- Horse Racing - Poor start, nice finish by Jilbab

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Saturday, July 20
Poor start, nice finish by Jilbab

ELMONT, N.Y. -- When Jilbab returned to North America from Dubai for her 3-year-old season, she was not deemed worthy of racing in the royal blue silks of Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing Inc.

In the last five weeks, she has earned a permanent place in the barn.

Saturday, Jilbab overcame a disastrous start and rallied to wear down Tarnished Lady inside the sixteenth pole to win the Grade 1, $350,000, Coaching Club American Oaks by 1 1/2 lengths before 8,418 at Belmont Park. Tarnished Lady finished second, four lengths in front of Shop Till You Drop. Chamrousse, the 7-5 favorite, finished fourth, followed by Linda Eder, Jaramar Rain, and Sister Girl Blues.

As a 2-year-old, Jilbab raced for Godolphin and trainer Eoin Harty and won once in four starts. In her first two starts this year, Jilbab, a daughter of A.P. Indy, raced under the name of Sheik Maktoum bin Maktoum - Sheik Mohammed's brother - and was under the care of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

After finishing second in a preliminary allowance race on May 16, Jilbab cleared that allowance condition by 13 1/4 lengths on June 16. She was immediately moved up the street from McLaughlin's barn 3 to Saeed bin Suroor's barn 4.

"We like to keep the best horses in our barn and try to make it our elite team," said Tom Albertrani, assistant to Suroor. "We try to weed out the ones that don't belong in our stable. Kiaran was quite high on this filly. He said she looks like she belongs in Godolphin's barn."

Breaking from the rail under Mike Luzzi, Jilbab stumbled her first three strides out of the gate and was last, 10 1/2 lengths back, after a quarter-mile. Luzzi said that entering the first turn, he turned to Jose Santos, aboard Linda Eder, and said, "I can't believe I'm still in the race."

Luzzi kept Jilbab along the inside down the backside before launching a three-wide bid around the turn to move into contention. Tarnished Lady, under John Velazquez, took the lead in upper stretch, but Jilbab had enough to wear her down. She covered the 1 1/2 miles over a fast track in 2:31.48 and returned $10 as the third choice.

"One stumble led to the next one led to the next one," Luzzi said. "I was just happy to still be on her. I didn't use her till the five-sixteenths pole."

Albertrani said Jilbab might make her next start in the Alabama on Aug. 17 at Saratoga.

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