It was almost a fairy tale comeback for 2016 Godolphin Mile (G2) winner One Man Band in December. Off 999 days, he returned to the racetrack looking and performing as if he had not missed a beat. Leading all the way until the last jump of the Dubai Creek Mile (Listed), he was nipped by aptly named stablemate Stunned.
Said effort followed an extensive layoff that tested the patience of his connections, but ultimately reminded fans why he was one of the fastest and toughest horses to race in the UAE. In the end, though, what looked like a new beginning quickly turned into a last hurrah, as an old tendon injury resurfaced and trainer Doug Watson retired the Sheikh Saeed bin Mohammed Al Maktoum-owned 8-year-old horse.
“He was our first (Dubai) World Cup night winner and he was a superstar,” Watson said. “I think, at one point, he held or was just off the track record for every Meydan distance from 1400m to 1900m. He was just so big for us.
“The year after he won the Godolphin Mile, he came out and we had been cantering for two days starting back the next season and he ended up with a tendon issue. We had to put him away for the year and brought him back the next year and we were going to run him seven furlongs up the hill in a conditions race (at Jebel Ali). His other tendon got a small lesion in it, so we had to stop there. We basically thought he was retired and I didn't want to train such a nice horse with two bowed tendons. They weren't bad, but they were there.
“I started the horses back this year in August and I happened to be down talking to the foreman and walked by his stall and he was whinnying. I thought, well, he's just sitting here, let's just get him started and see how it goes. If something happens a little bit, if the tendon goes, we'll stop. We were able to get him to that race and just missed winning with him after almost a 1,000 days layoff. He actually came out of it fine, but just about a week later, (the tendon issue) reappeared. We scanned it and, you know, I wasn't going to push him anymore. He had done enough for us. He has done the world for us. He got us on the map.”
Stud plans have not yet been determined for the son of super-sire Pivotal out of Group 1-placed Cape Cross mare Musicanna. The Irish-bred $129,523 Goffs November 2011 purchase retires with eight wins from 17 starts and earnings just shy of $1 million. Previously in the care of Charlie Appleby for his first two starts in August and September of 2013, he raced under Watson's care for the remainder of his career.
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