September 19, 2021

Mystic Guide triumphs for Godolphin in 25th Dubai World Cup

Mystic Guide
Mystic Guide wins the Dubai World Cup (Photo by Coady Photography)

Mystic Guide celebrated Saturday’s silver anniversary edition of the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) by padding the historical stats for Godolphin and for American shippers. But the 8-5 favorite stands alone in embodying both key angles in the World Cup, as the first of Godolphin’s record nine winners to be based in the United States.

Trainer Michael Stidham’s first runner outside of North America, Mystic Guide worked out a perfect trip courtesy of Luis Saez. That came as a relief, to connections and backers alike, considering the eventful pre-race antics of two of his rivals who ended up being scratched.

Great Scot delayed proceedings by getting loose in the post parade and running free for quite some time. Once he was caught, and nearly all of the field loaded, the hitherto well-behaved Military Law escaped from the gate and ran off. Again there was a delay as most had to be backed out, circled behind, and reloaded, with 12 set instead of the original 14.

By that point, Mystic Guide wanted to get on with business. The homebred son of Hall of Famer Ghostzapper and five-time Grade 1 winning A.P. Indy mare Music Note broke in good order and secured early position in third.

Hypothetical sped to the lead from his stablemate Capezzano, and the Salem bin Ghadayer duo showed the way down the backstretch. As Capezzano began to fade nearing the far turn, Mystic Guide advanced and appeared to have more in reserve than Hypothetical upon straightening.

Asserting in midstretch, Mystic Guide drew away by 3 3/4 lengths to become the 12th American-trained winner in 25 runnings. The chestnut finished about 1 1/4 miles in a brisk 2:01.61, just off the track record of 2:01.38 set by Thunder Snow in his first World Cup (2018).

Japan’s Chuwa Wizard, who also stalked early on the inside, stayed on dourly to take runner-up honors. Godolphin’s French representative, Magny Cours, rallied smartly from off the pace for third in his dirt debut. Hypothetical tired late in fourth, followed by Salute the Soldier, Jesus’ Team, Thegreatcollection, Ajuste Fiscal, Gifts of Gold, Sleepy Eyes Todd, Title Ready, and Capezzano.

Stidham noted that the World Cup meeting was taking place amid Dubai’s mourning of Sheikh Hamdan, Sheikh Mohammed’s brother, who passed away Wednesday.

“I want to start by giving my condolences on the passing of Sheikh Hamdan,” Stidham said. “This was a special night. You’re seeing 40 years of emotions right now.

“He was a little nervous before the race and in the post-parade, but he does that sometimes and I wasn’t too worried. He is just a very talented horse and it is amazing to win this race. I can’t believe it.

“I am so happy to be here and the horse performed to his capability,” Stidham added. “It’s a beautiful thing. He was getting antsy in the parade ring and then with a loose horse it made it more difficult, then we had to load a couple times. It was a little scary at the start but he stayed relaxed.

“All that added to the concerns. He gets a little tough and doesn’t like being restrained a lot. I saddled him outside the stall because he was getting a little antsy in the stall. With all of that that went on, I was really concerned, like I said, but he overcame it.

“I got a good feeling when I saw him lying in third on the backside then down the lane it was amazing.”

“Our plan worked out,” Saez said. “To break well, get a position, and then I knew he would give me that kick at the top of the straight – and he did. I didn’t want to be too far back, and I just asked him turning for home, and he kicked. The plan worked out perfectly. He’s a young horse and last time I rode him (in his Feb. 27 Razorback H. [G3] romp) I knew he was a Group 1 winner.”

Connections of the placegetters were also pleased.

Chuwa Wizard’s rider, Keita Tosaki, could tell he was going to fire.

“While he was waiting for the race he was relaxed, he jumped out very well and could run his race,” Tosaki said. “I knew the winner was traveling nicely on the final turns, but my horse was also moving well, and when the pace picked up he showed his turn of foot. When he breezed over the week, he felt really nice. He ran his race but I want to come back to make revenge.”

Magny Cours was handing trainer Andre Fabre his best World Cup result since Loup Sauvage’s third to Silver Charm and Swain in 1998.

“I was delighted,” Fabre said. “He was given the perfect ride by William (Buick). He traveled well, didn’t mind too much kickback and well, I couldn’t be happier with him.”

“He (Magny Cours) ran fantastic,” Buick said. “Mr. Fabre was quite confident of a big run. He handled the kickback very well. He traveled beautifully. Look, the winner was strong, but Magny Cours finished the race really strong and ran a huge race in third.”

Bin Ghadayer observed how quickly Hypothetical has climbed the class ladder.

“The horse arrived in October with a 92 rating and he finished placed fourth in the World Cup, so it was great,” his trainer said. “He’s improving, so in general, I’m very happy from the beginning until now.”

Joel Rosario, who rode Jesus’ Team in sixth, expected him to find more than he did.

“The speed was fine, I got in a good spot. On the backside, I was trying to keep my spot a little bit and he just started grinding,” Rosario said. “He didn’t have that kick. He was fine but I thought he would have had a little more in the end. He tried hard. We’ll go again next time.”

Mystic Guide boosted his bankroll to $7,513,200 from an 8-4-2-2 record. Brought along carefully after his Fair Grounds maiden conquest last March, he made his stakes debut in the rescheduled Peter Pan (G3) at Saratoga, lagged too far back, and rolled too late in third. Mystic Guide was handier in first-time blinkers when scoring his first stakes win in the Jim Dandy (G2). Up in class and trip for the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), he was a solid second to Happy Saver, the sophomore duo pulling clear of Tacitus.

In his reappearance in the Razorback at Oaklawn Park, Mystic Guide announced himself ready for the international stage when splashing home by six lengths. The lightly raced four-year-old should have plenty more to offer back stateside – and maybe even a Dubai title defense next year.

Saez and Stidham recognized the historic occasion.

“Today he proved he is a champion,” Saez said, “and I know he is going to get better and better. What a nice horse, he has all the ability. It’s an honor for me. This was my dream as a little kid, and I can’t believe I’m here now. It’s a dream come true.”

“I’m so proud to be here on the 25th anniversary of the Dubai World Cup for Sheikh Mohammed,” Stidham said, “and the sky’s the limit for this horse. We’d love to come back next year. I’ll know the lay of the land better then!”