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Dubai World Cup

Dubai World Cup: Fly Down in focus
by Geir Stabell / Globeform
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Fly Down progressed well throughout his three-year-old campaign and his last race of the year was his best.

He finished third behind Blame and Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs in November. Doing best of the three-year-olds, he confirmed his place among the elite that day, and the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) is now on his agenda.

This colt bypassed both the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1), to focus on the second half of the season. After beating Drosselmeyer by 6 lengths to land the 9-furlong Dwyer Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park in May, Fly Down was strongly fancied for the third leg of the US Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes (G1), the following month. The step up to 12 furlongs (2400 metres) was not expected to trouble him, and the distance probably wasn't the reason for his defeat. Fly Down finished well, though overall his performance was not as good as the one we saw in the Dwyer. Drosselmeyer turned the form around to the tune of almost seven lengths, as he won the Belmont, beating Fly Down by length. Fly Down just got up to take second in the last couple of strides, beating First Dude by a neck. First Dude had been a good runner-up to Lookin At Lucky in the Preakness three weeks earlier.

The best part of two months passed before Fly Down's next outing. He ran a dull race on his return, finishing fifth of eight behind A Little Warm in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga in late July. It was clear that he needed the run, and he came back a lot sharper in the Travers Stakes (G1) at the same track a month later, to lose a nail biting battle with Afleet Express. Fly Down looked the stronger with 200 yards left of the 10-furlong event, but Afleet Express's nose hit the wire first. That was the winning margin, just a nose. The Belmont and Travers results pretty much summed up the 2010 season for trainer Nick Zito, who had previously also saddled big race runners-up Ice Box (Kentucky Derby) and Jackson Bend (Wood Memorial). Zito's best three-year-olds kept on making good money by 'hitting the board' as they say in the US, but Zito was looking for a big win.

He could hardly have aimed higher, when he set out to take the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) with Fly Down. After getting his prep run against older horses in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park in October, taking third behind Haynesfield, Fly Down came to Churchill Downs as one of the longshots for the Classic where the fantastic mare Zenyatta was going for her 20th win in as many starts. She came so close, but was narrowly denied by Blame, while Fly Down ran the race of his life to finish third, beaten no more than 3 lengths. Jockey Julien Leparoux rode a perfect race on the colt, as he waited patiently at the back early on (with only Zenyatta behind him). Fly Down chased Zenyatta as she made her move and, though he was not up to giving her a race, he kept on really gamely to the winning post and produced an impressive performance. He beat the Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky by a neck for third.

Fly Down is a horse that has improved gradually with age and experience, and his form is bordering on top class. Just the type to progress again at four, he has more than enough stamina for the Dubai World Cup (G1) trip and is an interesting contender, though he has yet to race on an artificial track. He made his seasonal debut in the Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream Park in February, running a moderate fifth to Giant Oak. It was a performance quite similar to his run in last year's Jim Dandy, which served as a prep for a big effort in the Travers.

His sire, Mineshaft, was North American Horse of The Year in 2003, when he won four Grade Ones; the Pimlico Special Handicap (G1), Suburban Handicap (G1), Woodward Stakes (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). He is the sire of last year's King's Bishop Stakes (G1) winner Discreetly Mine and has also sired G2 winning three-year-olds Casino Drive and Cool Coal Man. His son Dialed In is a leading contender for this year's Kentucky Derby (G1), having won the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) in impressive style on his second start. Like Fly Down, Dialed In is trained by Nick Zito.

Fly Down is a half-brother to Seafree (Chief Seattle), a classy filly who took the La Canada Stakes (G2) as a four-year-old, when she also ran third in the Santa Margarita Stakes (G1) - both over 9 furlongs at Santa Anita. Their dam, the Fly So Free daughter Queen Randi, is a half-sister to two good earners in Randi's Pleasure (winner of 15 races) and Prince Randi (6 wins).



Published: 2011-03-02 05:18:11

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