Trainer Mike de Kock summed up undefeated Soft Falling Rain’s less than ideal trip to a tremendous victory in the $1 million Godolphin Mile (UAE-II) on Saturday at Meydan with one precise sentence: “The champions get through.”
A ground-saving position on the rail early was impossible from Soft Falling Rain’s wide draw out of post 13, and the colt raced six-wide while well off the early pace before a furious stretch rally overhaul Haatheq at the 100-meter mark. He surged powerfully nearing the finish line to prevail by three-quarters of a length under jockey Paul Hanagan, taking his perfect record to seven wins from as many starts.
The Godolphin Mile was the first Thoroughbred race on the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) card.
“I haven’t see too many horses under pressure that early and still keep finding in the stretch,” de Kock said of Soft Falling Rain’s impressive win as the 8-5 favorite in North American pools hosted by AmWest Entertainment. “Turning for home I would have been happy to be second, but the horse dug in and fought all the way.”
Alpha set a slow early tempo in the Godolphin Mile before Haatheq ranged up and took control entering the stretch. Haatheq appeared ready to pull a 50-1 upset, but Soft Falling Rain uncorked powerful strides after steadily advancing and rallied to engage the leader. He battled a determined Haatheq for command 200 meters out before settling matters in the late stages.
“He gives his all; he’s so genuine,” Hanagan said of Soft Falling Rain, who was timed in 1:39.97 for the metric mile on the all-weather surface in his first start against older runners.
Haatheq, trained by Ali Al Raihe, held for second in a one-two finish for owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. Godolphin’s Moonwalk in Paris finished third, a length back.
Soft Falling Rain, a National Assembly colt out of Gardener’s Delight, by Giant’s Causeway , will head to England to be prepared for racing at Royal Ascot in June.
De Kock said he believes the mile trip is the limit for Soft Falling Rain.
“I would rather drop him back in trip than step him up,” he said. “He shows plenty of natural speed in his home work.”
A champion in his native South Africa, he was bred by Highlands Farms Stud, which is owned by the Beck family of Gainesway in Lexington.