Before Panthalassa capped the day in the Saudi Cup (G1), Japan scored two lucrative wins on the turf at King Abdulaziz Racecourse. Panthalassa’s stablemate Bathrat Leon held on from American hope Casa Creed in the 1351 Turf Sprint (G3), and Silver Sonic landed the $2.5 million Red Sea Turf H. (G3). Great Britain struck a blow with the impressive Mostahdaf in the Neom Turf Cup (G3).
1351 Turf Sprint (G3)
Backers of Casa Creed must have felt a sense of déjà vu, as the Bill Mott veteran just missed to a Japanese runner for the second straight year in this $1.5 million race. Once again, he was gaining fast and late, but the wire came a fraction too soon in the about 6 3/4-furlong dash.
Bathrat Leon proved to be an auspicious sign for the Panthalassa connections. Likewise trained by the international maven Yoshito Yahagi for Hiroo Race Co., Bathrat Leon employed the same aggressive running style to maximum effect. Under Ryusei Sakai, the son of Kizuna hustled early, shook free of attending compatriot Resistencia, and set sail for home. Casa Creed launched his bid out wide, only to find Bathrat Leon’s head still in front in a final time of 1:17.49.
Locally-based Raaed got up for third, a neck up on fellow closer Happy Romance who almost replicated her third-place effort of 2022. Resistencia was relegated to fifth, trailed by Lusail, Rozgar, Garrus, Lauda Sion, a listless defending champion (and favorite) Songline, and Pogo.
“We were a little outpaced when leaving the stalls,” Songline’s rider Christophe Lemaire said, “but we were just behind the second (Casa Creed) who could have taken me a long way if I had the horse. But the mare was never on the bridle and gave me the impression that she was holding back.”
Bathrat Leon, who paid $18.40, has compiled a record of 19-5-0-3 with earnings of $2.6 million. The winner of the 2021 New Zealand Trophy (G2) on the Nakayama turf and the 2022 Godolphin Mile (G2) on the Meydan dirt, he experimented with a cutback in the Dec. 24 Hanshin Cup (G2) and finished an encouraging fourth.
“Even as a trainer, I don’t have the right answer if he is a turf horse or a dirt horse,” said Yahagi, who added that a Godolphin Mile title defense was likely. “I thought Bathrat Leon would suit the turf here and the distance. I think his best is seven furlongs; this is 6 1/2 furlongs.”
Casa Creed’s ideal distance is just beyond the race’s eponymous 1,351 meters.
“He broke from there pretty well and I was in a good position,” jockey Luis Saez said. “I thought we were going to get up to win, but every time the winning horse just kept going and going, and it was too late when we passed him. That’s racing, but I saw the line and I knew I was not in front in time. He tried pretty hard; it’s just the winner was tough to catch. I thought we were going to get him.”
Red Sea Turf H. (G3)
Shadai Racehorse Co.’s Silver Sonic made noise in this first international foray, stalking star comebacker Subjectivist before quickening stylishly and paying $6.10 as the favorite.
The Yasutoshi Ikee charge was well fancied in light of his breakthrough tally in the Dec. 3 Sports Nippon Sho Stayers (G2) at Nakayama. Shortening up from that about 2 1/4-mile test to about 1 7/8 miles here posed no difficulty, especially under his 125-pound impost.
Subjectivist, in contrast, had to tote 137 pounds in his first start back from a potentially career-ending tendon injury, and bettors were wary of relying too heavily on his back class. Racing enthusiastically on the lead as is his custom, he tired down the lane. But Silver Sonic, well placed by Australian ace Damian Lane, burst through to win decisively by 2 1/2 lengths in 3:06.46.
“He began well, which is always important from barrier 1,” Lane said. “I was happy to track Subjectivist, who was always going to set a nice tempo and be a good horse to follow. I needed a bit of luck to get through but once it opened up he finished really well.”
Enemy also finished strongly in second, with Get Shirty spearing through late on the inside to snare third. Next came Big Call; Nate the Great; Sisfahan; Echt; Trawlerman, who tracked Subjectivist but gave way more surprisingly; Pin Your Hopes; My Frankel; Al Qareem; Subjectivist; and Master Gatsby.
“I felt he was keen enough,” Subjectivist’s jockey, Joe Fanning, reported. “He has been off for a while and in the end he just got tired. As long as he’s OK afterwards, I’m sure he’ll be back.”
Silver Sonic’s resume now reads 21-6-3-0 with approximately $3 million in the bank. The seven-year-old son of Orfevre has the option of seeking top-level glory in the Tenno Sho Spring (G1) at home, or advancing to the Dubai Gold Cup (G2) on World Cup night.
“This might be the second win for Japan,” Ikee said, alluding to Stay Foolish’s initial score in last year’s Red Sea Turf, “but it is a first win for me. This is a great achievement for me and I am very happy.
“I didn’t talk tactics with Damian today. He made his own plans and we didn’t discuss anything before the race. I bought Orfevre to the Arc twice but he ran second on both occasions, so winning a big race abroad with Orfevre’s son, it is a great pleasure. My father trained Stay Gold, his (paternal) grandsire, so the feeling with this victory is so special.”
Neom Turf Cup (G3)
Japan couldn’t sweep the turf stakes because there was no representative in the $1.5 million Neom Turf Cup. But so dominating was Shadwell homebred Mostahdaf, that any Japanese contender would have had to be positively sensational to threaten the seven-length winner.
Much of the pre-race speculation centered upon the exciting up-and-comer Missed the Cut. The favorite’s chances were undermined, however, when he was set alight beforehand, likely egged on by the antics of Peter the Great who ended up being scratched at the gate. Then Missed the Cut had a torrid trip out wide; moving up into the daylight rather than tucking behind early was arguably a mistake, and he ultimately flattened out in fourth.
In contrast, Mostahdaf worked out an advantageous passage with Shadwell’s retained rider Jim Crowley, and that was all he needed to stamp his authority. The John and Thady Gosden trainee stays farther than about 1 5/16 miles, so Crowley wisely had him in a forward spot, camped right by longshot leader Eagle’s Flight. Once turned loose, Mostahdaf motored away to stop the timer in 2:06.24 and return $5.70.
Godolphin’s Dubai Future was best of the rest by 5 3/4 lengths. Locally-based Flying Visit excelled himself in third, overhauling Missed the Cut. Eagle’s Flight, Castle, White Moonlight, Byline, Sir Busker, and Star of Wins rounded out the order under the wire.
Mostahdaf was rebounding from a trailing effort in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), where he couldn’t do himself justice on the boggy going. The five-year-old was earning his sixth stakes victory, having accounted for the 2021 Darley (G3), Fortune S., and Heron S. as well as last campaign’s Gordon Richards (G3) and September (G3). His scorecard of 13-8-2-0 also reflects seconds in the 2022 Brigadier Gerard (G3) (to Bay Bridge) and Hardwicke (G2) at Royal Ascot (to Broome), and the Neom enhanced his bankroll to $1.2 million.
“We had got a lovely trip around there,” Crowley said, “and it was game over turning in. He loves fast ground and we knew he’d stay.
“Everything went according to plan, we just wanted to sit where he was comfortable and he took me into the race.
“From a mile-and-a-quarter to a mile-and-a-half on fast ground he can be very good. John and Thady wouldn’t have run him in the Arc if they didn’t think he was a very good horse. Hopefully he can keep progressing.”
“He’s a versatile horse who is pretty comfortable in terms of trip,” Thady Gosden said. “We’ll talk to the owners and see if we take him to Dubai next month.”
By the great Frankel and out of the stakes-winning Dubawi mare Handassa, Mostahdaf is a half-brother to multiple Group 1-winning highweight Nazeef.