Certify cruises in Cape Verdi comeback; Mujaarib surprises
in Al Rashidiya
Godolphin’s unbeaten champion Certify returned from a 16-month layoff in
Thursday’s Group 2, $200,000 Cape Verdi, and looked as if she had never been
away when cruising to victory in near course-record time. Successful comebacks
were the theme of the day at Meydan. Later on the card, South African shipper
Mujaarib made light of an eight-month holiday to upset stablemate Mushreq in the
Group 2, $200,000 Al Rashidiya, exceeding trainer Mike de Kock’s expectations.
Certify had not been seen since her stellar 2012 campaign. Honored as that
season’s Europe’s highweight juvenile filly, the daughter of Elusive Quality
swept the Sweet Solera, May Hill and the Fillies’ Mile, and loomed as the
antepost favorite for the One Thousand Guineas. But she never had a chance to
line up at Newmarket. One of 22 horses given anabolic steroids by trainer
Mahmood al Zarooni, she was banned for six months, effectively grounding her the
duration of 2013.
The now four-year-old Certify is looking to make up for lost time, and she
certainly got off to a smashing start for new trainer Charlie Appleby here.
Godolphin’s other runner, the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Shuruq, went forward to
set the pace, stalked by Flotilla and Mensoora. L’Amour de Ma Vie was parked in
fourth, while Certify was settled in fifth, with only the slow-starting Pearl of
Africa behind her.
As L’Amour de Ma Vie rolled up to challenge Shuruq in the stretch, and
Flotilla and Mensoora failed to pick up, Certify was simply cantering all over
them. Under a motionless Mickael Barzalona, she effortlessly strode past to
extend her perfect record to five-for-five. Certify sped the metric mile on the
good turf in 1:36.09, just off the course mark of 1:36.
“We always thought she was very good,” Appleby said, “and she did that in the
style of a classy filly. It is great to see she retains that ability she showed
“Hopefully, she can go on to justify the ultra high regard in which we have
always held her.”
L’Amour de Ma Vie, whose most notable result had been a score in the Prix
Miss Satamixa over Deauville’s Polytrack December 29, ran the race of her life.
Not only was she beaten a measured three-quarters of a length by Certify, but
she also drew 4 3/4 lengths clear of the remainder.
Pearl of Africa got up for third. Flotilla, the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Fillies Turf and 2013 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French One Thousand Guineas)
heroine, disappointed in fourth. South Africa’s Mensoora checked in fifth in her
Dubai debut, an effort that she’s entitled to build on for de Kock. Shuruq, who
was coming off a victory over males in the Maktoum Challenge Round 1 on Tapeta,
did not run up to that level in this spot. Arguably better on synthetic in any
event, her pacesetting tactics likewise didn’t put her in the best light.
Bred by Hurstland Farm, William Kartozian and Darley in Kentucky, Certify
brought only $80,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. She is out of the
multiple Grade 3-placed stakes winner Please Sign In, a Doc’s Leader mare who is
also responsible for Grade 1 victress Cry and Catch Me.
This is the family of French highweight Suave Dancer, hero of the 1991 Prix
de l’Arc de Triomphe, Irish Champion and Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby);
Italian highweight Suave Tern; Australian/New Zealand Group 1 star Zavite;
German co-champion filly Shicklah; multiple stakes-winning sire Northfields; and
champion miler and noted sire Habitat.
Certify’s next objective could come in the February 20 Balanchine over an
extra furlong at Meydan.
While Sheikh Hamdan’s homebred Mujaarib wasn’t absent as long as Certify, the
Group 2 winner had endured the trek from South Africa, and presumably stood to
benefit from this tightener. Stablemate Mushreq, on the other hand, was already
in sharp form. Now on his second Dubai Carnival, he was exiting a winning
reappearance in the January 9 Singspiel.
Dane O’Neill accordingly stuck with Mushreq, who sported Sheikh Hamdan’s
first colors, and Christophe Soumillon picked up the mount aboard secondary hope
There was a false start in the Al Rashidiya, for the stalls did not all open
simultaneously. The field was quickly summoned back to the gate for another try,
and the runners were sent away in fine order on the second attempt.
Godolphin’s Maputo carved out the pace, with fellow Appleby pupil Steeler
tracking and eventually prompting from the rail. Those two continued to mix it
up until the stretch, when Mujaarib produced a sparkling turn of foot to strike
Then Mushreq speared through a seam and nearly nabbed Mujaarib. But the
outsider held on by a neck, topping the all-Sheikh Hamdan exacta in a final time
of 1:48 1/5 for about nine grassy furlongs. Mujaarib was also giving de Kock his
sixth Al Rashidiya trophy, and third in a row.
“I was pretty hopeful my fellow would run well,” Soumillon said, “as he has
been working nicely enough, but I did not think we could beat Mushreq.
“When we saw daylight he really quickened, but he was tiring, so the post
appeared just in time.”
Another two lengths adrift came Maputo, who salvaged third by a neck from
Dastarhon. Steeler reported home another head back in fifth, followed by
Educate, Tales of Grimm, Van Rooney, the filly Tasaday, Trade Storm, Zambucca
and Brendan Brackan.
Mujaarib improved his scorecard to10-5-0-2. Bred by Shadwell Stud
Australasia, the son of Nadeem won his first four career starts in South Africa,
capped by the Charity Mile at Turffontein on November 3, 2012. Mujaarib promptly
dropped his remaining five outings, but he wasn’t disgraced in Group 1 company.
A close third to Slumdogmillionaire in the 2013 Horse Chestnut, he was seventh
to Heavy Metal in the President’s Champion Challenge. Mujaarib concluded his
South African career with a fourth to Variety Club at Greyville last May 22.
Out of the winning Lahib mare Mihnah, Mujaarib is a half-brother to the
multiple English stakes-placed Tahtheeb. He hails from the immediate family of
Grade 2 victress Girl Warrior and Group 3 queen Ranin. Further back, one finds
Grade/Group 1 winners Sisterhood and Natski; 2001 Breeders’ Cup ile hero Val
Royal; and French classic-winning highweight Vahorimix.
Mujaarib was the second half of a double for de Kock and Soumillon, who one
race earlier combined to take a Tapeta handicap with Zahee. Not seen since
finishing sixth in last year’s U.A.E. Derby, Zahee rallied smoothly to overtake
Gold City by a length. Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum’s colorbearer
completed about seven furlongs in 1:24 3/5, advancing his line to 10-4-2-1.
“He traveled nicely and, once we found racing room, picked up well,”
Soumillon said. “He has run on strongly which was pleasing considering we
thought he would need the run.
“I am not sure how good a race it was, but he might be able to build on
Zahee won three of five starts in Australia for original trainer Mick Price,
faring best of all at country tracks. The New Zealand-bred son of Dylan Thomas
joined de Kock for the 2013 Carnival, and performed creditably in the U.A.E.
classics. Third to Soft Falling Rain in the U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas, Zahee
was runner-up to Secret Number in the Al Bastakiya before finishing midfield in
the U.A.E. Derby.
Barzalona racked up a double of his own by guiding Saxo Jack in the nightcap,
an about 1 1/4-mile handicap on turf. Owned by Sheikh Juma bin Dalmook al
Maktoum, the son of King’s Best drove to a half-length decision over Haafaguinea,
his stablemate from the bin Suroor yard, and clocked 2:01 4/5.
Both were coming out of the same January 16 handicap on Tapeta, won in
slashing style by Cat O’Mountain. Haafaguinea played second fiddle that day, and
Saxo Jack was sixth, in their mutual debut for bin Suroor. The pair had also met
in their prior start last fall, when in the care of their previous trainers.
Haafaguinea captured that September 21 handicap at Newbury for Clive Cox, while
Saxo Jack was a troubled fourth in his final outing for Ger Lyons. Finally
getting the better of his familiar foe here, Saxo Jack has compiled a 7-3-1-0
In the evening’s opener, Saudi invader Alsaaeqah sprang a shock in her turf
debut, handing King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and sons their first-ever winner in
the United Arab Emirates. The seven-year-old Dynever mare couldn’t go the pace
early on in the turf dash, but fired late to grab a last-stride verdict, and
denied Norway’s Beat Baby a gutsy wire job. Alsaaeqah, who was receiving four
pounds from 132-pound highweight Beat Baby, reeled off about five furlongs in
“I thought we had just made it in time,” winning rider William Buick said,
“but you can never be too confident when it’s that tight.
“It is a strong yard,” Buick added of her trainer Bader al Shaibani, “so I
was hopeful, and she has done well to make a winning turf debut in a strong heat
Aside from the surface question, Alsaaeqah has also spent her career racing
over farther than this minimum trip. She was most recently a 7 1/2-length winner
going about seven furlongs at King Abdulaziz Racecourse, and her resume reads
Carnival regular Ottoman Empire got the jump on String Theory in the about 1
3/16-mile Tapeta handicap, and gallantly held him off down the length of the
stretch. Well handled by Richard Mullen, Ahmad al Shaikh’s eight-year-old
veteran edged one length clear and stopped the teletimer in 1:58 4/5.
Ottoman Empire is on his third Carnival. But unlike the past two years when
trained by David Simcock, he now qualifies as a local, having transferred to
Satish Seemar. The Pivotal gelding, who was third in a course-and-distance event
on January 9, brandishes a line of 26-6-4-3.
“He is a tough horse who needed his first run three weeks ago,” Mullen said,
“and he has shown a great attitude there. He is just so brave.”
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