03/25/2017 9:00AM

Vazirabad repeats in Dubai Gold Cup

Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins
Vazirabad, ridden by Christophe Soumillon, wins the Dubai Gold Cup by a neck over Beautiful Romance.

The French stayer Vazirabad is very much at home in the Dubai desert.

For the second consecutive year, Vazirabad won the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai on Saturday on the undercard of the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

Ridden by Christophe Soumillon, Vazirabad closed from about ninth in the final three furlongs to win by a neck over the 5-year-old mare Beautiful Romance.  Vazirabad ran about two miles on a yielding turf course in 3:14.76.

“Fortunately for us, the pace was quite good, so I knew we could make [up] some lengths,” Soumillon said.

“I just preferred to stay on the inside and [save] some lengths there. When I came in the straight, I knew he was going to give me a good turn of foot, but I was not really sure I could arrive to take the lead in the end.”

Soumillon said Vazirabad benefited from taking the lead in the final strides “because he can be a bit green in front.”

The race drew a strong field of international distance specialists. Beautiful Romance, the only female in a field of 14, was a Group 2 winner in Australia last November and beat Vazirabad in the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy at 1 3/4 miles at Meydan on Feb. 23, a key prep for the Dubai Gold Cup.

Sheikhzayedroad, an 8-year-old gelding who was a Group 2 winner at Ascot, England, last October, finished third, followed by Big Orange, Zamaam, Wall of Fire, Rembrandt Van Rijn, Basateen, Quest for More, Famous Kid, Heartbreak City, Quechua, Trip to Paris, and Kingfisher.

There were no American-based runners in the field.

Vazirabad, a 5-year-old gelding by Manduro, races for the Aga Khan and trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre. Vazirabad has won 10 of 15 starts, including eight group stakes. Earlier in his career, he won seven consecutive races. In October 2015 and again last year, Vaziribad ended his French campaigns with wins in the Group 1 Prix Royal Oak at just less than two miles at Saint-Cloud Racecourse in Paris.

– additional reporting by Marcus Hersh