U.S. Triple Crown nominee Toast of New York proved that he's much more than a Wolverhampton wonder when running out a commanding winner of Saturday's Group 2, $2 million U.A.E. Derby. Justifying trainer Jamie Osborne's lofty opinion of him, Michael Buckley's colorbearer tracked the pace before storming 2 1/2 lengths clear in his stakes debut, and earned 100 points toward a possible tilt at the Kentucky Derby.
Toast of New York was also giving jockey Jamie Spencer a World Cup night double, following his victory aboard Certerach in the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup. Both came at the expense of better-fancied rivals. Toast of New York was dispatched as an 11-1 outsider, with Godolphin's U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas hero Long John and Coolmore's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf runner-up Giovanni Boldini each attracting plenty of support at 8-5. But neither came close to making an impact from off the pace in a race dominated by forwardly-placed runners.
In the early going, Safety Check secured the lead. Toast of New York was parked right off him in second, and traveling smoothly throughout, he launched the winning move in the stretch. Stamping his authority in style, the son of first-crop sire Thewayyouare drew off to complete about 1 3/16 miles on Tapeta in 1:57 4/5.
"In my wildest dreams I didn't expect him to win like that," said Osborne, a former National Hunt jockey in England.
"I could believe it because I am a believer," laughed Buckley, also better known for his winners in jumps racing. "I was nervous, shaky and it got worse from there (while watching the race), but when I saw him hit the front, I thought he would be very tough to pass. He's got a high cruising speed."
Spencer, for his part, had plenty of faith in Toast of New York.
"I am not at all surprised," Spencer said. "This horse has been doing good things all along."
Asmar, six-length winner of the Al Bastakiya last out, was best of the rest by 1 1/4 lengths.
"He ran a blinder but he got beaten by a very good horse," jockey Richard Hughes said of Asmar. "Turning for home, I was hoping (Toast of New York) couldn't stay. It was a very good run."
Emirates Flyer crossed the wire third, a nose in front of Giovanni Boldini, who closed mildly after being held up far back.
"He got involved in a bit of a barging match," jockey Ryan Moore said of Giovanni Boldini. "By the time we got clear, the winner had flown. He stayed on well."
Another 6 1/4 lengths astern came Argentine Derby winner Cooptado in fifth, and Long John, Paximadia, Sir Jack Layden, King Rubi, Safety Check, Jallota and a tailed-off Sir John Hawkins rounded out the order of finish.
Toast of New York advanced his scorecard to 5-3-1-0. Fifth in his career debut on the turf at Leicester last August, he just missed next time on the Kempton Polytrack, where the bit slipped through his mouth. He then demolished a maiden on Wolverhampton's Polytrack by 12 lengths, and concluded his juvenile season with a 16-length conquest of a novice event at the same venue on November 1.
Aside from his engagement in the Triple Crown, Toast of New York also has entries in the May 3 Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket and the June 28 Irish Derby at the Curragh.
Connections are keeping all of the classic options open.
"It's not impossible," Osborne of a Kentucky Derby bid, "but I haven't thought about it yet."
Spencer wouldn't be drawn into offering an opinion on Toast of New York's chances on dirt at Churchill Downs.
"I'm the wrong person to be asking," the rider said.
Toast of New York was bred by Ashleigh Stud, Frank Ramos and Jackie Ramos in Kentucky. A $35,000 purchase as a newly-turned yearling at Keeneland January, he later RNA'd for $77,400 at the Goffs Orby sale. He is out of the Syncline mare Claire Soleil, herself a daughter of multiple Grade 1 star Claire Marine.