Opinion Poll prevails in rescheduled Dubai Gold Cup
But a pall was cast over an otherwise festive atmosphere, and Fox Hunt was not the only casualty. Tragically, the second take of the Dubai Gold Cup resulted in another fatality. Bronze Cannon broke down late on the backstretch and had to be euthanized, according to Racing Post. Godolphin's other entrant, Grand Vent, had been pulled up earlier on the backstretch.
As in the initial Dubai Gold Cup, Makani Bisty set up shop on the front end, and Mikhail Glinka and Irish Flame raced just behind him. Unusual Suspect took over a long way out, but soon faltered. Opinion Poll, a touch farther back this time, crept forward approaching the final turn. French veteran Kasbah Bliss was poised to strike as well, but the 10-year-old couldn't muster the same change of gear.
Quickening clear at the head of the lane, Opinion Poll stamped his authority on the race. Joshua Tree and Zanzamar reduced his margin in deep stretch, but Dettori wrapped up once victory was in the bag.
Opinion Poll covered about two miles in a course-record 3:23 3/5 on the good turf, nearly six seconds faster than the old mark of 3:29 2/5 owned by Sabotage since February 5, 2010. This was the third record to fall on the Meydan turf Saturday, with Cityscape and Cirrus des Aigles also setting new marks in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free and Group 1 Sheema Classic, respectively.
Joshua Tree had three-quarters of a length to spare over Zanzamar, who was a short head in front of fourth-placer Averroes.
"I got a bit held up at the turn," jockey Johnny Murtagh said of his trip aboard Joshua Tree. "It cost me a bit of ground, but Frankie gave his horse a great ride and got first run on us and we could only get close to him at the finish."
Jockey Richard Hills, who was having the final ride of his storied career, was pleased with Zanzamar's effort.
"He ran a cracking race," Hills said. "We weren't sure if he would stay, but he did and there will be more races for him at this sort of distance."
Since Hills will now take on a multifaceted advisory role for Sheikh Hamdan's Shadwell operation, he will likely have a say in future targets.
A one-paced Kasbah Bliss checked in fifth. Next came Irish Flame, Barbican, Unusual Suspect and the distanced pair of Mikhail Glinka and Makani Bisty.
"I was doing really good until that horse (Bronze Cannon) got hurt in front of me," jockey Corey Nakatani said of Unusual Suspect. "When he saw daylight, he made an early move. Unfortunately, these things are going to happen. He couldn't sustain that type of run going (about two miles)."
Opinion Poll's sixth career stakes victory made him a millionaire with $1,515,499 to his credit and improved his line to 24-9-6-5. The son of Halling has accounted for the past two editions of the Group 2 Lonsdale and also took the Group 2 Goodwood Cup last July. Opinion Poll chased home Fame and Glory in both the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup and Group 3 Champions Long Distance Cup, and his other stakes placings include the Group 1 Prix Royal Oak, the Group 2 Doncaster Cup and last year's running of the Dubai Gold Cup (then called the D.R.C. Gold Cup and not held on World Cup night). He returned to action with a fine second to the ill-fated Fox Hunt in the Group 3 Nad al Sheba Trophy on March 1.
"I think we'll target the Ascot Gold Cup in June," Dettori suggested.
Bred by Darley in Ireland, the six-year-old bay is a half-brother to Grade 3 winner Horatia. They were produced by the Grade 2-placed Shirley Heights mare Ahead, herself a full sister to English stakes heroine and noted broodmare Criquette and a half-sister to Group 1-winning sire Markofdistinction.
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