A few several years back, trainer Jerry O’Dwyer traveled to Dubai with Shotski, his initially graded-stakes winner, and, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic canceling racing, arrived home without ever possessing had the prospect to run.
Centered at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite teaching facility in Palm Seaside County, O’Dwyer arrived back again in South Florida early Tuesday afternoon underneath much unique instances.
His latest stable star, Jun Park and Delia Nash’s Sibelius – winner of Gulfstream’s Mr. Prospector (G3) Dec. 31 – pulled off a thrilling upset of defending winner Switzerland in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) March 25 at Meydan Racecourse. It was the third straight victory for Sibelius, all in stakes, and first Quality 1 for both equally the 5-12 months-old gelding and his 41-12 months-previous trainer, who admitted to continue to greedy the magnitude of their accomplishment.
“It’s even now feels like a day’s do the job, I guess. It’s just some thing you do. We ready for it and it arrived off. Every now and all over again you think about it and you say, ‘Wow, it really is unbelievable. We just gained a Quality 1 halfway around the globe.’ It is unreal,” O’Dwyer said. “We obtained a myriad of texts and phone calls. It was fantastic. Plenty of effectively wishes.”
O’Dwyer headed to Dubai ‘quietly confident’ in Sibelius, who gained his first stakes victory in the Lite the Fuse final September at historic Pimlico Race Course. From there he ran fourth in the Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland and second in the Guess on Sunshine at Churchill Downs prior to kicking off his earn streak in the Mr. Prospector.
Sibelius punched his ticket to the Golden Shaheen with a record-setting triumph in the Feb. 11 Pelican at Tampa Bay Downs. He still left for Dubai through Miami March 12 with assistant trainer and work out rider Chelsea Raabe, who was joined by O’Dwyer 6 days afterwards.
“I was sensation very good going into the race. He is been slowly but surely developing and getting far better given that the second 50 % of last yr. He’s been able to retain likely,” O’Dwyer explained. “A lot of people instructed me I was mad by expressing we hadn’t gotten to the base of him but, and he is turning 5. But, I have viewed the horse every day and witnessed what he is performing and was really adamant that we hadn’t noticed the finest of him just nonetheless.
“He flew to Dubai and every little thing went great. He flew in fantastic, he settled in perfectly, was having superior and looking brilliant,” he included. “He really appreciated the place, and that gave me a good deal of self esteem that he was heading to run his most effective race. No matter if his best was very good sufficient to acquire it, I wasn’t heading to be putting my everyday living on the line to say it was. But, I was quietly assured of him managing a huge race and acquiring a great piece of it.”
Even prior to the race Sibelius was a well-known issue in the course of his time in Dubai, showing up on quite a few social media platforms as properly as intercontinental tv coverage.
“He’s a excellent on the lookout horse, he’s received a fantastic identity, enjoys to go out to the monitor and stand out. He is quite nosy when he sees men and women,” O’Dwyer claimed. “He types of goes over to them to see what they are executing. He got a massive adhering to out there, which was awesome. He genuinely enjoyed the consideration.”
A slower start out than ordinary experienced Sibelius unusually off the speed and caught inside in the Golden Shaheen but received a heady experience from European winner Ryan Moore, aboard for the very first time.
“I wasn’t feeling also fantastic at the start off when he broke extremely flat-footed and failed to get up in a ahead situation like he typically does. That was not a good sensation, but then you could see he was keeping his placement all over fifth or sixth on the inside of,” O’Dwyer mentioned. “I would have appreciated to see him get on the bridle and travel for a few strides at some phase, but he didn’t even do that.
“Ryan just saved niggling absent at him and the horse held acquiring for him. Turning for home you are pondering it’s possible he’ll be fourth or third but he just retained coming and coming and grinding it out,” he included. “I realized he was heading to be gritty in that perception. He is hardened now. I was a little apprehensive early on in the race when he was a minor even further back again than I’m utilised to viewing him.”
As he anxiously awaited the photo finish, O’Dwyer said he felt Sibelius was a winner when he crossed the wire.
“We were being standing proper on the rail hunting at it,” he claimed. “I thought we might won but then they have been having ages with the picture and you commence questioning on your own. ‘Was I seeing issues? Was I just seeing it the way I wanted to see it?’ But luckily for us, they called the image in our favor.”
O’Dwyer said Sibelius is scheduled to get some time off and then get started preparing for the future phase with the trainer’s string in Kentucky. A probability could be the 7-furlong Churchill Downs (G1) on the Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard May perhaps 6.
“He’ll depart Dubai and he’ll go to Chicago for a handful of days of quarantine and then he is going to ship to Kentucky. We are going to give him a couple of uncomplicated weeks on the farm there and freshen him up and we’ll almost certainly keep him in Kentucky and make your mind up exactly where we are likely to operate him from there,” he reported. “We have not designed any strategies however. There is certainly a race for him on Derby day, but that is not set in stone. We are going to let him to the chatting.”
According to O’Dwyer, shelling out the wintertime at Palm Meadows was instrumental in Sibelius’ growth all round and, in distinct, his success in Dubai.
“The Florida climate is pretty similar to the Dubai weather conditions, so I assume that it was excellent that he was down here for a although and acclimatized to the situations,” he stated. “Dubai was incredibly related, great in the mornings and heated up in the afternoon. Florida has been really excellent to us.”
It can be suitable back again to get the job done for O’Dwyer, a indigenous of Tipperary, Eire in which he grew up riding ponies and attending horse sales with his father. He eventually graduated from the Irish Racing Academy with designs on being a jockey regardless of his 5-foot-10 frame. Right after serving as an apprentice to coach David Hanley, now basic manager of WinStar Farm, O’Dwyer rode additional than 100 winners in Ireland and England in advance of coming to the U.S. at the urging of coach John Ennis.
O’Dwyer bought a position with trainer Al Stall Jr. in Kentucky, put in a summertime in Saratoga and prepped 2-yr-olds in Florida before settling on a instruction profession. His to start with of 159 winners to day arrived courtesy of Aleutian Queen at Belterra Park Sept. 27, 2014.
In addition to Sibelius and 2019 Remsen (G2) winner Shotski, other best horses qualified by O’Dwyer involve stakes winners Desires Supervision, Rookie Salsa, Cooke Creek, Cruise and Danze and V.I.P. Ticket.
“I’ll be back in the barn, checking a couple of all those 2-12 months-olds out and looking at if we can come across the up coming Sibelius,” O’Dwyer mentioned.
“A major shout out to the entire group. Absolutely everyone did these kinds of a fantastic task using care of him and acquiring him ready,” he additional. “It’s not like it really is just my horse or your horse, he is everybody’s horse at the barn and we are tremendous proud of him.”