Valiant Boy SBFAR, the 2012 Arabian Horse of the Year, was able to edge out RB Champagne Taste in the closing stages of the $100,000 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup (Grade I) by three quarters of a length, thus successfully defending his title in the race he won a year ago under the Twin Spires.
First run in 2011, this was the third time that a race for purebred Arabian horses was staged at the world-famous Churchill Downs. It also was the fifth and final stakes race run on the special “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka” night racing card that attracted 21,671 fans.
Valiant Boy SBFAR, a 6-year-old son of Darweesh owned by Guy Neivens, had not raced since winning the 2013 Valour Farms Arabian Stakes at Delaware Park in July of last year.
The victory was the fifth consecutive win for Valiant Boy SBFAR and the first win under the Twin Spires for his new trainer Elizabeth Merriman.
Sent off as the odds-on favorite in a field of seven, Valiant Boy SBFAR clocked 1 1/16 miles in 1:55.10 with jockey Joe Rocco Jr. aboard.
Burning Fleet got off to an early lead, setting the opening fractions in :26.80 and :53.70 while Valiant Boy SBFAR settled in fourth through the opening half mile. RB Champagne Taste then took over after three quarters of a mile in 1:21.03 and mile in 1:49.15, but it was not enough to withstand the late charge of Valiant Boy SBFAR who wore down RB Champagne Taste in the final sixteenth of a mile.
This marked the ninth win in 17 starts for Valiant Boy SBFAR, moving his career earnings to $248,020.
The winner returned $3.40, $2.80 and $2.40. RB Champagne Taste with jockey Juan Torres paid $6.60 and $4.20 and third-place finisher Brute rewarded backers with $3.20 to show. Rounding out the order of finish was 2013 Champion 4-year-old colt or gelding Smoke House, In X Hess, Burning Fleet and 2011 Champion Older Horse Grilla, who pulled up and was vanned off.
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES CUP QUOTES
JOE ROCCO JR., jockey of Valiant Boy SBFAR (winner) – “He ran very well today. The horse in front of me was fighting hard and my horse was getting tired but he timed it right and got to the wire first. The only difference between the horse this year and last year was he had a race under his belt going into it last year. This year he’s come off a long layoff and we were a little concerned about his fitness level, but he handled himself well. Good horses make good jockeys; whether it’s Thoroughbred, Arabian, it doesn’t matter. We’re all in the same boat, we all need nice horses.”
ELIZABETH MERRYMAN, trainer of Valiant Boy SBFAR (winner) – “There were a bunch of really nice horses in there today and it was hard for him coming off of such a long layoff without a prep race. But he fought his way through and his class showed. Joe and I talked in the paddock beforehand that without a prep race, we were going to have to use his energy wisely and he did. We were very proud of him.”