Godolphin's star goes out in blaze of glory?

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:11 AM ET

The owners are from Dubai, but their racing stable is headquartered in England. The horse is an Irishbred. The jockey is Italian. The trainer is from Dubai, but his licence is from the United Arab Emirates.

Is that International enough for you?

SHOWS HIS CLASS

Oh yeah, and the payoff came courtesy of the good old Woodbine mint, where the sweet, enchanting music of the almighty slot machine keeps the horse industry fat and happy.

Godolphin Racing's superior five-year-old, Sulamani, showed his class yesterday, blowing away nine overmatched rivals in the 67th running of the Pattison Canadian International at Woodbine Racetrack.

With his winner's share of $900,000, Sulamani's lifetime bankroll now sits just past $5 million, a nice round figure to take into his golden years.

Not five minutes after jockey Frank Dettori and Sulamani swept across the finish line, Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford all but announced Sulamani's retirement from racing.

"I was on the phone right after the race with Sheikh Mohammed and he indicated that the horse has accomplished so much, has had so much international acclaim and that it might be the right time to retire him to stud," Crisford said.

If that's true, then Sulamani went out in a blaze of glory. For most of the race, Sulamani settled comfortably back in the field until he encountered some traffic at the head of the stretch. Eventually Dettori saw his opening and Sulamani accelerated impressively down the lane, reeling in second-place finisher Simonas with ease.

"He matches with the very best in the world," Crisford said. "He's won all over the world at the highest level. I think now is the right time to retire him to stud."

Given the weather and the sodden atmosphere around the track yesterday, it was not at all difficult to conjure up images of another Canadian International, 31 years ago when a big red stallion named Secretariat came galloping out of the mist to win the final race of his legendary career.

Now, nobody is comparing Sulamani to Secretariat, but his exit, if indeed that's what it was, was as perfect as any great athlete can hope for. More than that, it is a credit to Woodbine's world-renowned mile-and-a-half turf course that Godolphin decided to bring him here for Canada's richest thoroughbred race to run his potential last race, rather than send him to the high-profile Breeder's Cup Turf next Saturday in Grand Prairie, Tex.

Racing afficionados will recall Sulamani's remarkable win at Belmont in last year's Breeder's Cup, a race where he stumbled coming off the far turn, nearly dumping his jockey, Jerry Bailey. Somehow he recovered quickly enough to stage a determined stretch run, winning by three lengths.

"He needs good ground," Dettori said. "We weren't worried about the opposition (at the Breeder's Cup) but the ground is a key thing and that's one of the reasons why they opted to come here because it's guaranteed good turf here."

"It's a wonderful racetrack and we love competing here," Crisford said.

In addition to the brilliance of Sulamani, Woodbine fans got a chance to see Dettori's trademark flying dismount, not just once, but twice. On big occasions, Dettori has perfected an impressive vertical leap off the horse's back. This definitely qualified as a big moment. He did one for the cameras and another in the winner's circle.

"It's something that people have picked up on and whenever I go round the world, people always want me to do it," said Dettori, at 34 one of the premier race riders in Europe.

LETTERS FROM MOMS

"I do have a few letters from mothers saying 'Please stop doing it because all our children are copying it on their ponies.' "

Not many of them have ponies like this one. Dettori, Sulamani and all their multi-national connections have now added another stirring chapter to their own stories and those of the rich history of the Canadian International.


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