California Chrome's Kabirkhan Up To The 'Challenge'

Kabirkhan | Dubai Racing Club


Kabirkhan (California Chrome) continued a most improbable fairy-tale run at the Dubai Racing Carnival, as he raced prominently following a bit of a sluggish dispatch and powered home late to easily take out Friday's US$1-million G1 Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan.

The chestnut with a big white blaze–eerily reminiscent of his G1 Dubai World Cup-winning sire–was returning just a fortnight after annexing a 2000-metre handicap, and for all intents and purposes forced the hand of trainer Doug Watson. After racing for next to no prize-money while winning eight of nine starts in Kazakhstan and Russia–he picked up about $20,000 for running second to now barnmate Hero Mo (Mo Town) in last year's Russian Derby–it made sense to wheel back on the short rest, the significantly stiffer competition and sub-optimal spacing notwithstanding.

Favoured on the international markets, the $12,000 Keeneland September bargain raced ahead of midfield in about fifth position as First Constitution (Chi) (Constitution) burned plenty of fuel and took over from Walk of Stars (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) to inject some pace into his race for the commonly owned GIII Lukas Classic winner Clapton (Brethren). Three wide and right there to pounce for the run around the turn, Kabirkhan went for home three off the inside in upper stretch, took over a furlong and a half from home and had four lengths on Franz Strauss (GB) (Golden Horn {GB}) on the wire in a solid clocking for the 1900 metres.

Trainer Chad Summers indicated pre-race that they would be content to race Clapton wide so as not to be trapped inside as they were when finishing down the field in the GI Breeders' Cup Classic when last seen. Five deep on the circle, Clapton plugged on gamely for Antonio Fresu and managed to cling on for third.

Kabirkhan is the first Northern Hemisphere Group 1 winner for the expatriated California Chrome and the first Thoroughbred Grade I winner in the distinguished career of trainer Doug Watson.

“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.”

Added the winning jockey, also ringing up his first top-level Thoroughbred success: “This is massive for everyone, especially Doug. He's such a good mover, he [Kabirkhan] doesn't feel like he's doing the times he is. Doug has a smile on his face whenever he sees him.”

Pedigree Notes:

There were roughly 200 horses left to sell during the 11th and final session of the 2021 Keeneland September sale when Nadir Khassanov paid $12,000 for the California Chrome colt from the Mulholland Springs consignment.

Kehner Thoroughbreds' Kyle Kehner acquired Kabirkhan's stakes-winning dam for $85,000 in foal to Fort Larned at the 2014 Keeneland November Sale and Kabirkhan is one of three winners from as many to the races for the mare. The dam of a 3-year-old colt by Yoshida (Jpn), Little Emily's 2-year-old colt by Global Campaign has been exported to Kazakhstan, but she failed to produce a foal in 2023 after selling for the upset price of $1,000 to Jacob Sherman at Keeneland January last winter. She had been bred to Omaha Beach on a late cover, but was listed as not pregnant in the catalogue. Little Emily is due to Lookin At Lucky this season.

Friday, Meydan, Dubai
AL MAKTOUM CHALLENGE PRESENTED BY LONGINES-G1, AED3,680,000, Meydan, 1-26, 3yo/up, 9 1/2f, 1:57.72, ft.
1–KABIRKHAN, 125, c, 4, by California Chrome
                1st Dam: Little Emily, by Castledale (Ire)
                2nd Dam: Emily's Charm, by Dom Alaric (Fr)
                3rd Dam: Slight Deception, by Northern Dancer
1ST STAKES WIN, 1ST GROUP WIN, 1ST GROUP 1 WIN. ($12,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP). O-Tlek Mukanbetkaliyev; B-Kehner Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY); T-Doug Watson; J-Pat Dobbs. AED2,208,000. Lifetime Record: 11-10-1-0, $667,514. Click for the free catalogue-style pedigree. Werk Nick Rating: D. Click for the eNicks report & five-cross pedigree.
2–Franz Strauss (GB), 126, h, 5, Golden Horn (GB)–Favulusa (GB), by Dansili (GB). 1ST BLACK-TYPE, 1ST GROUP 1 BLACK-TYPE. (80,000gns Wlg '19 TATDEC; AED280,000 HRA '22 ERASEP). O-Greg Bryce; B-Razza del Sole Societa Agricola SRL (GB); T-Bhupat Seemar. AED736,000.
3–Clapton, 126, h, 5, Brethren–Alexandra Rylee, by Afleet Alex. ($35,000 RNA Ylg '20 KEESEP; $20,000 2yo '21 OBSJUN). O-RRR Racing; B-Arindel (FL); T-Chad Summers. AED368,000.
Margins: 4 3/4, NK, SHD.
Also Ran: Desert Wisdom (GB), Walk Of Stars (GB), Military Law (GB), Atletico El Culano (Uru), First Constitution (Chi), Mimi Kakushi, Everfast, Celtic Prince (GB), Made In Dubai (GB). Click for the ERA chart and VIDEO.



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