DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Trainer Rick Dutrow has demonstrated repeatedly his intimate knowledge of American racing. Somehow, Dutrow had the perfect feel for Dubai, too.
Dutrow sent his first two horses to the World Cup program this year and won with both of them, becoming only the third trainer to win multiple races on a World Cup card. First came Diamond Stripes, who won the first Thoroughbred race of the night, the $1 million Godolphin Mile; 75 minutes later it was Benny the Bull rallying down the middle of the track to capture the $2 million Golden Shaheen.
"My God, this is incredible. I'm on Cloud 9 and I still have the biggest one yet to come," Dutrow said from Gulfstream Park where he watched his two World Cup winners.
Later Saturday, Dutrow was to start the promising 3-year-old Big Brown in the Florida Derby.
Edgar Prado rode both winners and rode them well. Benny the Bull ($5.20), winning his third straight race, broke well in the Golden Shaheen but quickly dropped back to take up his typical position well behind the early leaders. There were some traffic problems in the middle of the race, run at six furlongs over a straight course, but Prado found clear sailing at the eighth pole and wore down fellow American Idiot Proof with a sustained run.
"I think that racing on the straight course confused him, but he won anyway," Prado said.
Benny the Bull emerged from relative obscurity - making starts at Hawthorne and Prairie Meadows last summer - to become a major American sprinter by the end of last year. Purchased privately by IEAH Stables and other partners after winning the Iowa Sprint, he was a good second to Midnight Lute in the Forego at Saratoga before struggling over a wet track in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Benny the Bull bounced back with wins in the Grade 1 DeFrancis and the Sunshine Millions Sprint, before becoming the fifth straight American winner of the Golden Shaheen.
Benny the Bull finished 1 3/4 lengths in front of Idiot Proof, who ran well in defeat, and was 2 1/4 lengths better than Star Crowned. An objection by Mick Kinane on Star Crowned against David Flores on Idiot Proof was not allowed. Godolphin's Diabolical, one of the favorites, was a flat seventh.
Sheema Classic: Sun Classique surprises
Trainer Mike de Kock became the second trainer of the night to win two when Sun Classique ($16.80) posted a surprise win in the $5 million Sheema Classic.
A 5-year-old Australian-bred mare who made her first 12 starts in South Africa, Sun Classique won for the third time this winter in Dubai - and won when it counted most.
South Africans had the best of things here Saturday night, winning three stakes. De Kock, already the second-leading trainer in World Cup history, won his seventh and eighth World Cup Night stakes.
Sun Classique had never raced over 1 1/2 miles before, but had not trouble seeing out the trip. Ridden by Kevin Shea, she raced fourth behind pacesetting Spring House, coming between horses to take the lead about a quarter-mile from the finish. Meanwhile, favored Viva Pataca raced near the back of a 16-horse field and had to make a run to get to mid-pack prior to the far turn before tipping four wide. He was gaining a furlong out, but Sun Classique had too much left and won by 2 3/4 lengths. Her time of 2:27.45 for about 1 1/2 miles was just off the course record.
Doctor Dino rallied well from far back for third and was followed by Quijano and Youmzain.
UAE Derby: De Kock runs 1-2
De Kock retained his stranglehold on the $2 million UAE Derby, sweeping the first two placings with Honour Devil ($6), who was much the best, and Royal Vintage, who finished well clear of the Godolphin filly Cocoa Beach.
De Kock won the UAE Derby for the fourth time. He and owner Sheikh Mohd bin Khalifa al Maktoum have done well buying young horses out of South America, and a year after Asiatic Boy's romp in this race, Honour Devil carried the torch.
Honour Devil had beaten Royal Vintage two starts ago, but was edged by him in the Nad Al Sheba prep for the UAE Derby earlier this month. Nonetheless, De Kock said all week that he favored Honour Devil, a more mature, determined horse at this point, and was proven right on the night.
"He's very strong," said winning rider John Murtagh, who blamed himself for Honour Devil's last loss. "He's a street fighter."
Honour Devil does not seem like a grass horse and will be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Mile, de Kock said afterward.
Massive Drama, the lone American shipper, was a massive disappointment and was distanced.
Godolphin Mile: Diamond Stripes rallies
Diamond Stripes ($8.60) gave Dutrow and Prado their first victory of the evening, coming back in deep stretch after being passed by two horses to win the $1 million Godolphin Mile by 1 1/4 lengths.
Diamond Stripes had disappointed in his last two starts, but the first of those was the Breeders' Cup Classic, where he was overmatched, and the second was a flop in his synthetic-track debut. Back on dirt and facing opponents far less formidable than BC Classic horses, Diamond Stripes won on class and stamina.
Close to the early pace, Diamond Stripes went clear at the top of the long Nad Al Sheba stretch, only to be tackled by Rosberg, who took the lead, and then Elusive Warning, who poked his head in front at the furlong pole.
"I think the long stretch helped me," Prado said. "He doesn't run that well on the turn."
Diamond Stripes was timed in 1:36.96. Don Renato finished third.
- additional reporting by Mike Welsch