July 17, 2024

Isolate separates himself from pack in Godolphin Mile

Isolate thrived on a step up in trip for the Godolphin Mile (Photo by Dubai Racing Club)

As a stakes-winning sprinter in the United States, Isolate was a logical recruit for that division in Dubai. But after a pair of seconds in Group 3 sprints during the Carnival, trainer Doug Watson decided to pitch him into Saturday’s $1 million Godolphin Mile (G2), and the RRR Racing colorbearer ran away with it.

The harbinger had actually come at Saratoga last summer, in the seven-furlong Tale of the Cat S. Then trained by Tom Amoss, Isolate turned in a front-running demolition job on the rail. There was a sense of déjà vu on the Dubai World Cup undercard, as Isolate produced a similar performance from post 2 in the Godolphin Mile, when reuniting with jockey Tyler Gaffalione for the first time since the Spa.

Defending champion Bathrat Leon, who had pulled a gigantic upset using inside speed last year, couldn’t make it to the front here. Chasing Isolate early, Bathrat Leon lost ground down the lane. Fellow Japanese shipper Win Carnelian likewise emerged as a stalker, but succumbed to the demanding pace.

Isolate opened up by 5 1/2 lengths while clocking 1:35.71, not far off Muntazah’s track record of 1:34.99 from Super Saturday 2019. His time was even nearer the stakes record of 1:35.21 set by Watson’s first Godolphin Mile winner, One Man Band (2016). Watson won again with Second Summer (2017), so Isolate is his third in seven years.

As a barometer of the pace, the minor awards went to closers coming from the clouds. Law of Peace, last after totally blowing the break, got up for second, and Atletico El Culano rallied for third. Bathrat Leon was a hard-trying fourth, followed by Everfast, Win Carnelian, Discovery Island, Raaeb, Desert Wisdom, Golden Goal, Lauda Sion, Royal Mews, Prince Eiji, and Godolphin’s French shipper Egot.

Isolate’s first Group success enhanced his record to 15-7-4-2, $987,015. A distant third in the 2020 Nashua (G3) in his only prior try at a mile, the son of Mark Valeski wired the Work All Week S. at Hawthorne last June and missed by a nose in his U.S. finale, the Sept. 17 Louisville Thoroughbred Society S. at Churchill Downs. Isolate was second in his UAE bow in the Feb. 3 Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) and again in the March 4 Mahab al Shimaal (G3), both at about six furlongs. He returned $10.40 in the Godolphin Mile.

“I felt it going into the gate,” Gaffalione said of Isolate’s performance. “He gave me this unbelievable feeling. He always breaks a step slow, but when I asked him he had so much power and the plan worked perfectly. That was amazing.

“I was supposed to ride here with Sir Winston in 2020, but obviously it didn’t go ahead (because of the emerging COVID pandemic). I’ve always dreamed of winning here and to have achieved it, it’s so special.”

American expat Watson reminisced about how he got started on World Cup night.

“I’m just thrilled for Sheikh Rashid (bin Humaid al Nuaimi) and the whole team at home. I’ve been here for almost 30 years, I’ve progressed from being in charge of the ambulance at the first Dubai World Cup (in 1996) to now having winners on the night. It’s quite remarkable.

“It’s unbelievable,” the horseman added regarding Isolate. “He’s big and long, and you saw the way he broke, he didn’t shoot out of the gates – you have to ride him along. Once he gets into his stride, he’s pretty amazing.

“Tyler did a great job getting him out and going, getting a nice pace on, and he stays a mile. We can definitely say that now. I wasn’t quite sure until he turned in, and there wasn’t much going with him.”