Street Cry repaid his owner Sheikh Mohammed's faith with a stunning victory in last night's $6m (£4.2m) Dubai World Cup. The four-year-old colt, ridden by American jockey Jerry Bailey, whipped up a sandstorm in the straight at Nad Al Sheba as he streaked four-and- a-quarter lengths clear of Saudi Arabian outsider Sei Mi, with his Saeed Bin Suroor stablemate Sakhee, the best horse on the globe last year, a flat third the same distance away.
A year ago, Street Cry, who had been a high-class juvenile, was a live Kentucky Derby candidate for Godolphin. Injury robbed him of his chance at Churchill Downs, but he proved his ability and his affinity with a dirt surface with a wide-margin victory in a minor race over the ten-furlong World Cup course and distance last month. And his success in the seventh running of the world's richest race was considerable consolation for the eclipse of Sakhee, winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and beaten a nose in the Breeders' Cup Turf last autumn.
"We are elated with Street Cry as we have always believed he had tremendous potential," Godolphin's racing manager, Simon Crisford, said. "He's top, top class. Obviously, we are disappointed for Sakhee, as he's a brilliant horse, though he's probably a bit better on turf. But we always put our best horses against each other and we have to do that to find out who the special ones are."
The hometown victory gave the Maktoum family their fourth success in seven runnings of the race that is Sheikh Mohammed's brainchild, after Singspiel, Almutawakel and Dubai Millennium; the last two sent out, like last night's hero, by Bin Suroor. Street Cry provided Bailey, too, with his fourth win, following the first two runnings on Cigar and Singspiel and last year's on Captain Steve.
Last night under the floodlights, the sole US challenger Western Pride set a furious gallop from the Japanese raider, To The Victory, with both Street Cry and Sakhee, Frankie Dettori's choice, lying handy. As Sakhee took closer order on the outside, Bailey had a dream run on the rail. "I had planned to park wide myself," he said, "but there was another horse there, and then Frankie, so I thought I'd give him a clear trip and maybe save some ground. When the split came he went through the hole like a good horse and, though he was in front a long way out, he did it really well. On dirt, he'd be as good as they come right now."
But perhaps the most impressive horse on show yesterday was Hamdan Al-Maktoum's Nayef, who gave his owner consolation in advance for Sakhee's defeat as he oozed class with a faultless performance in the Sheema Classic that signalled he will be a horse to be reckoned with at the highest level this year.
The four-year-old, trained by Marcus Tregoning in Lambourn, spent most of the winter in Dubai and had been switched to the turf race, his first over 12 furlongs, from the World Cup only a few days previously. "He had been training on dirt, and when he first worked on grass earlier in the week, my chin was on the floor," said Tregoning, "but he just got better and better."
Nayef has matured into a formidable individual and the prize was his the moment Richard Hills pressed the throttle a quarter of a mile out. Behind him the three-in-a-line battle for second went to Helene Vitality, who inched out Boreal and Godolphin's Marienbard.
First blood went to America, when Gary Stevens swooped late on Grey Memo to take the Godolphin Mile and later made it a double when sprinter Caller One became the first horse to defend a title at the meeting by heading a US clean sweep for the Golden Shaheen. France scored in the Duty Free with Terre A Terre, who beat Godolphin's Noverre and Singapore's Hoeberg.
The Dubai World Cup may be one thing, the Kentucky Derby quite another. Sheikh Mohammed has not yet acquired that particular T-shirt and it is one he especially covets. This year's dream stayed alive when Essence Of Dubai stayed on strongly under a firm Dettori drive to collar another Saudi Arabian horse, Total Impact, close home in the UAE Derby, with two of his Godolphin stablemates, Ibn Al Haitham and Moon Ballad, third and fourth.
Essence Of Dubai, a graduate of the blue team's US nursery, flopped badly when last of 12 behind Johannesburg in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Belmont in October, but since then he has thrived in the winter sun at Al Quoz. "I think we must look at the Kentucky Derby now," was Sheikh Mohammed's initial reaction. "It may have looked as though he was making hard work of it, but that is the way he should be ridden. He likes a target to aim at." As does his owner.Reuse content