TORONTO, ON – Godolphin’s well-traveled homebred Old Persian made his North American debut a winning one when he conquered Saturday’s $300,000 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (G1) at Woodbine.
Breaking from the rail as the 3/5 favorite under James Doyle, Old Persian hopped out of the gate but quickly recovered and settled into third along the rail heading into the clubhouse turn. Up front, longshot Cooler Mike tore off to a lead that exceeded 12 lengths at one point while he posted fractions of :24.82, :47.63, and 1:11.88.
Heading into the far turn, Cooler Mike’s lead vanished as he hit a wall. Tiz a Slam was the first to catch and pass him, doing so in the far turn, but Old Persian was close behind. At the top of the stretch, Old Persian swept along the outside of Tiz a Slam and soon shot past the local hero.
Crossing over to the rail with a furlong remaining, Old Persian kicked away from the field with relative ease. The Charlie Appleby trainee crossed 2 1/2 lengths clear in a final time of 2:27.78 for the 1 1/2-mile event over the good turf course.
“We were a bit concerned early,” Doyle said. “He missed the break, but they went pretty quick and we were able to muster some speed down the fence to secure a bit of space. We had a very clean trip all the way through. He’s a powerful stayer at this trip with a good turn of foot, and when the pace came up in the stretch, he excelled and sprinted away nicely.”
A three-way photo for second went to Nessy by a nose over Focus Group, with Tiz a Slam unlucky late to be beaten by a head. Over 20 lengths back came Sir Sahib in fifth, while a gassed Cooler Mike was almost 39 lengths behind the winner in the end to complete the order of finish.
Old Persian’s win was his third of the year and his first since the Dubai Sheema Classic Stakes (G1) at Meydan in late March. The 4-year-old son of Dubawi improved his record to 16-9-1-2 with $4,349,231 earned. His win over the slightly softened course avenged Appleby’s two straight losses with a beaten favorite in this event.
“From the minute he stepped foot on the track, he wasn’t really 100% concentrating,” Doyle said. “He was more enjoying the crowd, rather than what was going on in front of him, which is amazing because he’s run some cracking races at Meydan and there is no bigger stand than that. I think the rain during the week definitely played to our strengths. The track is in beautiful condition, it’s dried out throughout the day. We had a beautiful racing surface and I think there were no complaints on that front.“
Old Persian returned $3.30 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.20 to show. Nessy brought back $9.60 to place and $4.70 to show, while Focus Group paid $2.90 to show.