Trainer Yoshito Yahagi masterminded another international coup early on Dubai World Cup Day, as the 60-1 Bathrat Leon stunned the $1 million Godolphin Mile (G2) in wire-to-wire fashion.
Not only was the Kizuna colt riding a six-race losing streak, but he had been well beaten out of the placings, ever since unseating his rider out of the gate in the NHK Mile Cup (G1). Nor did his lone dirt start in the Nov. 13 Musashino (G3) at Tokyo offer any hint. Bathrat Leon chased the pace on that occasion before retreating to 13th of 16 behind Soliste Thunder, Japan’s most logical Godolphin Mile contender.
Yet Bathrat Leon had shown ability early in his career, especially his five-length romp in last April’s New Zealand Trophy (G2). That appeared to be a breakthrough after a series of useful efforts. Third to a pair of future classic-winning fillies, champion Sodashi and Uberleben, in the 2020 Sapporo Nisai (G3), he was fourth to Grenadier Guards in that fall’s Asahi Hai Futurity (G1) and third to Pixie Knight in the 2021 Shinzan Kinen (G3) in his sophomore bow.
It was that version of Bathrat Leon who suddenly sprang back to life on the Meydan dirt. Urged along from his rail post by Ryusei Sakai, he had to work to get past Godolphin’s well-regarded Storm Damage, who was flashing good early speed in his dirt debut. Bathrat Leon was able to take command as they emerged from the chute and made their way onto the backstretch, and from that point on, he gained confidence.
In contrast, defending champion Secret Ambition didn’t make it to the front after a troubled start, and the nine-year-old couldn’t come up with a Plan B. His odds-on stablemate, Al Nefud, never looked comfortable and wound up easing home lame.
Bathrat Leon was in full flight swinging into the stretch, and he held sway in 1:36.03. Desert Wisdom, the winner of the Burj Nahaar (G3) on Super Saturday, was the only rival to gain on the longtime leader. Gamely persevering, Desert Wisdom reduced the margin to 1 1/4 lengths at the wire.
Storm Damage was a further 3 1/4 lengths back in third, with a four-length gap back to Soliste Thunder and Mubakker. Bankit, who stalked on the outside, reported home sixth, one spot ahead of Saudi hope Great Scot. Next came Algiers, Dubai Icon, Snapper Sinclair, Secret Ambition, Tuz, Golden Goal, slow-starting Full Flat, Pogo, and Al Nefud.
Hiroo Race Co.’s Bathrat Leon paid $123.70 while advancing his resume to 14-4-0-2.
“He’s a good strong frontrunner,” Yahagi said, “and we know the bends well, so he got a good start and he pushed and he was able to keep it up to the line. We got our tactics right.”
“The plan was to go forward and just go quick,” Sakai said. “Everything worked out and the horse kept going. I think he preferred the dirt surface here more than in Japan. Mr. Yahagi is one of the best trainers in the world. It’s a great result.”
“This was my dream and dreams come true. He (was expected) to run a good race in the last three days. His concentration is very good. I got the lead easily. He was traveling very well. I still wasn’t very confident because you have American horses in behind who have speed and are very good.”
Bathrat Leon is out of the New Approach mare Bathrat Amal, a half-sister to Grade/Group 1 heroine Serious Attitude, who is herself the dam of Grade 2 victor Stiffelio.