Promising Run Shines in Balanchine & Heavy Metal Rocks The Firebreak Stakes
The seventh meeting of this year’s international extravaganza was highlighted by the Group 2 Balanchine Stakes. The US$200,000 event included a thrilling finish between Godolphin’s multiple G2 winner and race favorite Promising Run and multiple G1 winner Furia Cruzada. The former, under Pat Cosgrave for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, held on by a diminishing head over her Antonio Fresu-ridden South American champion foe in exciting style.
Penalised for their victory in the 1600m Group 2 Cape Verdi (G2), also for fillies and mares, three weeks ago, Promising Run carried her 58.5 kgs to the front soon after turning for home, but quickly came under attack from Opal Tiara, winner of this race last year for England and trainer Mick Channon. Cosgrave’s mount shrugged her off 200m out, only for Fresu and Furia Cruzada to throw down a determined, late challenge in the centre of the track. Ultimately holding on, Promising Run was part of a treble on the evening for the Godolphin blue.
“To be honest, things did not really go to plan this evening and in such a small field I would have much preferred a faster early gallop but we did not go very quickly,” Cosgrave said. “It then became a bit messy and, not wanting to disappoint her, I was in front plenty soon and we were there to be aimed at. In fairness to her, she has seen off the challenges well and then had enough to thwart the very last one. A faster run race will suit her and, remember, she has done that under a penalty, so you have to be happy.”
The evening’s co-feature was the $200,000 Firebreak Stakes sponsored by AZIZI Developments (G3) over the same dirt course and 1600m distance as next month’s $1 million Godolphin Mile sponsored by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum City – District One (G2). From halfway, there was only ever going to be one winner with big favourite Heavy Metal never threatened under Mickael Barzalona and able to register his sixth course and distance victory emphatically for trainer Salem bin Ghadayer and owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum.
Winner of the Al Maktoum Challenge R1 (G2) on the first night of the carnival six weeks ago, over the same track and trip, he was penalised for that success and was also making a quick return to action, having finished a tired third in the 1900m Al Maktoum Challenge R2 last Thursday.
“He just loves it here at Meydan and this dirt surface,” Barzalona said. “The 1600m is probably his ideal trip and he has won that today without me having to ask him to do anything. He seems to anticipate the start and knows when it is time to go. That helps him get to the lead, and the rail, after which he has proved many times he is a hard horse to pass. The 1900m last week was probably too far for him and I guess the Godolphin Mile will be his main target.”