Ezpinoza, who became the first Triple Crown-winning jockey in 37 years when he guided Bob Baffert’s American Pharoah to victory in the 2015 Belmont Stakes, contested in his first ever race on a Purebred Arabian horse and emerged victorious.
It was a pairing of two stars-Paddys Day just after winning yet another pair of US Darley Awards the previous night and the man with over 3200 wins –Espinoza. And they obliged as Espinoza and Paddys Day demolished their 11 other rivals in the Grade I, $100,000 HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Darley Award Stakes at Santa Anita race course on Saturday.
The Scott Powell-trained Paddys Day finished ahead of Easter Man under Edwin Maldonado while in third place was Sand Victor under Hugo Herrera.
“In 20 to 30 years I thought I had ridden them all but this was my first ever experience with an Arabian horse. He did not give up just like a thoroughbred horse; it was just that the pace was a bit slower,” Espinoza said.
“This horse was full of run going into the far turn; we just had to find a way through. It’s an honor to be a part of this race.”
It was the second running of the Grade I, $100,000 HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Darley Award Stakes and also a huge relief for trainer Scott Powell as Paddys Day was beaten by Thess Is Awesome in a shock win last year when the Arabian race made its debut at Santa Anita.
“We thought we could win this race last year and we finished second, so this is really sweet. He definitely put it all together today,” said Scott who was named Best Trainer for 2016 in the Darley US Awards held on Friday night while Paddys Day scooped the Older Horse and Horse of the Year Award for 2016.
Earlier HE Abdulla Al Subose, UAE Consul General in Los Angeles, HE Mohammed Sultan Saif Al-Suwaidi, UAE Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman, HE Aref Al Awani representing Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Mubarak Al Nuaimi, Director of International Promotion at Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, Edward Hamod, General Manager of National Feed and Flour Production and Marketing Co. LLC, Sami Al Boeinain – IFAHR Chairman, ADEC Director General Adnan Sultan, Mussallam Al Marri of Al Jazira Stables Two, Ms. Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, Chairperson of the International Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA), Chairperson of Ladies & Apprentice Racing Committees and other US racing officials gave away the trophies.
Dubai World Cup winning jockey Mike Smith hails Festival’s support
Bob Baffert’s world champion Arrogate returned to his Santa Anita base around noon time on Saturday, looking amazingly fresh, considering he’d just come out of quarantine at Los Angeles International Airport following a roughly 20,000 mile round trip trek to Dubai, which resulted in a sensational 2 ¼ length win in last Saturday’s $10 million Dubai World Cup.
Arrogate’s Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith was also present at Santa Anita race track.
“This is exciting, I’ve been praying since the race was over to get him back home,” said Smith. “He had so much turbulence in the race, he didn’t need any in the air,” he said in reference to the rough start Arrogate was able to overcome in Dubai.
Smith along with other top jockeys received a cheque of US $ 150,000 on behalf of the Permanently disabled=”disabled”=”disabled=”disabled”” Jockeys Fund (PDJF) from the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival and Santa Anita Park in the presence of Keith Brackpool, Chairman, Santa Anita Park.
“We greatly appreciate what the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival is doing for PDJF,” said Smith.
Later Espinoza also hailed the move. “It’s an honor to ride this race today. The Arabian association and Santa Anita gave a big check ($150,000) to the injured riders (PDJF) earlier today, so that was great,” he said after winning on Paddys Day.
The County of Los Angeles presented a memento of appreciation to HH Sheikh Fatima Bint Mubarak, H.H. Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood which was received by HE Subose, HE Al Suwaidi and Ms Sawaya.
The Festival’s Hat and Dress competition, being held for the second year, was a big hit with nearly 50 entries and the winners received attractive Prizes.
The HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival is sustained by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and coordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, with National Feed and Flour Production and Marketing Co. LLC as associate sponsors, The National Archives as the official partner and Emirates airline as the official carriers, in cooperation with Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR, Emirates Arabian Horse Society, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare and sponsored by Al Aweer Stables, Ayadii LLC, Global United Veterinary Services LLC, Wathba Stallions, Abu Dhabi Falconers Club, Emirates Falconers Club, Mohamed Bin Zayed Falconry and Desert Physiognomy School, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Al Awani General Enterprises, Kabale, Omeir Travels, Dr Nader Saab Switzerland, Laboratories Fadia Karam Cosmetics, YAS Channel, Racing Post, Paris Turf, Al Wathba Centre, the UAE’s General Women’s Union, The Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2017, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Eastern Mangroves Suites-Abu Dhabi by Jannah, Anantara Eastern Mangroves Spa and Resort.