Last seen wiring the Oct. 25 Prix Royal-Oak (G1) at ParisLongchamp, Dr. J. Walker’s Subjectivist warranted respect in Saturday’s $750,000 Dubai Gold Cup (G2) at Meydan. But quibbles about his best form being on soft or heavy going, perhaps combined with trainer Mark Johnston’s underwhelming record in Dubai, led to his drifting to 6-1. The son of Teofilo brushed all of that aside with a course-record demolition job.
Subjectivist benefited from a clever ride by Joe Fanning, who kept close tabs on the 86-1 pacesetter For the Top. As the rest of the field was lulled into a false sense of security, Fanning launched Subjectivist early, and they nicked an insurmountable advantage. The four-year-old opened up by 5 3/4 lengths while lowering Vazirabad’s 2018 course record from 3:17.92 to 3:17.77.
Mickaelle Michel aboard Germany’s Walderbe was the other jockey to grasp the race flow. Her bid to improve position on the backstretch likely helped the 50-1 shot snatch second. The 71-1 Away He Goes was another head away in third.
Secret Advisor, the 0.75-1 favorite, lacked his usual spark in a distant fourth. Spanish Mission lost ground at the decisive juncture and came again belatedly in fifth, closing the gap with Secret Advisor to just a half-length. Royal Marine continued his poor form in seventh, followed by Red Verdon, Mekong, and the distanced For the Top and Volcanic Sky.
“We’ve had Carnival winners, but this is the first success on World Cup night for 22 years,” Johnston said, alluding to his 1999 Dubai Sheema Classic winner Fruits of Love.
“But frankly, we hadn’t been bringing the right horses. We came here today thinking surely he was the one to beat. He was a Group 1 winner on his last outing. He didn’t have to improve; he just had to run up to his best.
“People doubted him on the ground but he’d just never run on anything this fast. When I walked the course I didn’t think I’d seen a turf track in the world in a better condition than this.
“All the ducks were in a row and there was no reason he shouldn’t run up to his best, which he has done.”
Fanning, who was making a memorable debut at Meydan, offered a slightly different take on the course.
“He’s a good horse and there was a bit of juice in that ground, which suited him,” Fanning said. “He settled well and I was always going so easy before the turn in. He stays very well. I rode him out here yesterday and thought the ground was good. I think he’ll go on any surface. He’s a good horse and has loads of ability and I think he’s a better horse this year.”
A half-brother to stablemate Sir Ron Priestley, the 2019 March S. (G3) winner and St Leger (G1) runner-up, Subjectivist was able to emulate him in the former but not the latter. After a 15-length gallop in the Aug. 29 March at a soggy Goodwood, Subjectivist retreated to seventh in the Sept. 12 St Leger on a good course at Doncaster. He’d had mixed results on a sounder surface before, winning the Glasgow S. at Hamilton and placing third in the King George V at Royal Ascot as well as the Gordon S. (G3) at Glorious Goodwood. But his sophomore finale at a heavy ParisLongchamp reinforced his affinity for boggy conditions. His Dubai heroics advanced his resume to 16-5-4-2, $692,835.
Bred by Mascalls Stud in Great Britain, Subjectivist is out of the multiple stakes-placed Reckoning. The Danehill Dancer mare is also responsible for last fall’s Rockfel (G2) third Alba Rose, trained by Johnston like her half-brothers.