Arabian Leopard had run in four races without success, and it was starting to look as though he didn’t have the talent to be competitive in a top-class maiden race. The Bob Baffert-trained son of Scat Daddy had posted solid workouts in the morning, and had been favored in his first two starts, but his morning form hadn’t been carrying over to the afternoon. After finishing fourth, fifth, and seventh in his first three starts, Baffert tried Arabian Leopard on turf, but the results were the same–Arabian Leopard finished fourth.
Even still, Arabian Leopard continued to train well, breezing four furlongs in a bullet :46 2/5 on November 20th at Del Mar. This sharp workout was enough to warrant another try on dirt in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on November 29th at Del Mar, a race in which Arabian Leopard would be sent off at 7-1 while facing ten rivals. The role of favorite went to Arabian Leopard’s Baffert-trained stablemate Hoffenheim, but when all was said and done, it was Arabian Leopard that wound up in the winner’s circle.
With Martin Garcia in the saddle, Arabian Leopard flashed excellent early speed to settle two lengths off the lead through a :22.36 opening quarter-mile, then advanced strongly to challenge for the lead after a half-mile in :45.65 seconds. Then, with Garcia urging him on, Arabian Leopard took command and ran the final five-sixteenths of a mile in a very respectable :30.92 seconds to cross the wire in front by 1 1/2 lengths over fellow pace-tracker Bistraya, with Hoffenheim putting in a late run to finish a distant third.
The final time of 1:16.57 was solid but not remarkably quick, and translated to a modest Beyer speed figure of just 73. But Arabian Leopard’s performance on Sunday was a major step forward compared to his previous efforts, and suggests that he could be a colt to watch during the next couple of months!
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