Starspangledbanner's California Spangle Shatters Record In Al Quoz Sprint

California Spangle breaks record in Al Quoz Sprint | Erika Rasmussen


Saturday's G1 Al Quoz Sprint resulted in a track record-setting victory for Hong Kong, with one of their star gallopers–CALIFORNIA SPANGLE (IRE) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}–Pearlitas Passion {Ire}, by High Chaparral {Ire})–running out an emotional winner in more ways than one. Originally racing for Howard Liang, the Michael Enright-bred 6-year-old gelding now races for Liang's estate, as he died several months ago. It was also the first victory for Hong Kong in the race since Amber Sky (Aus) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}) captured a 1000-metre version 10 years previously.

The winner cruised up to track the early leader Ponntos (Ire) (Power {GB}) in this straight test. Always moving freely well off the fence, California Spangle seized the baton with 400 metres to travel, while in a smooth rhythm under Brenton Avdulla. Not asked for much while just ahead on the front end, the bay nevertheless was holding his rivals safe, despite never opening up daylight. Star Of Mystery (GB) (Kodiac {GB}), a 'TDN Rising Star' in the capable hands of Frankie Dettori, was weaving her way toward the Hong Kong raider while in receipt of 13 pounds, but no matter how hard she tried, she was unable to bridge the gap and settled for second, three-quarters of a length behind. It was the same margin back to Diligent Harry (GB) (Due Diligence), who had also made up ground to be third.

The time of 1:07.50 lowered the course record of 1:07.61 set by Wildman Jack (Goldencents) in the 2020 G3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint.

Winning trainer Tony Cruz said, “I knew it would happen sooner or later. I got this opportunity and I came with a lot of confidence that we would win this race today.

“The family–the 'California family'–is here today. Howard Liang, whose horses usually are named California, passed away recently so I would like to dedicate this win to him. We are over the moon with this, the owner's wish was always to win these big races. I wish he was here tonight but his whole family is here and we're going to celebrate together.”

Representing the owners, Chester Liang said, “The horse means a lot to my family and I and I'm really happy that we were able to win. Tony said if he won last time in Hong Kong, then we'd come. He did, we decided the horse was in good form, so we came. This was my dad's favourite horse, so he always means a lot. He is probably looking down on us.”

An €150,000 yearling out of the Goffs Orby Sale in 2019, the bay was later bought by Badgers Bloodstock for the late Howard Liang. He first began accruing group victories in 2022, and signed off that campaign with a neck victory in the G1 Hong Kong Mile over Hong Kong superstar Golden Sixty (Aus) (Medaglia d'Oro) that December. The consistent gelding continued to burnish his resume with scores in the G2 Chairman's Trophy and G2 Sha Tin Trophy H. last term. However, he would go winless in his next four starts, until claiming the G1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup by a length earlier this month.

“I think we'll go into sprint races back in Hong Kong, that's the end of April [the G1 Chairman's Sprint Prize],” Cruz added. “We'll take on Lucky Sweynesse (Aus) (Lonhro {Aus}). He's always been a sprinter-miler and I believe he's more a sprinter than a miler.”

Asked about Royal Ascot, he said, “It's a possibility. I've got to try to work it out.”


Pedigree Notes

A winner of the G1 Golden Jubilee S. just like his sire, Starspangledbanner has sired 38 stakes winners (25 group) worldwide and spends his time shuttling between Coolmore Stud in Ireland and Coolmore Australia. With his Al Quoz Sprint victory, California Spangle has now taken four top-level races, which puts him on par with his sire's other four-time Group/Grade 1 winner–Rathbarry Stud stallion State Of Rest (Ire). Other Group 1 winners sired by Starspangledbanner include G1 Prix Morny hero The Wow Signal (Ire) who was bred on the same Starspangledbanner–High Chaparral cross, G1 Cheveley Park S. heroine Millisle (Ire), GI American Oaks victress Rhea Moon (Ire), and G1 Prix Jean Romanet winner Aristia (Ire).

The late High Chaparral did his best work at stud from the Southern Hemisphere. Already the sire of 75 stakes winners (42 group) internationally as a broodmare sire, High Chaparral has 14 Grade/Group 1 winners worldwide. California Spangle is his best runner in that sphere.

The deceased Pearlitas Passion delivered nine foals, and five of them are winners anchored by Saturday's winner. The Lope De Vega (Ire) gelding Wychwood Warrior (Ire) was placed in both the Listed Platinum S. and Listed Patton S. in Ireland, as well as once at that level in the UAE. The 4-year-old filly Alchimia (Ire) (Fast Company {Ire}) has yet to race, as does Pearlitas Passion's final foal–a full-brother to the winner who just turned two. The last-named horse did not meet his reserve when unsold for €400,000 at the Goffs Orby Sale in 2023.

Under the placed second dam Paimpolaise (Ire) (Priolo) is the G2 Hungerford S. and G3 Solario S. hero Shakespearean (Ire) (Shamardal). However, Paimpolaise is a half-sister to three stakes horses, with the best of them the four-time stakes producer Pont-Aven (Ire) (Try My Best), a winner of the G3 Prix de Saint-Georges, who played bridesmaid in the 1990 G1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches.

Saturday, Meydan, Dubai
AL QUOZ SPRINT SPONSORED BY AZIZI DEVELOPMENTS-G1, AED1,500,000, Meydan, 3-30, 3yo/up, 6fT, 1:07.50, gd.
1–CALIFORNIA SPANGLE (IRE), 130, g, 6, by Starspangledbanner (Aus)
                1st Dam: Pearlitas Passion (Ire), by High Chaparral (Ire)
                2nd Dam: Paimpolaise (Ire), by Priolo
                3rd Dam: Basilea (Fr), by Frere Basile (Fr)
(€150,000 Ylg '19 GOFOCT). O-The Executors of the Estate of
the Late Howard Liang Yum Shing; B-Michael Enright (IRE);
T-Tony Cruz; J-Brenton Avdulla. $870,000. Lifetime Record:
MG1SW-HK, 25-13-6-2, $9,500,774. *1/2 to Wychwood
Warrior (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}), MSP-Ire. Click for the
   free catalogue-style pedigree. Werk Nick
   Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*. Click for the
   eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Star Of Mystery (GB), 117, f, 3, Kodiac (GB)–Mistrusting (Ire),
by Shamardal. TDN Rising Star. 1ST GROUP 1 BLACK TYPE.
O/B-Godolphin (Ire); T-Charlie Appleby. $300,000.
3–Diligent Harry (GB), 130, g, 6, Due Diligence–Harryana To
(GB), by Compton Place (GB). 1ST GROUP 1 BLACK TYPE.
(£38,000 Ylg '19 GOFFPR). O-The Dilinquents; B-Whitsbury
Manor Stud (GB); T-Clive Cox. $150,000.
Margins: 3/4, 3/4, 3/4.
Also Ran: Bilhayl (Ire), Sight Success (Aus), Casa Creed, Emaraaty Ana (GB), King Gold (Fr), Danyah (Ire), Frost At Dawn, Jasper Krone, Ponntos (Ire). Click for the ERA chart & video.


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