Grilla topped his seven rivals in the $22,400 and set a track record for his one mile stakes run at the H.H. Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Arabian Cup at the Sam Houston Race Park in Houston.
Owned and bred by Florida horseman Bill Waldron, the 5-year-old son of Kong out of the Wiking mare Dixie Darlene, has won three of his four starts in graded stakes company at Delaware Park and Keeneland.
Top Arabian rider, William Hollick had a smooth break from the starting gate and drew off to a three-length victory in a final time of 1:47.14. The effort resulted in a new track record, besting the previous time of 1:47.700 set by Stellarr on February 22, 2003.
“He lived up to his name,” said Hollick. “He really is a gorilla! He was tough to rate early on. I wanted to go a little slower early on, but Mr. Waldron said not to fight him. He got a little tired at the end; it was a severe head win tonight. He’s a nice horse.”
“I didn’t expect to set a track record, but it makes me happy,” added Waldron. “We’ll go to Delaware Park next.”
TM Fred Texas entered the stakes off a three-race win streak and closed well under jockey Jose Figueroa as the runner-up. Owned by Sam Vasquez, the 4-year-old colt won the Texas Six Shooter on March 4 and has a lifetime record of five wins from six starts.
Chriss SWA ran third, followed by TM Let It Be, Status Symboll, Dancers Traveler, Danceforever and My Zoom Zell.
The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is the founder of the United Arab Emirates. He established special stables in Abu Dhabi, designed to raise and care for horses at an early stage and allow for the preservation of the unique Arabian horse breed. He encouraged increased ownership of Arabian horses, and thus improved both their breeding and their capabilities.
In 2009, the H.H. Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival was initiated to showcase pure-bred Arabian race horses. The 2011 global racing series begins on Saturday evening at Sam Houston Race Park with nine dates at racetracks in the United States, France, Holland, Germany and Poland. The festival culminates with the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Prestige Cup at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on November 6, 2011.