The Dubai Creek Mile (Listed) did not disappoint as the headliner on a gorgeous Thursday evening at Dubai’s Meydan Racecourse, providing a superb field that included G1 winner Capezzano and G3 winners Secret Ambition and Salute the Soldier, but it was the lesser-proven, high-level handicapper Thegreatcollection who upset all in the end, overpowering his more-accomplished foes en route to a 2 1/4-length tally under Pat Cosgrave.
Sitting comfortably at the back of the field as heavily favoured duo Capezzano and Salute the Soldier vied up front through healthy fractions, Zaur Sekrekov’s Doug Watson-trained son of Saint Anddan split horses at the top of the stretch under confident handling and asserted himself over defending champ Secret Ambition in the final strides. The final time was a smart 1:36.75–more than a second faster than last year and despite a track that was playing more slowly than usual.
The win came in his second seasonal appearance after a strong runner-up effort in handicap company to Casey Jones, who wound up checking in fifth of seven in this event. That day, he carried 5kgs more than his foe–a disparity not happening this evening.
The victory was the 6-year-old’s seventh lifetime from 25 starts and fifth since joining Watson’s Red Stables four years ago. He was trained to two wins from three starts by Efren Loza Jr. in the United States before being sold abroad. The victory made up for a hard-luck effort in the same event in 2019, when a check at the top of the stretch prevented him from any chance of victory. Additionally, it was a consolation for his conditioner, as Watson’s assumed best chance in the race, G2-winning Kimbear, scratched hours before.
Secret Ambition held on gamely for the runner-up position, a half-length ahead of Capezzano, who was making his first start since The Saudi Cup on Feb. 29. Romping Burj Nahaar (G3) winner Salute the Soldier was another length back in fourth. Alkaamel and Mount Pelion filled out the back markers astern Casey Jones. Quip was scratched the day prior.
“I told them today that I think they’ll go crazy up front and if we sit on him and let him finish from behind, I think he’ll finish well. His first race against Casey Jones, I thought that was one of his better first runs of the season. I think he’s improving and can run with them. His mind has become a lot better over the last couple years. Pat has ridden exactly as you have to, by letting him settle into his own rhythm. Then he enjoys running past tiring horses later on.
“He is one of our slowest work horses at home and you just have to let him do his own thing,” Watson continued. “You never know how he’s going into the race because he literally walks in his works. You couldn’t find a $2,500 claimer at Belterra that works worse than him, but he’s a racehorse and if we keep his mind right and keep him looking as well as he is now, I’m sure he can compete the rest of the season against those. Whether he can win, I don’t know, but he sure impressed me tonight. (He’s a) nice horse who’s getting better with age.”
Photo Credit: Erika Rasmussen (Dubai Racing Club)