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For much of Thursday's Group 3, $250,000 U.A.E. Oaks, runaway pacesetter Mary Fildes threatened to pull a shocker. But Godolphin's Falls of Lora rallied from well back to foil the audacious front runner, handing the team its incredible eighth victory in just 12 runnings of the fillies' classic.
Godolphin figured to continue its stranglehold on the U.A.E. Oaks, but the royal blue silks had another compelling candidate in Pimpernel. Trained, like Falls of Lora, by Mahmoud al Zarooni, Pimpernel was coming off a runner-up effort to Godolphin's impressive Gamilati in the February 3 U.A.E. One Thousand Guineas. With Gamilati skipping the remainder of the Dubai season to concentrate on the European mile classics, Pimpernel shaped up as the filly to beat in the Oaks. But she never landed a blow and wound up fifth in the six-filly field.
Falls of Lora was the only Oaks contestant who did not take part in the U.A.E. One Thousand Guineas. The daughter of Street Cry had not been seen since her disappointing fifth in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp on October 2, and she was making her synthetic as well as her 2012 debut here.
Mary Fildes, the trailer in the Guineas, decided to go for broke early by opening up as big a lead as possible. As she raced alone up front, Moon Spun sat in second. Falls of Lora settled about midway through the strung-out field, while Pimpernel was held up near the back of the pack, tossing her head and not giving many signs of encouragement for her supporters.
The longer Mary Fildes continued her double-digit lead, the more it appeared that her rivals had miscalculated. Even rounding the far turn and entering the stretch, the longtime leader still maintained a sizeable advantage. But Falls of Lora then began to surge, under a rail-skimming ride by Mickael Barzalona.
At the same time, Mary Fildes started to drift out to the center of the course, and come back to her pursuers. None was making as much progress as Falls of Lora, who burst through to her inside and drew off by 2 3/4 lengths. Barzalona was already standing upright in celebration as the winner stopped the teletimer in 2:01 for about 1 3/16 miles on Tapeta.
"We knew she would stay the trip," al Zarooni said, "whereas perhaps it was a slight doubt with Pimpernel, who was then keen early on. I must admit I thought the leader had stolen the race at one stage, but Mickael chased her at the right time. The U.A.E. Derby (Group 2 on March 31) is a possible but Kinglet is probably our number one for that at the moment. The option is there for her though."
Mary Fildes barely saved second by a neck from Alsindi. Moon Spun, Pimpernel and Colorful Notion completed the order under the wire.
Falls of Lora was garnering an arguably overdue first stakes success, after flopping in her two previous attempts. Her five-length maiden romp at Doncaster stamped her as a major contender for the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, where she ran a subpar eighth of 16. A troubled fourth under top weight of 133 pounds in a Newmarket handicap, Falls of Lora rebounded with a smart victory in an Ascot conditions race. But she again failed to put her best foot forward in her follow-up in the Marcel Boussac. Her U.A.E. Oaks triumph improved her record to 7-3-1-0, $188,566.
Bred by Darley in Ireland, the bay is out of French stakes heroine Firth of Lorne, runner-up in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French One Thousand Guineas) in 2002. The Danehill mare has also produced German stakes winner Etive.
Falls of Lora's second dam is Group 3 queen Kerrera, who was second in the Group 1 One Thousand Guineas in 1989. Other family members include two winners of the Group 2 Mehl-Mulhens-Rennen (German Two Thousand Guineas) -- Dupont and Pacino, the latter turning a classic double with the Group 2 Premio Parioli (Italian Two Thousand Guineas) -- and Group 2 stars Rock City and Illustrious Blue.
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