Dullahan struck a blow for the three-year-old division in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Sunday night and in the process set up a tilt at the Breeders' Cup and a possible trip to Dubai next year.
America's Classic crop have been decimated by injury and after Dullahan had run down the five-year-old Game On Dude to snatch the $1million (Dh3.6m) Pacific Classic by half a length under Joel Rosario connections were keen to highlight the colt's durability.
''We've had all kinds of fancy three year olds - fast, brilliant, exciting three year olds - retired to stud because they couldn't hold them together," Jerry Crawford, racing manager to owners Donegral Racing Partnership, said. "This horse is as sound as any horse we've ever campaigned. I hope that at some point people are going to say, 'Maybe horse racing would be a better activity if we bred to sound horses."
Dullahan was third to I'll Have Another and Bodemeister in the Kentucky Derby at Churchills Downs in May, but both of those colts have been retired due to injury. With several other high-profile injuries to the likes of Union Rags and Hansen, Crawford believes that there is not a better three year old in training Stateside.
''Coming here and beating Richard's Kid and Game On Dude stamps him as the three-year-old horse of the year,'' Crawford added. ''He and I'll Have Another each have three Grade 1 victories, but only Dullahan is still racing.''
The Pacific Classic is a 'Win and You're In' race for the Breeders' Cup Classic and having become just the fourth three year old to win the ten furlong event in its 22-year history it is clear Dullahan is of the highest class.
The Breeders' Cup Classic, run at Santa Anita on November 3, will be staged on dirt, a surface over which Dullahan has never won in six starts. The Pacific Classic was run over a temperature sensitive Polytrack surface, much like the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes and Futurity at Keeneland which Dullahan also won. As such Meydan Racecourse's Tapeta surface should hold no fears for the son of Even The Score, and with trainer Dale Romans already having won the Dubai World Cup in 2005 with Roses In May, Dullahan has no better guide.
''There's nobody else in the country that's won three Grade 1s on any surface and placed in graded stakes on the turf and the dirt, including finishing third in the Kentucky Derby," Crawford said. "I would respectfully say the question with Dullahan is what surface can't he run on, not what surface can he run on.''
Over in Saratoga, there was no luck for Bill Mott's Royal Delta, who had to make way for Love And Pride, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez, in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Invitational. Godolphin's It's Tricky was third for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, after she scraped the dirt with her nose once the gates opened.
"She got up and ran her heart out. It's very unfortunate," McLaughlin said. "I'm really proud of her. I feel like we were the best today had we broke well, but congratulations to the winner."