North America blitzes rivals in 'first step' toward Dubai World Cup

North America blitzes rivals in 'first step' toward Dubai World Cup
Photo: Erika Rasmussen/Dubai Racing Club

Well away under Richard Mullen, riding for main employer Satish Seemar and owner Ramzan Kadyrov, North America was absolutely dominant in a race that shaped up as one of the most compelling and competitive dirt miles Dubai has ever seen.

The 7-year-old gelded son of Dubawi soon turned that presumption on its head, going gate-to-wire and never looking in doubt in Thursday's Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 at Meydan. 

Shaking off defending champion and Godolphin Mile (G2) winner
 Heavy Metal, as well as UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) winner Gold Town, Burj Nahaar (G3) winner Kimbear and Godolphin Mile runner-up Muntazah, gingerly campaigned North America won for the sixth time in 16 starts and first time since winning the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (G1) on Super Saturday last March in similar fashion over subsequent Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Thunder Snow.



The victory provided some consolation for the winner’s connections, as his last two disappointing efforts — a 10th
 in the Dubai World Cup and third in last year’s edition of this race — were caused by poor starts. This time, there was no such worry.

“That’s the way he is,” Seemar said. “I was telling (Mullen) to let him do his thing. We had the right draw. If he pops out, just don’t stop him. I know when he’s in form like that, he’s so good. About 10 days ago, we jumped him out of the gate, just to wake him up and he did it exactly the same way. I wasn’t worried about (Heavy Metal). After (North America) broke like he did, I had no worries. His stride is about 1½ compared to other horses. He could have set a track record today, but no one was there to challenge him. He’ll go to (Al Maktoum Challenge) Round 2.”

“Unbelievable,” Mullen added. “I just said to the boss (Seemar) that there are not a lot of horses who give me goosebumps and he has done that. It was an incredible performance for his first run (this season). He has such huge stride. I think anything that comes near, he has that much pace that he just kills them off.

“This is step one. There are a few to go, so let us not get carried away. Like I said, they are horses, not machines, and anything can happen. There is potential for him to be better. He is only going to have four runs this year and he already has his program penciled out. I know he is a 7-year-old, but he has probably had less races than most 3- or 4-year-olds in Europe. He is very lightly raced and very well looked-after. They have the whole summer off, so seven is the new three or four in UAE terms.”

The Doug Watson-trained pair of Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi’s Kimbear and Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Muntazah, ran on well, but were clearly distanced by the victor’s powerhouse performance. Kimbear saved ground under Pat Dobbs before tipping out and attempting to reel in the winner, while Muntazah dealt with a slightly more eventful trip under Jim Crowley.
 

“He had a nice trip around,” Dobbs said. “The winner was far too good. He’s a tough horse and ran his race, but I’m afraid the winner was in a different league today.”
 

“I didn’t get a great trip around,” Crowley explained. “There was a little interference on the backside, but he ran a good race and I think he’ll improve from this.”
 

Watson added: “North America was just fantastic tonight. I thought he might need farther, but the way he did that, he’s going to be a tough horse this year. I’m pleased with ours. Muntazah got into a little trouble, but he’ll come on from that run, again. I think Kimbear got another good blow out of this race. I’d say we go to the Firebreak with both of them.”

Gold Town,
 African Ride, Dolkong, Etijaah, Masaarr and a shockingly flat Heavy Metal completed the field. 

Mickael Barzalona, aboard Heavy Metal, offered little excuse: “The horse, mainly, needed the run. We’ll see next time.”

 

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