Saturday, 20 February, 2021
Despite a layoff since August, some eleventh-hour rain and a minor delay to the start of the race, form rang true in the US $1,000,000 1351 Turf Sprint sponsored by stc when Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby-trained Space Blues (IRE) asserted himself in the final 200m.
Ridden to perfection by William Buick, the compact 5-year-old son of Dubawi broke from barrier two and sat comfortably in the second flank as early fractions were carved out by Krispen (IRE) and Urban Icon (GB).
Always keeping an eye on the Allan Smith-trained defending champion Dark Power (USA) and jockey Frankie Dettori - galloping just ahead - Buick leaned the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest winner to the outside, joining Appleby stablemate Glorious Journey (GB) as they commenced four and five-wide rallies around the bend.
Hitting the stretch with a couple of lengths to find on the leaders, Space Blues accelerated nicely in the final 300m, overpowering last year’s victor over the unique 1351m distance. The final margin was three-quarters of a length back to Dark Power, with a neck back to Urban Icon and Joel Rosario in third. The win was a bit of redemption for Appleby, whose Mubtasim and Glorious Journey were second and third to Dark Power in 2020’s inaugural running.
Charlie Appleby, trainer, Space Blues, 1st: "Absolutely delighted with that. We knew he was a class horse coming into the race and he had a lovely draw. I could see (the ground) was a bit loose for him and our concern was that he might just spin a bit on it, but he’s come back on the bridle turning in like a class horse and put the race to bed at the right time. He travels for fun, watching the race there. I’ll be interested to see what William has to say because obviously Dubai World Cup night has to be taken into consideration."
William Buick, jockey, Space Blues: "We had a great run through. He broke well and I didn’t want to be too close to the pace. The pace was perfect. It wasn’t too hot or too slow. I followed Frankie (Dettori) before the split in the straight. It was how I hoped the race would pan out. He was the best horse and I didn’t want to go for any heroics. You’d imagine this would set him for the Al Quoz."
Frankie Dettori, jockey, Dark Power, 2nd: "I had a good race. I got the cover and we ran pretty much the same race as last year. He ran well and I was delighted to have him back in great form. The winner is a Group 1 horse, let's not forget. There is just some water on the track, it still rides beautifully."
Allan Smith, trainer, Dark Power: "Charlie’s horse was always coming, but no disgrace for Dark Power. He ran a fantastic race and Frankie gave it a good run. It was pretty much copybook to last year. He ran a little bit with the choke out early on, but Frankie got him settled. He got into a nice rhythm around the bend and I was delighted with him. And good luck to Charlie. We’d done him last year and he’s done us this year. We’ve been invited to the Dubai World Cup meeting for the Al Quoz and I suppose if anything that’ll be his next move.”
Joel Rosario, jockey, Urban Icon, 3rd: "That was good - he broke well; it took him a little bit to get a position, but turning for home, for a second I thought he was going to go on, but there were strong horses coming at the end there, the first two. He ran good, though."
Rest of jockey quotes:
James Doyle, jockey, Glorious Journey, 4th: "He ran a good race. He got a little bit restless in the gates so we started a little bit slow but we ended up being in a nice position. When Space Blues came past me I just struggled to keep tabs with him, but he ran well and it was a great result for the team."
Adrie de Vries, Land of Legends, 5th: "I jumped well. I got on for the speed a little bit then I lost a bit of position. He came back good in the straight. He could do with a little bit further, he’s a seven-furlong (1400m) horse. This was a bit short for him."
Cristian Demuro, Momkin, 6th: "He ran good but he stopped a little bit."
Alexis Moreno, Krispen, 9th: “My horse had good speed but he did not finish well. The best horse won the race. Best of luck for everybody."