Valiant Boy SBFAR, the 2012 Arabian Horse of the Year and champion 4-year-old colt or gelding, added a Churchill Downs stakes win to his résumé with a five-length score over In X Hess in Saturday’s $103,695 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup (Grade I) at Churchill Downs.
First staged in 2011, this was only the second Arabian race at the world-famous home of the Kentucky Derby. It also was one of five graded stakes races run under the lights Saturday as part of Churchill Downs’ special “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka” nighttime racing program.
Valiant Boy SBFAR, a 5-year-old son of Darweesh owned by Guy Neivens, gave trainer Ron Martino his second win in the race at Churchill Downs. Martino won with Sam Vasquez’s T M Fred Texas two years ago.
Sent to post as the 6-5 favorite in the field of eight, Valiant Boy SBFAR clocked 1 1/16 miles in 1:55.10 under jockey Joe Rocco Jr.
Smoke House, the champion Arabian 3-year-old colt or gelding of 2012, set the early pace of :27.41, :54.95 and 1:21.90 with Valiant Boy SBFAR settled off the inside near the back but no more than four lengths from the leader. The winner advanced between horses on the final turn, angled out five wide with a quarter mile to run and took over with an eighth of a mile to run. He quickly drew clear for the win.
It was his seventh win in 15 starts and the $61,650 payday jumped his earnings to $170,020.
Valiant Boy SBFAR paid $4.40, $3.20 and $2.20. In X Hess, ridden by Corey Lanerie, returned $6.60 and $4.60. Smoke House, under Ricardo Santana Jr., finished third and paid $2.40. Spin Doctor, Sand Blastt, So Big Is Better, Secret Treasour and Vip completed the order of finish.
The President of the UAE Cup Series was established more than two decades ago to promote and celebrate the Arabian breed internationally. It was the first international racing series for Arabian horses and continues to be considered as the world’s premier racing series for the breed.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES CUP QUOTES
Ron Martino, trainer of VALIANT BOY SBFAR, winner: “I don’t care how many races like this you win, it’s always special. To get lucky enough to get a good rider like Joe to ride our horse…we felt we had a super horse. It’s nice being able to train the best caliber horse for the people we train for. They’re great owners. It’s a lot of teamwork.”
Q. At what point in the race did you know you were going to win? “When they went across the wire. You never know what happens. You feel more comfortable as you’re coming down the lane. You’re watching your horse on the backside and he’s laying like you hoped he would. The way everything starts unraveling, the whole race itself just takes its place.”
Joe Rocco Jr., rider on VALIANT BOY SBFAR, winner: “He has gears. It was more or less keeping him out of trouble and giving him a path to run. Once he found it, he accelerated. It was nice because I got to see everyone start moving and asking their horse. I still waited there. I kind of had an idea how much horse everyone else had. He had gears today.”
Corey Lanerie, rider on IN X HESS, runner-up: “Other than that we went slower, it wasn’t a whole lot different. It was a horse race. (Trainer Lynn Ashby) told me to stay off the pace and make a quarter-mile run. I tried to cut the corner on the favorite (Valiant Boy SBFAR) and get away from him, but he was just too good.”
Ricardo Santana Jr., rider on SMOKE HOUSE, third: “My horse had only run three races and he’s young. The other horses were older. He’ll be a very good horse.”
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