03/30/2007 11:00PM

Vengeance of Rain gets trip in Sheema Classic


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Hong Kong, where racing has a huge following, had never won a race on Dubai World Cup Night, and Vengeance of Rain had never before started in a race outside Hong Kong since being privately purchased early in his career. But Vengeance of Rain carried his form from the Far East to the Middle East and won an outstanding running of the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic by 1 1/4 lengths.

With 14 horses in the race, a good trip would be paramount for the winner, and Vengeance of Rain got one. Jockey Anthony Delpech, a former Nad Al Sheba regular, saved ground while waiting in the second flight of horses for most of the race. Midstretch, when things began getting serious, he swung to the outside and let his horse do the rest.

"When I hit the front, it was going to take something really good to beat me," Delpech said.

There were all kinds of stars giving chase, and none of them really got close. Sir Percy, the Epsom Derby winner, ran decently finishing fourth, but never really threatened the winner. Breeders' Cup Turf winner Red Rocks got a decent trip under Corey Nakatani, but didn't produce the necessary finish, checking in ninth.

"There wasn't a lot of pace, but if I let him run out, he's going to move too soon," Nakatani said.

Indeed, you could see virtually all the riders taking strong holds as the field left the gate in front of the Nad Al Sheba stands and began their journey in the 2400-meter (or about 12 furlongs) turf race. Best Alibi quickly went clear, but was pulling hard under Frankie Dettori, and wound up fading badly. Quijano, the German horse whose 10 straight wins included three in a row at Nad Al Sheba this winter, had perfect position just behind the leader, and was the first to make his move, taking the lead inside the final quarter-mile. But soon he was swallowed by a host of closers. Vengeance of Rain, tipped three paths wide, proved the best of them, completing the distance in 2:31.03. Oracle West finished second for trainer Mike de Kock, Youmzain third. Americans got nothing in the Sheema, with Honey Ryder 11th, Host 12th, and Obrigado 13th.

Seven-year-old Vengeance of Rain made the first few starts of his career in Australia where he ran under the name Subscribe, but hadn't raced away from home since being purchased by Hong Kong interests. Trainer David Ferraris, a transplanted South African, said he had no qualms about taking New Zealand-bred Vengeance of Rain on the road for the first time. "He's gone to New Zealand to [rest], and he was an absolute gentleman traveling," Ferraris said. "We have big crowds at home, so this was nothing for him. The only thing was the fireworks they set off."

In the end, it was Vengeance of Rain who proved explosive.