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Shuruq turns tables, tops Godolphin trifecta in U.A.E. Oaks

  • Shuruq could take on the boys in the UAE Derby (Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club)

Beaten narrowly by fellow Godolphin runners Music Chart and Lovely Pass, respectively, in her first two Carnival appearances, Shuruq exacted revenge in emphatic terms in Thursday's Group 3, $250,000 U.A.E. Oaks at Meydan. The Saeed bin Suroor filly relished the step up in trip to about 1 3/16 miles, and the addition of cheekpieces, to surge well clear of the Mahmood al Zarooni duo of Lovely Pass and Music Chart.

Shuruq, a maiden winner over Kempton's Polytrack in her final outing at two, was just run down late by Music Chart in the January 17 U.A.E. One Thousand Guineas Trial in her Dubai debut. In the Guineas itself on February 7, the daughter of Elusive Quality rallied for second, falling a half-length shy against Lovely Pass. Shuruq left Music Chart behind in third that day, and in the Oaks, took care of her unfinished business with Lovely Pass as well.

With Paul Hanagan subbing for the suspended Silvestre de Sousa, Shuruq raced some way off the pace as Mar Mar hustled to take command rounding the clubhouse turn. Down the backstretch, however, Shuruq improved her position until she was in striking range. The forwardly-placed My Special J's got through along the inside to challenge, and head, Mar Mar on the far turn, but Shuruq was moving smartly into contention.

Overwhelming the dueling leaders at the top of the stretch, Shuruq stole a decisive march on her Godolphin confreres, who were launching their bids belatedly. Shuruq kicked away by daylight and never looked like being caught by Lovely Pass, crossing the wire four lengths clear in a final time of 1:58 3/5 on the Tapeta.

Bin Suroor, who extended his record total of U.A.E. Oaks wins to eight, mentioned a possible tilt against males in the Group 2 U.A.E. Derby, over the same track and trip, on March 30.

"My initial thought is that we are likely to take her back to England," the trainer said, "but we will all have to sit down and talk about it. These conditions clearly suit her, so the U.A.E. Derby is at least a consideration."

The Godolphin trifecta was rounded out by Music Chart, another 2 1/4 lengths behind Lovely Pass. My Special J's faded to fourth, followed by Emotif, who raced in tandem with Shuruq for a time early but couldn't pick up when the real running started; Mar Mar; More Than Sotka; Pure Excellence; and Go Angellica.

Shuruq's initial stakes success advanced her line to 5-2-2-1, $215,139. The Kentucky-bred bay was third to Godolphin's Certify in their mutual unveiling in a July 12 maiden at Newmarket. That form was boosted when Certify went on to rank as England's top juvenile filly, with wins in the Group 3 Sweet Solera, Group 2 May Hill and Group 1 Fillies' Mile. Shuruq came back to break her maiden next time out at Kempton.

A homebred from Sheikh Mohammed's Darley operation, Shuruq is the first registered foal from Group 2 scorer Miss Lucifer. The Noverre mare comes from the terrific family of Virginia Waters, heroine of the Group 1 One Thousand Guineas in 2005; last season's Group 1 Matron winner Chachamaidee; 1998 Group 1 Epsom Derby star High-Rise; French highweight and successful sire In the Wings; and Irish classic-winning highweight and accomplished young sire Dubawi.

The U.A.E. Oaks is part of the scoring system on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, so Shuruq earned 50 points, if her connections should be so inclined to consider Churchill Downs.

California Chrome Cruises to Victory in 140th Kentucky Derby before Crowd of 164,906

Steven Coburn and Perry Martin's favored California Chrome, ridden by Victor Espinoza, took command at the head of the stretch en route to a 1 3/4-length victory over Commanding Curve to win the 140th running of the $2,202,800 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I). A sun-splashed crowd of 164,906, the second-largest attendance in Kentucky Derby history, watched California Chrome give jockey Victor Espinoza a second Derby victory to go with his triumph on War Emblem in 2002.

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