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DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – The first Thoroughbred race of the Dubai World Cup card saw a group of American connections cash in on their first-ever success at the world’s richest night of racing when Coal Front came grinding home late to win Saturday’s Godolphin Mile Sponsored by Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City-District One (G2) at Meydan Racecourse.
Breaking from stall 12 under Jose Ortiz as the 5/2 second choice on the tote, Coal Front found himself racing four-wide ear the front early, with the defending champion Heavy Metal, the 4/5 favorite Muntazah, and the longshot Good Curry to his inside. Heading into the far turn, Good Curry dropped off, allowing Ortiz to sidle Coal Front in slightly to save some ground. Turning for home, Muntazah began to fade, and at first, it appeared that Heavy Metal would make it two straight.
The pacesetter failed to switch leads in the stretch until very late, though, a move that may have cost him. Coal Front came grinding away with every step, eventually collaring and surpassing the early leader in the final stages. As Ortiz stood victorious in the saddle, the Todd Pletcher trainee crossed with a 3/4-length advantage in a final time of 1:36.51 for the mile-long event over the fast main track.
“The horse felt great for me and he broke well, which was important,” Ortiz said. “I wanted to be on or near to the lead and it worked out perfectly. I knew I had to be patient to time my run for home. I had two horses in front of me which gave me a great lead, and I just sat and watched (jockey) Jim Crowley and Muntazah, as he is the main man around here. I followed him and my horse dug in for me late on.”
After nearly running gate to wire, Heavy Metal finished 5 3/4 lengths ahead of Muntazah, who one race earlier had broken the Meydan track record at this distance (1:34 and 4) but failed to change leads in the stretch. Kimbear nearly took third placing, narrowly missing the bettors’ choice at the wire. Behind them came Secret Ambition, Musawaat, Logrado, Ibn Malik, True Timber, Nonkono Yume, and Major Partnership. Good Curry was eased before the wire.
Just as the horses were about to load, African Ride was scratched, bringing the field down to 12 runners.
Coal Front’s win was his third straight following back-to-back graded stakes scores in the Mr. Prospector (G3) and the Razorback Handicap (G3) to improve his career mark to 9-7-0-0. The lightly-raced 5-year-old son of Stay Thirsty increased his career bankroll to $1,677,280 for co-owners Robert LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners.
“He has had some health issues, on and off but always had a ton of talent,” said Sol Kumin of Head of Plains Partners. “Todd Pletcher has done a great job with him. We thought, if he could handle the mile 1/16, we would come back to the mile, and everything worked out well. It was worth the trip. … I wasn’t sure if he was winning. I was hoping and I was worried. I thought he would run out of gas, but he didn’t.”
Coal Front returned $7.80 to win, $4.40 to place, and $3.20 to show. Heavy Metal brought back $11.80 to place and $4.80 to show, while Muntazah paid $2.10 to show.
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