Rockingham Ranch and Gelfenstein Farm’s X Y Jet, twice denied when the prize had been in his grasp, finally savored the sweet taste of victory in Saturday’s $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1).
Trainer Jorge Navarro had to wait three years, and bring the injury-susceptible gray back from knee surgeries, to enjoy this day. In his first Golden Shaheen in 2016, X Y Jet was worn down late by local Muarrab and sustained a chipped knee, prompting a what-might-have-been. It took two years to get the gelding back to Dubai, and he looked for all the world like the winner in 2018, until the chestnut blur of Mind Your Biscuits mugged him on the line.
Now a seven-year-old, X Y Jet was foiled by a pace war in his reappearance in the Sunshine Millions Sprint. His leg-weary fourth was understandable in the circumstances off the bench, but he had won that stakes twice en route to his past Golden Shaheen attempts. Any concern about his status for Dubai was answered, however, when he crushed a sloppy Gulfstream allowance second out.
Adding to the connections’ roller coaster going into Dubai World Cup night, co-owner Rockingham Ranch also campaigns Roy H, the early favorite for the Golden Shaheen, in another partnership. But the two-time champion sprinter had to be scratched Thursday due to a foot problem that emerged since his arrival in Dubai.
X Y Jet was drawn right between the other two American stars, with tiny Imperial Hint to his inside and Promises Fulfilled to his outside. Any hint of hesitation at the start would have put him at a tactical disadvantage.
As if aware of the stakes, X Y Jet got off to a brilliant break and blasted straight to the front for regular rider Emisael Jaramillo. Promises Fulfilled, on the other hand, was not away well and never caught up. Imperial Hint also chased without being able to make much of a dent.
Instead, it was Japanese shipper Matera Sky who attended X Y Jet. Despite his game effort in pursuit, the winner always had him covered. X Y Jet held sway by 1 1/2 lengths while finishing about six fast-track furlongs in 1:10.75.
X Y Jet capped a three-win day for Team USA, following Plus Que Parfait in the UAE Derby (G2) and Coal Front in the Godolphin Mile (G2).
Third-placer Imperial Hint eventually narrowed his deficit with Matera Sky to a half-length. Promises Fulfilled checked in fourth. The best of the locals, Drafted, worked his way into fifth. Next came Hong Kong’s Fight Hero, Nine Below Zero, Switzerland, and Tato Key.
X Y Jet’s resume now reads 25-12-7-2, $3,095,513. The Kantharos gelding’s major U.S. scores have come in Grade 3s, the 2015 and 2017 runnings of the Mr. Prospector (G3), 2016 Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3), and last summer’s Smile Sprint (G3).
Quotes from Dubai Racing Club
Winning trainer Jorge Navarro: “I don’t know what I’m feeling right now. I guess it will hit me later on. I do feel a lot of pride in my horse. They knocked him and they forgot he lost twice here by a nose. But he did it today. He won the race and he was the best against the best horses here tonight.”
Winning rider Emisael Jaramillo: “I’m very happy. For me, this is so special. I’m very excited. I’ve come back two times and now I’ve won today, it’s very emotional for everyone with the horse. What a horse he is.”
Brian Trump, representing winning co-owner Rockingham Ranch: “I can’t believe he did it. Defeat in the past has made this victory that much sweeter. Today, it was his time. It was obviously disappointing when Roy H came out, but when this horse is on his game, he’s very hard to beat in anything he contests. He looked very strong the entire way around, he was in the position he needed to be in, but seeing him cross that line was so exciting. He’s such a special horse and the team has done a tremendous job with him.”
Hideyuki Mori, trainer of runner-up Matera Sky: “He ran really well today. This was his first time sitting off the pace like that and he showed great restraint saving himself for the final part of the race. I’m very happy with his performance. Hopefully we can take him abroad again, maybe to the Breeders’ Cup.”
Yutake Take, who rode Matera Sky: “He ran a very good race and moved nicely throughout. He was in top shape and handled the ground even better today than he did during the week in training. He put in a very good effort against a top American challenger. A performance like that give us hope we can take him to the US in the future.”
Jockey Jose Ortiz on third-placer Imperial Hint: “The winner X Y Jet outbroke me so I had to track him. The pace wasn’t that fast, so X Y Jet was able to get a pretty easy time in front and that’s why I came out three-wide before the turn to challenge. My guy ran on pretty good but I never felt we were going to get there. With a stronger pace it might have been different.”
Robby Albarado, rider of fourth Promises Fulfilled: “He missed the break a little bit and that cost him his position. This kind of races you can’t make any mistakes and he did, a little mistake there.”
Jockey Pat Dobbs on Drafted’s fifth: “He had a disaster run. He jumped OK but the horse on the outside (Switzerland) came over and he got taken out of the race. He resented the kickback after that but has run an amazing race to finish fifth.”