By Way of Kazakhstan, Group 1-Winning Son of California Chrome Sent to Brad Cox

Kabirkhan | Dubai Racing Club

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Kabirkhan (California Chrome), who won his first three starts in Kazakhstan on his way to winning the G1 Al Maktoum Challenge in Dubai, has been sent to the U.S. and will be trained by Brad Cox.

Kabirkhan was purchased at the 2021 Keeneland September sale for $12,000 by agent Nadir Khassanov and was then shipped to Kazakhstan, which has just one racetrack and a horse population of about 300. Running at Almaty Hippodrome, he broke his maiden in a three-horse race after breaking slowly.

For owner Tlek Mukanbetkaliyev, the chestnut won his next two starts in Kazakhstan, winning so easily that it was clear that no horse in that country could compete with him. He was living up to his name, Kabir is Arabic for mighty or great and Khan is Kazakh for King. Yet, his total earnings after those three races in Kazakhstan were the equivalent of $3,458.

Looking for bigger purses and greater challenges, the connections sent the colt to Russia. There he won five straight races, but his winning streak ended when he was second in the Russian Derby behind Hero Mo (Mo Town).

The next stop was Dubai, where he was trained by Doug Watson. In his first start there, he won a handicap race over the same Hero Mo–also conditioned in Dubai by Watson–who had defeated him in Russia. He followed that with a win in the $1-million Al Maktoum Challenge.

“He might be the best mile-and-a-quarter horse I've ever trained,” said Watson. “We'll see what the owners want to do next, but I'm glad he's in our yard. I'm delighted for our team, [jockey] Pat [Dobbs] and of course everybody in Kazakhstan.”

The fairy tale took a wrong turn when Kabirkhan finished a distant eighth in the G1 Dubai World Cup.

After the World Cup, Kabirkhan was shipped to the U.S. and sent to WinStar Farm to get acclimated to the U.S. Cox said he arrived at his barn at Churchill Downs last Sunday.

“I just got him,” he said. “He's a big, good-looking horse. All we've done with him so far is to gallop him a couple of days. I've had a couple of conversations with the owner, who seems like a nice fellow. I am looking forward to getting this horse up and going.”

Cox said he hasn't decided when to give Kabirkhan his first breeze or where he will kick off his U.S. campaign.

“I just want to see how he moves forward over the next week or so,” the trainer said. “It's like a big puzzle. You're hoping you can put it together. Based off what we have in our barn in the division, I think we'll have a pretty good idea of what we have before we run him. Obviously, I have to get to know the horse and what his tendencies are and how he is as a work horse. We can work him with some of the better older horses we have and that will give us a good line on where he stacks up. It will be interesting.”

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