Racing News

Fortify finishes sixth in Dubai

  • South African-bred Soft Falling Rain is a 4-year-old and thus ineligible for the KY Derby (Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club)

South African champion Soft Falling Rain extended his unbeaten sequence to six in Thursday's Group 3, $250,000 U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas at Meydan, while leading Godolphin hope Fortify could do no better than sixth.

Soft Falling Rain was handing trainer Mike de Kock a record fifth win in the Guineas. The National Assembly colt followed a well-worn path: like de Kock's most recent winners, Asiatic Boy (2007), Honour Devil (2008) and Musir (2010), he captured a seven-furlong conditions race -- now dubbed the U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas Trial -- in his local debut on January 17.

Once more guided by Paul Hanagan, Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum's retained rider, Soft Falling Rain took a strong hold as he chased the pace set by Deauville Prince. Fortify, who was last seen finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, was biding his time farther back.

As Soft Falling Rain ranged up boldly turning for home, Fortify also improved his position in the second flight. But Fortify's move turned out to be brief, and he failed to factor in the stretch.

In contrast, Soft Falling Rain stormed to the front and kept on to score by 2 1/4 lengths. Making light of his 131-pound impost as a Southern Hemisphere-bred, he also scuttled any doubt about his ability to cope with the added furlong here, and finished the metric mile on Tapeta in a sharp 1:36 3/5. His time represents a new stakes record since its move to Meydan, smashing the old mark of 1:37 2/5 established by Musir. 

Snowboarder, a stablemate of Fortify from the Mahmood al Zarooni yard, rallied best of all to grab second. De Kock's other runner, Zahee, was a one-paced third, and Fortify retreated to sixth in the eight-horse field.

Soft Falling Rain boosted his bankroll to $244,258 from his perfect six-for-six mark. His first four starts had come over the turf at Turffontein. After his 2 1/4-length maiden victory, the bay came right back to take a juvenile plate by 4 1/4 lengths, and captured his first stakes attempt in the Storm Bird, all going the same five-furlong distance. Soft Falling Rain wrapped up South African champion two-year-old honors with a 4 1/2-length demolition job in the Group 1 South African Nursery at about six furlongs on April 28.

Unlike de Kock's previous Guineas heroes, Soft Falling Rain is not certain to try the about 1 3/16 miles of the Group 2 U.A.E. Derby on March 30. His connections believe that the trip might be a bridge too far.

"He is a really nice horse and we will have to decide where he runs next," said Sheikh Hamdan, who was winning his first U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas. "This 1,600 meters really seems to suit him on this surface and we could stick to this trip. The U.A.E. Derby is possible, but he has a lot of speed.

"Wherever he runs here next, we are keen to take him to England and Royal Ascot would be a possibility for him."

"We were a bit concerned about his stamina (for the Guineas), de Kock said, "but he has seen it out well and we will have to think about his next race."

The Guineas was not a scoring race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, but the U.A.E. Derby is part of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series, worth a windfall of 100 points to the winner.

Soft Falling Rain is not eligible for the Kentucky Derby, since he is a four-year-old by Northern Hemisphere reckoning.

Los Alamitos Futurity Added to 2014-15 'Road to the Kentucky Derby' Series

The $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (Grade I) has been added to the list of races that comprise the 2014-15 “Road to the Kentucky Derby.” The series of 35 select races – 19 “Prep Season” races and 16 “Championship Series” races – will determine which horses qualify to the 141st running of the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby.

Global View Nips Storming Inti at Wire to Win 23rd Running of Grade II American Turf

Glen Hill Farm's Global View caught Storming Inti in the closing strides

Midnight Lucky Romps in 28th Running of Grade I Humana Distaff

Midnight Lucky, making her first start in more than 11 months, took the lead out of the gate

Coffee Clique Catches Dame Marie Late to Win 29th Running of Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile

Coffee Clique squeezed through an opening along the hedge

California Chrome Wins America’s Greatest Race

164,906 fans pack historic Churchill Downs

Updates Powered by

Visit brisnet.com for expert handicapping, picks and analysis Derby Week and all year long

Derby Stories

Lindsay & Els Chicago, IL

First time at the Oaks so that's why we have these crazy hats on, shaped like cheese hats and painted pink in honor of Bright Pink, which is a great charity.
Paula's picking California Chrome

Kentucky Derby 140 presented by Yum! - The Race

Kentucky Derby 140 - Road to the Derby

Kentucky Derby 140 Intro

Around the Downs - The Stables

The Race

54 Photos

GET TO KNOW THE KENTUCKY DERBY WINNER CALIFORNIA CHROME (PRE-RACE BIO)

California Chrome is attempting to become only the fourth California-bred, Kentucky Derby winner in history and the first since Decidedly in 1962.