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DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – The talk all week had been that Silk Racing Co’s Almond Eye was one of the best turf runners in the world, and on Saturday, the Japanese-bred filly proved her place amongst the global elite when she almost effortlessly took the Dubai Turf Sponsored by DP World (G1) at Meydan Racecourse.
Sent postward from gate 7 under Christophe Lemaire as the 4/5 favorite, Almond Eye was content to sit three-wide down the backstretch from a midpack stalking position. Century Dream held a lengthy early lead up front, traveling well down the back and into the far turn while Without Parole gave closest chase. At the top of the stretch, Lemaire allowed Almond Eye to float out into the clear but still remained chilly as she hit the front. Given a pair of light reminders in deep stretch, the Sakae Kunieda-trained Almond Eye crossed with an easy 1 1/4-length score in a final time of 1:46.78 for the 1 1/8-mile event over the firm turf course.
“She was very impressive,” Lemaire said. The way she accelerated is unbelievable. Today was her first start of the year, and quite early on, she was actually in front of the rest of the field. I think she relaxed a little bit and she had a bit of a margin on them. The distance was a little bit short for her today, but she is so good that I had no fear about that. When you have the right horse and you have confidence in your horse, you can go out confident no matter what happens – and she’s the right horse. Hopefully, there are some big victories on the horizon for her.”
Fellow Japanese runner Vivlos, who won this in 2017 and finished second last year, was again second-best in her brief return to the races after initially being retired at the end of 2018. Lord Glitters was just off of her right hip at the wire for third, but the rest of the field was far behind. Deirdre, the third Japanese entry, closed late to steal fourth from a weakening Without Parole. Southern Legend took sixth over Century Dream, with Majestic Mambo in eighth, Wootton ninth, Yulong Prince 10th, and I Can Fly 11th. Completing the order of finish came the Godolphin-owned pair of Mountain Hunter and Dream Castle.
Almond Eye’s win was her seventh straight, including her fifth in a G1 event, and improved her overall record to 8-7-1-0. The 4-year-old daughter of Lord Kanaloa, who who Japan’s Fillies Triple Crown last year, has now earned an eye-popping $10,065,261. Her connections will schedule a campaign that will hopefully end in a showdown with two-time defending champion Enable in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1),
“It was a really great race,” Kunieda said. “She broke well, settled well, got a good position, and accelerated well to win well. It was the result I thought we could get and I’m happy she proved us right. I was nervous; I’ve lost my voice. Almond Eye can continue my dreams, so next we’ll go to Europe; our dream is to take her to the Arc.”
Almond Eye returned $3.60 to win, $2.60 to place, and $2.10 to show. Vivlos brought back $11 to place and $8.40 to show, while Lord Glitters paid $18.40 to show.
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