Saturday’s $6 million Dubai Turf (G1) appeared virtually anyone’s race on paper, and the result reflected that openness as the 13-1 Vivlos got up to defeat the 28-1 Heshem over a yielding Meydan course.
Trained by Yasuo Tomomichi for Kazuhiro Sasaki, Vivlos became the fourth female to prevail in this spot, joining Terre a Terre (2002), Ipi Tombe (2003) and Sajjhaa (2013). She’s also the fourth Japanese winner, after Admire Moon (2007), Just a Way (2014) and Real Steel (2016) (who was scratched from his title defense after a bleeding episode).
Vivlos, a daughter of Deep Impact, was patiently handled by new pilot Joao Moreira, who maneuvered her off the inside and altered course in the stretch. Meanwhile, Godolphin’s Ribchester had taken over from the weakening Very Special and tried to see out the about nine-furlong trip for the first time. France’s Heshem took off and collared him, only to have Vivlos follow in his wake. Uncorking a furious charge in deep stretch, Vivlos forged a half-length ahead, with Ribchester the same margin away in third.
Zarak, the 9-5 favorite, was a one-paced fourth. Mutakayyef couldn’t quicken on the ground in fifth, and Jebel Hatta (G1) winner Decorated Knight trudged home sixth. Deauville, another not in love with conditions, was best of Aidan O’Brien’s trio in seventh. Very Special folded to 10th, and Mondialiste crossed the wire 11th of 13.
Vivlos’ prior stakes success came in last fall’s Shuka Sho (G1), the final jewel of Japan’s Filly Triple Crown. She was most recently fifth to high-class male Neorealism in the Nakayama Kinen (G2), he same stepping stone to the Dubai Turf for Just a Way and Real Steel. Full sister Verxina, who placed to Gentildonna throughout Japan’s Filly Triple Crown, went on to win the 2013-14 editions of the Victoria Mile (G1).
Quotes from Dubai Racing Club
Winning rider Joao Moreira on Vivlos: “She was brilliant. From the time that I sat on top of her on Friday, she gave me the feel that she was going to be very competitive. She was probably one of the lightest horses in the race. If the ground was soft, which is probably what the people were thinking about, she wasn’t sinking in the most. I think that is why she was able to let down and was able to get there.
“Good horses make a jockey’s life easier. She made the job very easy for me today.
“We were travelling nice and when I took her out and she had daylight, she was strong to the line. And got it done. So thank you to the connections, owner, trainer and all those who got me on top of her today.”
Trainer Yasuo Tomomichi: “She travelled very well from Japan and she was very relaxed in Dubai. She relaxed again in the back of the field and quickened very well. It kept raining but the ground wasn’t too soft, which suited her.”
Jockey Gregory Benoist on runner-up Heshem: “For half of the home straight I thought I was going to win easily but the rain has affected the ground and that doesn’t suit him. If it had been good ground we would have won but for him that is still a career best finishing second.”
Jockey William Buick on third-placer Ribchester: “On that run you can’t say that he didn’t stay the distance. You’d have to be pleased with him as he will improve for this and it opens a few more doors.”
Jockey Christophe Soumillon on Zarak, fourth as the favorite: “He checked at one point and he didn’t accelerate like he did last time. I don’t think the ground was an excuse. He handled that type of ground before. I was disappointed because I thought he would give me a better turn of foot.”