Unplaced in the past two editions of the Godolphin Mile (G2), Nasir Askar’s Secret Ambition got the job done in Saturday’s $750,000 renewal on the Dubai World Cup card at Meydan.
One of four in the line-up for trainer Satish Seemar, Secret Ambition is often dependent upon how he breaks. The 10-1 chance signaled right away that he was on his game from post 2, and once in front early with Tadhg O’Shea, widened his advantage into the stretch. Secret Ambition ran out a dominant six-length winner in a final time of 1:35.36.
The 32-1 Golden Goal was best of the rest in a blanket finish for the minors. A neck back was Florida shipper Avant Garde, who made terrific late headway on the inside. Fourth-placer Snapper Sinclair uncorked a sustained rally out wide to edge Saudi representative Urban Icon and fellow American Parsimony.
The riders of both Avant Garde and Snapper Sinclair were left disappointed by how the race panned out.
“It was not the trip we expected,” Luis Saez said of Avant Garde. “We tried to be a little bit closer but he looked like when he broke he really couldn’t get on, you know? And then we were way behind. He closed pretty hard, but it was a little late. He just couldn’t get a hold of the ground. I think if he was right there close he would have been tough.”
“He broke OK, not super-fast,” Joel Rosario said of Snapper Sinclair, “and I had to be wide the whole time. I never have a chance to get inside and then it was just a wide trip. I wish I was drawn on the inside.”
Next came Chiefdom; 4-5 favorite Midnight Sands, who regressed off his big comeback score in the Burj Nahaar (G3) on Super Saturday; the Seemar duo of Roman Rosso and Tuz; Ambassadorial; Blown by Wind; Dieu du Vin; Dubai Mirage; and Seemar’s 62-1 longshot, Rodaini.
“All week I’ve been saying that in this race there was no more experienced horse for this distance,” Seemar said. “At the post position draw, he was prominent in every race they would show him in the videos. He’s the most deserving horse in this field and most experienced and it’s perfect.
“With us they improve as they get older, and this has worked out well. As planned, Tadhg did it by the book. This is what we live for here in our jobs. Nothing better than having a winner on this night.”
Secret Ambition’s breakthrough in this race was presaged by his finally winning the course-and-distance Firebreak (G3), in his third attempt Feb. 4, after distant seconds in 2019 and 2020. In the meantime, the eight-year-old entire tried about 1 1/4 miles in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (G1) and wound up fifth. His resume reads 42-11-11-2, $1,172,384, reflecting scores in the 2019 Jebel Ali Mile (G3) and Dubai Creek Mile and placings in seven fixtures in the mile division, notably the 2020 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 (G2).
“Satish told me the other day he was the best horse in the race and how right he was,” O’Shea said.
“We tried 2000 meters with him last time and that didn’t work. I had a lovely gate today and luckily Secret Ambition was on his best behavior and he wasn’t on the back foot jumping, so he broke well. I wanted to get to the lead if at all possible and luckily I was able to and it worked out good. I filled him up before I kicked. He went for his wind and had a nice breather, so I had plenty left and I felt if anyone came to me, he would pull out again.”
O’Shea took the opportunity to honor Sheikh Hamdan, who passed away Wednesday.
“The whole racing world sadly lost Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum this week, and I want to dedicate this to him. It was when I was champion apprentice in Ireland in 2001 that Sheikh Hamdan sponsored a trip to Dubai, and I’m coming back here ever since. I have been here a long time and it wouldn’t have been possible without him.”
Secret Ambition was bred by Darley in Great Britain. The son of Exceed and Excel is a half-brother to Group 1 winner Royal Marine, seventh in the Dubai Gold Cup (G2) as the next race on the card, as well as to stakes scorer Crystal River. They were all produced by Inner Secret, a Singspiel half to Group 1-winning milers Librettist and Dubai Destination, from the further family of Japanese stars Hishi Akebono and Agnes World.