May 26, 2024

Two Rivers Over stays on in Godolphin Mile; Saudi Crown regresses to 12th

Two Rivers Over upsets the Godolphin Mile at Meydan racecourse (Photo by Horsephotos)

Once 4-5 favorite Saudi Crown couldn’t make the lead in Saturday’s $1 million Godolphin Mile (G2), the handwriting was on the wall for an upset at Meydan. Defending champion Isolate and Walk of Stars went forward and battled for the duration, and their protracted duel set it up for Doug O’Neill’s 14-1 shot Two Rivers Over.

Grinding his way relentlessly for Edwin Maldonado, the California invader prevailed by three-quarters of a length in 1:37.49 and sparked a $31.90 payout. Two Rivers Over was handing O’Neill his second trophy in the Godolphin Mile after Spring at Last in 2007 at old Nad al Sheba.

Walk of Stars got his nose in front of Isolate at the wire for runner-up honors. U.S. shipper Caramel Chip checked in sixth, while fellow American Saudi Crown was eased home 12th of 13.

“He was flat today,” jockey Florent Geroux said of Saudi Crown. “I’m afraid he ran too hard last time (when third in the Saudi Cup [G1]) and it looked like he bounced. He was very nervous before the race too, and that’s not usually him.”

Two Rivers Over is by 2015 Godolphin Mile star Tamarkuz, who swept Meydan’s mile series that Carnival and ultimately added the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). Aside from the pedigree interest, the four-year-old gelding brought an improving profile.

Claimed for $30,000 out of an Ellis Park maiden win last June, the Todd Cady and Ty Leatherman runner progressed from starter allowance to entry-level allowance ranks, and graduated to stakes winner in the Nov. 28 Zia Park Derby. Behind him in third that day was the useful Red Route One, who recently captured the New Orleans Classic (G2). Two Rivers Over had since finished fourth in the 1 1/8-mile San Pasqual (G2), and reverting in distance helped.

“I actually asked Edwin to stay closer to the pace,” assistant trainer Leandro Mora revealed, “but it did not work out that way. He knew he was in a little bit of trouble but the horse responded for him.”

“He is not a horse that takes the kickback well, so I was hoping he would be close in the run and he was,” Maldonado said. “When he came into the stretch, I was confident I would get there because I had him in the clear, outside of kickback. He’s very genuine. He gave me everything.”

Two Rivers Over increased his earnings to $905,851 from a 15-5-0-5 line.