Coal Front rallied sharply in deep stretch to catch frontrunning defending champion Heavy Metal and win the $1.5 million Godolphin Mile Sponsored by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum City—District One (G2) by three-quarters of a length March 30 at Meydan.
Coal Front, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Jose Ortiz—in his first Dubai World Cup Day race—waited well back of the early battle between Heavy Metal and the international favorite, Muntazah. Heavy Metal began to edge clear as the field hit the Meydan Racecourse stretch.
Ortiz, however, had kept Coal Front wide of the leaders and in the clear and was in full flight 200 meters from home, closing ground on the tiring, 9-year-old leader. He hit the lead five strides short of the wire in the one-turn, 1,600-meter (about one-mile) test and finished in 1:36.51.
"He's a frontrunner," Ortiz said. "Being where I was, I didn't want to put him behind horses and take the kickback. I was happy where I was. Coal Front was a tough customer. But we had it. I was riding for the win."
Muntazah, winner of the local prep for the Godolphin Mile, held off surging Kimbear to salvage third by a short head.
Coal Front, a 5-year-old Stay Thirsty ridgling, came to Dubai after a victory in the Feb. 18 Razorback Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park in his first start of the year. He closed an abbreviated 2018 campaign with a win in the Dec. 22 Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park. As a 3-year-old, he won the Gallant Bob Stakes (G3) at Parx Racing and the Amsterdam Stakes (G2) at Saratoga Race Course.
Bred in Kentucky by Michael Edward Connelly out of the Mineshaft mare Miner's Secret and owned by Robert LaPenta and Sol Kumin's Head of Plains Partners, Coal Front now has seven wins from nine starts. Saturday's score marked the most lucrative of his career, earning $900,000.
LaPenta said the owners and Pletcher, who scored his first win on a World Cup card, debated whether to even send Coal Front to Dubai because they didn't know if he'd handle the travel.
"Up until three weeks ago, we spent a lot of time on this," LaPenta said. "He's very nervous, and we thought about the travel, the quarantine, all those things. Should we go? Todd did a great job."
LaPenta said he was worried as Heavy Metal took a substantial lead in the stretch.
"What was going through my mind at the sixteenth pole was, 'Call a doctor!'" he said. "He is a frontrunning horse. This time, he had to catch a horse. We're so proud of him."
LaPenta said there are no firm plans for Coal Front's future.
Consigned by Kirkwood Stables to the 2016 Ocala Breeders' Sales Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, Coal Front went to LaPenta for $575,000. His dam produced an American Pharoah colt in 2018 and was bred to Arrogate for 2019.