A change of scenery has done wonders for the spirits and form of DARRS’ hard-knocking, 8-year-old turf sprinter Extravagant Kid .
The gelded son of Kiss the Kid has upped his game considerably this year by capturing his first group 1 stakes in the March 27 Al Quoz Sprint Sponsored By Azizi Developments (G1) at Meydan Racecourse and now heads toward the June 15 King’s Stand Stakes (G1) on opening day of the Royal Ascot meet as the co-third-highest-rated horse in the race.
Favorite in the five-furlong King’s Stand Stakes is four-time group 1 winner Battaash , who was second in this race in 2019 and won it last year. Battaash is owned by the estate of Sheikh Hamdan and will be making his first start of 2021. The other highly rated contenders include last year’s Darley July Cup (G1) winner Oxted and Winter Power , who is on a three-race winning streak that includes the Newmarket Academy Godolphin Beacon Project Cornwallis Stakes (G3).
Extravagant Kid has been a remarkably consistent performer for David Ross’ racing stable since he was claimed as a 5-year-old for $75,000 in mid January 2018 at Gulfstream Park from Vicino Racing Stables. Out of 27 starts for DARRS, he has eight wins, 12 seconds, and a third and banked more than $1.32 million in purses.
With second-place finishes last year in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes Presented by Sysco (G2T) at Churchill Downs (by a neck) and Woodford Stakes Presented by TVG (G2T) at Keeneland (by half a length) and a fourth by a length in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1T), trainer Brendan Walsh thought Extravagant Kid deserved a shot at the Al Quoz Sprint.
“The Dubai race had been in my mind for a couple of years because I traveled with a lot of horses with Godolphin back in the day, and it was amazing how travel with certain horses added a certain dimension to them,” said Walsh during a virtual press conference conducted June 11 by Great British Racing International. Walsh worked for Godolphin in the late 1990s through the early 2000s.
Extravagant Kid wins the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan Racecourse
“I thought this is the right year to go with Extravagant Kid,” Walsh continued. “He seemed to really thrive in Dubai when he got there and ran like he had been doing, and he seems to be thriving in Newmarket. I hope he’ll run like he seems to be doing there as well. The travel and the different track, it is kind of like human nature when you get to a horse of this age, you’re trying to find something a little different. He’s pretty much seen it all before and this suits his character and picked him up a bit. Maybe that is what we can accredit some of his improvement to.”
While Newmarket’s course is not the flat plane that is Meydan’s, Walsh expects Extravagant Kid to adapt.
“With the undulations, he is an athletic horse, and I have no doubt he’ll handle the ground. It looks like it will be perfect, and it will be the first day of the meeting, so it will be really nice ground,” the trainer said.
Ross also said he expects Extravagant Kid to make a solid showing.
“We knew we had a very good shot (in Dubai). In fact, we won’t place a horse in a race that we don’t feel it has a chance to win. It is important to give them a competitive chance,” Ross said. “We were fortunate to have the horse travel so well because that’s something you can’t predict. We were pleased to see that level of performance and ability. He’s a special horse for sure.
“(In the King’s Stand) we know there are some very good horses he needs to beat but we’re hopeful,” Ross continued. “Ryan Moore had the opportunity to ride the horse in Dubai and did so phenomenally. We are very pleased to have him back.”
American trainer Wesley Ward also has an entry in the King’s Stand with Maven , a 4-year-old gelded son of American Pharoah , who is owned by Richard Ravin. Bred by Ward, Maven won his debut at 2 at Aqueduct Racetrack and was then sent to France where he won the Connolly’s Redmills Prix du Bois (G3). He was sent back to the States at 3, getting one win from three starts, and then won his debut at 4 by 2 1/4 lengths in a 5 1/2-furlong turf allowance race at Keeneland.