold Cup

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Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club
Vazirabad and jockey Christophe Soumillon win the Dubai Gold Cup on Saturday.

Marathon races come naturally for Vazirabad.

On Saturday in the $1 million Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan Racecourse, Vazirabad extended his winning streak to six races with a hard-fought win in the Group 2 race at two miles. The Dubai Gold Cup was Vazirabad’s first start outside of France and the longest race of his career.

The 4-year-old gelding overcame a troubled flight from France earlier in the week and a slow start to win the richest race of his eight-race career.

Ridden by Christophe Soumillon, Vazirabad broke slowly and raced toward the back of a field of 11 for the first 1 1/2 miles. Certerach and Big Orange raced at the front, clear of the chasing pack for the first mile, before the field began to draw closer together in the last half-mile.

Soumillon guided Vazirabad to the outside of rivals on the turn and moved into contention with a wide rally in early stretch. Big Orange, who finished fifth in the Melbourne Cup in Australia last November, took the lead in early stretch but was challenged on his outside by Vazirabad. Through the final furlong, Vazirabad had the better of Big Orange, finishing a neck in front of his rival.

“His main quality is that he has a big turn of foot, and we’re not afraid to use it,” said winning trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre. “He was a little tired at the end; perhaps he came too soon.”

Big Orange finished 4 3/4 lengths in front of Haafaguinea, who was followed by Suegioo, Meadow Creek, Manatee, Tellina, Neo Black Dia, Star Empire, Certerach and Paradise. There were no American-based runners or American-bred runners in the field.

Prior to the race, de Royer-Dupre said that Vazirabad was unsettled for part of the flight to Dubai earlier this week and sustained cuts on his head.

Vazirabad races for the Aga Khan. By Manduro, Vazirabad has won 6 of 8 starts and earned $1,024,025. His six-race winning streak includes four group stakes, most notably the Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak at 1 15/16 miles at Saint-Cloud last October. Earlier that month, Vazirabad won the Group 2 Prix Chaudenay at 1 7/8 miles at Longchamp on the weekend of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.