Frankel, Dancing Brave, Enable and more: the champions Khalid Abdullah made
gr c 2013
Bought at public auction, the strapping son of Unbridled's Song became the world's leading money earner within 12 months of making his debut, courtesy of victories in the Travers Stakes, Breeders' Cup Classic, Pegasus World Cup and Dubai World Cup.
Arrogate was described by his trainer Bob Baffert as "the dirt version of Frankel". His victory by 13 and a half lengths in the 2016 Travers triumph was visually his most arresting, although he rallied from last in a field of 14 to capture the 2017 Dubai World Cup. He was the best horse trained in the US to carry the legendary Abdullah silks.
b c 1983
A son of Lyphard bought inexpensively as a yearling and blessed with exceptional acceleration, Dancing Brave assumed iconic status. In 1986 his CV included the 2,000 Guineas, Eclipse, King George and the Arc, and should have included the Derby, in which he finished second to Shahrastani after charging hard from far back under Greville Starkey.
Dancing Brave won eight of his ten starts, his only other defeat coming when a below-par fourth in the Breeders' Cup Turf. His greatest triumph came in the Arc when he overhauled ten opponents inside the final furlong, in the process breaking the Longchamp track record. He also sired Commander In Chief, who won the 1993 Derby in Abdullah's silks.
b c 1996
It is a glaring injustice that Dansili's race record did not feature a Group 1 triumph. He would have won the 2000 Breeders' Cup Mile in another two strides and finished runner-up in four other Group 1 races, although that did not stop him becoming an important sire at Abdullah's Banstead Manor Stud.
The fact Dansili was out of Hasili was a large part of his appeal. His illustrious dam bred five individual Group 1 winners, all for Juddmonte, among them the sisters Banks Hill and Intercontinental, both winners of the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Dansili subsequently sired Abdullah's 2006 Arc winner, Rail Link.
b m 2014
Abdullah's last great horse lit up the summer of 2017, yet it was a defeat at the start of that golden year that perhaps proved the key to what was to follow. With no unbeaten record to protect, Enable was campaigned with notable daring over the next four years, which included a record three wins in the King George plus two victories in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and two defeats in her bid to become an unprecedented three-time winner of that race.
By the end of her astonishing journey, Enable had captivated the racing world with 11 Group 1 wins, five of them during that golden 2017 and three more during 2019, at the end of which she was crowned joint-world champion, the third Abdullah horse to top the rankings.
b c 2008
Even those with long memories described Frankel as the best racehorse they had seen, ahead of the likes of Tudor Minstrel, Sea-Bird and Ribot. The headstrong homebred was beautifully handled by Sir Henry Cecil to win all 14 of his starts over three seasons.
A homebred son of Galileo, Frankel won ten Group 1 races, nine of them in succession, and posted an average winning distance of nearly five and a half lengths. He delivered a tour de force in the 2012 Queen Anne Stakes, in which he beat Excelebration, himself a three-time Group 1 winner, by 11 lengths. He was the epitome of a thoroughbred racehorse.
br c 1977
Known Fact warrants inclusion as the first top-class racehorse Abdullah owned, and thus one that whetted his appetite. A near-black colt, he wound up his juvenile campaign by winning the 1979 Middle Park Stakes before he was controversially awarded the following season's 2,000 Guineas on Nureyev's disqualification.
The son of In Reality, who competed in a vintage year for milers, closed out his campaign by defeating Kris in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes for his fourth win of 1980. Known Fact retired to Juddmonte Farms in Kentucky, where the best horse he sired was Abdullah’s homebred champion miler Warning.
b c 2000
Every breeding operation needs a fast horse and Abdullah could not have asked for a better one than Oasis Dream. The champion sprinter in 2003, he was a veritable blur of speed, as he showed in winning the Middle Park Stakes, July Cup (in track record time) and Nunthorpe Stakes.
At the close of Oasis Dream's career, trainer John Gosden described him as the fastest horse he had trained, an accolade he tempered only on the emergence of Kingman, another Abdullah standard bearer. At stud, Oasis Dream's best representatives were champion sprinter Muhaarar and Midday, the latter winner of six Group/Grade 1 races for Abdullah.
b c 1985
Unbeaten in four starts as a two-year-old, Warning was brilliantly campaigned by trainer Guy Harwood after he met with a shock defeat in the 1988 Craven Stakes. Harwood gave the colt time to recover before he plotted a course that saw Warning advance to champion miler honours in a vintage year.
He won the Sussex and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, although he was unable to resist Miesque in the Prix Jacques le Marois. Warning was out of the Oaks-placed Slightly Dangerous, a Juddmonte foundation mare who also bequeathed Abdullah the Grade 1 winner Yashmak, Dushyantor and Deploy as well as the aforementioned Commander In Chief.
b c 2007
Perhaps because of his inconsistency Workforce was always an underappreciated talent for a horse who won the Derby and the Arc in 2010. He also ran poorly in defeat, notably when he beat only one home when odds-on for Harbinger's King George in the same year.
Nevertheless, those victories at Epsom and Longchamp earned him high praise from the international handicappers. He was the last of Abdullah's three Derby winners.
br c 1990
Zafonic's explosive talent was matched by the strength of his physique. An immensely powerful horse blessed by electric acceleration, he blazed like a comet until his career came to a shuddering halt in the 1993 Sussex Stakes, in which he finished seventh.
In his pomp, however, Zafonic was irresistible. He advanced from a debut maiden victory to win the Group 1 Prix Morny, after which he landed the Prix de la Salamandre and Dewhurst with contemptuous ease. But those triumphs pale in comparison to his barnstorming victory in the 1993 2,000 Guineas, when he defeated Barathea by three and a half lengths. He may not have endured but he made a magnificent sight in full flight.
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