It was Jose Ortiz' first-ever start on Dubai World Cup night, and he had a tough task with the 12th post position in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile. Riding Robert LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners' Coal Front, Ortiz was pushed four-wide down the backstretch and was still wide around the turn, but the pair found their rhythm down the stretch. Coal Front dug in in the final eighth to defeat frontrunner and defending champion Muntazah by three-quarters of a length on the wire, completing a mile over Meydan's fast dirt course in 1:36.51. The 5-year-old son of Stay Thirsty is conditioned by Todd Pletcher, giving the trainer his first winner on Dubai World Cup night.
In the U.S. pools, Coal Front paid $7.80 as the winner.
“The emotion right here is for my family back home and I just want to say that I love them all,” said Ortiz. “The horse felt great for me and he broke well, which was important. I wanted to be on or near to the lead and it worked out perfectly. I knew I had to be patient to time my run for home. I had two horses in-front of me which gave me a great lead, and I just sat and watched Jim Crowley and Muntazah as he is the main man around here. I followed him and my horse dug in for me late on and he has done it well.”
Coal Front was drawn wide in 12 and not able to get to the front under Jose Ortiz, who had hoped to do so, but forced to track Heavy Metal, Muntazah and Good Curry. The last named was the first to crack with Muntazah looming large alongside Heavy Metal at the top of the straight before weakening.
That left Heavy Metal clear with a seemingly insurmountable advantage but Ortiz had a willing partner in Coal Front, who finished off his race in style to put his head in front where it mattered. The winning verdict was three-parts of a length.
Bred in Kentucky by Michael Edward Connelly, Coal Front is out of the unraced Mineshaft mare Miner's Secret. LaPenta purchased the ridgling for $575,000 at the OBS April sale, but he did not make his first start until April of his 3-year-old year. Coal Front won his first three starts, including the G2 Amersterdam, then ran fifth in the G1 Allen Jerkens. He rebounded with a convincing score in the G3 Gallant Bob, but needed more than a year on the sidelines before he returned to the racetrack. Fifth in his first start off the layoff, Coal Front has recorded three consecutive victories since then: the G3 Mr. Prospector, the G3 Razorback Handicap, and now the G2 Godolphin Mile.
“He has had some health issues, on and off but always had a ton of talent,” said co-owner Sol Kumin. “And Todd Pletcher has done a great job with him. We thought if he could handle the mile 1/16, we would come back to the mile and everything worked out well. It was worth the trip. We were lucky enough to own a part of Mind your Biscuits a few years ago. I wasn't sure if he was winning. I was hoping and I was worried. I thought he would run out of gas, but he didn't.”
Overall, Coal Front has won seven of his nine starts for earnings of over $1.6 million.
In an exciting finish, Coal front wins The Godolphin Mile. pic.twitter.com/TD1QVqSoff
— TVG (@TVG) March 30, 2019
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