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Godolphin’s Long Held Derby Dream Enticingly Close

Author: Michele MacDonald


IT’S never too late for dreams to come true… …Almost two decades after Sheikh Mohammed declared that the Kentucky Derby was the race he most wanted to win anywhere in the world, Godolphin may be able to enter this year’s Run for the Roses with a pair of admirable colts. Enticed, a beautifully bred son of Medaglia D’Oro out of Godolphin’s multiple Grade One winning filly It’s Tricky, redeemed himself with a flourish on 10 March, erasing a lacklustre performance in the Holy Bull Stakes last month with a rallying victory in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct in New York.

After gathering 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, which at this time of the year are more valuable than the $180,000 winner’s share of the purse, Enticed became the second highest ranked colt on the current Derby points list. He also joined his stablemate in trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s barn, Avery Island, as half of an enviable 1-2 punch for the Godolphin team heading into the American Classic season. A rewarding bonus is that both are homebreds by significant Darley stallions, with Avery Island sired by champion and Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense. Godolphin’s Jimmy Bell, president of the operation in the United States, said Enticed, who had always shown himself to be a colt full of potential, needed to come through in the Gotham after failing to be a factor in the Holy Bull won by Audible.

“That’s the Enticed we thought we had last year, ending up on such a high note with winning the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs last year,” Bell said after the Gotham. “You come back with high expectations over the winter and wanting to get off to a good start. We came out with more questions than answers in the Holy Bull. We’d like to say we can draw a line through it, and today was impressive. “He really needed to show us something today, which obviously he did in fine colours.

He was very professional and we’re very pleased,” he added. McLaughlin said the $750,000, Grade 2 Wood Memorial Stakes on 7 April at Aqueduct could be the next step for Enticed, although he planned to ship the colt from New York to his Florida training base at Palm Meadows to prepare for that event. “It was a great run and everything worked out perfect,” McLaughlin said of the Gotham, which was run on a dark, grey day on a track labelled fast but which seemed less than that description. Enticed crossed the finish line 2 ¾ lengths ahead of pacesetting Old Time Revival in a slow 1:38.24 for the one mile, but the good news is that the statuesque, still maturing colt was just getting into his best stride deep in the stretch.

McLaughlin replaced Enticed’s Holy Bull jockey, Joel Rosario, with Junior Alvarado in the Gotham, and the winning rider followed the trainer’s wishes to get Enticed to break from the gate well and stay in a clear path to avoid getting stuck on the inside or in traffic. “He broke good,” Alvarado said of the start from the outside post in the field of nine. “I wanted to make sure I kept him clear on the outside; I didn’t want to get him in trouble at all because he’s a horse that takes a while to get going. “As soon as we turned for home, I knew it was just a matter of time when he switched leads for him to give me that next gear.

As soon as he started moving along again, he was much the best horse today.” While Godolphin has started a pair of runners in the Kentucky Derby twice before, with Curule and UAE Derby winner China Visit in 2000 and another UAE Derby winner, Regal Ransom, and Desert Party in 2009, Enticed and Avery Island could be the strongest team yet, assuming both make it to the starting gate. Each colt has three wins in five career starts so far, but, more importantly, appears to have the class and stamina required to prevail over 1 ¼ miles on the first Saturday in May. Avery Island won his 2018 debut, the Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct in February and is being pointed at the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds in New Orleans on 24 March.

Avery Island breezed 5f at Palm Meadows on 9 March and earned praise from McLaughlin. “He worked very well and galloped out strong. He just seems like he’s gotten better with every work, from his 2yo season and now at three. He’s a big, strong colt with a long stride who is great mentally and just keeps improving all the time,” McLaughlin said. Until his Holy Bull setback, Enticed perhaps was regarded as the more promising of the pair, with his pedigree a factor in the assessment.

It’s Tricky won a trio of Grade One races and over $1.6 million; sadly, the mare died in 2017 after complications following the delivery of a stillborn foal by Pioneerof The Nile. Enticed’s career record has become all the more impressive in retrospect, considering the results of recent weeks. When he won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last November following a sustained drive and after being bumped and bothered at the break, Enticed defeated 13 rivals, including: Promises Fulfilled, who won the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes over Champion Juvenile Good Magic on 3 March; Quip, who rallied to win the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on 10 March, and Bravazo, currently third ranked in Derby qualifying points and winner of the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes on 17 February.

Godolphin’s first Kentucky Derby starter was Worldly Manner, who was privately purchased for the big race in 1999. The best finish to date was the fourth recorded by eventual multiple Grade One winner Frosted, also trained by McLaughlin, in American Pharoah’s Derby of 2015. Last year, Godolphin’s talented but at times tempestuous UAE Derby and European Group One winner Thunder Snow famously bucked after the start and was pulled up by Christophe Soumillon. While there is still much to be determined this season, including the points to be earned in upcoming prep races, Godolphin holds a strong hand at present. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the year that Sheikh Mohammed’s budding dream of roses will bloom.

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22 Mar 2018
Issue Number: Issue 641
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