Almost two years ago, patient handling from trainer Michael Stidham with Godolphin's steadily improving Mystic Guide combined to turn the colt into an elite dirt runner, and months later in March 2021, he captured the $12 million Dubai World Cup Sponsored By Emirates Airline at Meydan.
Now it seems Stidham and Godolphin might have another Dubai World Cup prospect for the March 25 race in the Middle East. Proxy suggested as much with his performance Nov. 25 at Churchill Downs by determinedly catching frontrunning favorite West Will Power to notch a breakthrough graded stakes victory in the Grade 1 $750,000 Clark Stakes Presented by Norton Healthcare. He won by three-quarters of a length in a 1 1/8-mile race in which 2022 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Rich Strike finished last of six.
"I'd love to get back to the Dubai World Cup, but going into 2023 there's a lot still on the table after a win like today," said Stidham.
There was much to like about Proxy's performance. Fresh in his first start since a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs in June, he broke running and jockey Joel Rosario placed him closer than usual, conscious of an apparent lack of pace.
He kept West Will Power honest through splits of :23.94, :48.51, and 1:12.76, perching his mount on that rival's flank, and down the stretch it was a two-horse battle, one Proxy eventually won.
The victorious 4-year-old son of Tapit raced 1 1/8 on a fast track in 1:48.89, running his final furlong in about :12. He paid $7.08 to win.
"This was his first start in a few months, so he was a little sharper leaving the gate," Rosario said. "He was a little bit further back in his last start here in the Stephen Foster than I expected him to be. I knew (West Will Power) was really the only horse that had early speed in the race, so I didn't want to let him get away easily. He was very professional today throughout.
"(West Will Power) didn't want to give in. He was very tough on the lead and I had to work pretty hard to get by him."
Rosario scored his second victory in the Clark, having first won aboard G M B Racing's Tom's d'Etat for trainer Al Stall Jr. in 2019.
Godolphin notched their second consecutive Clark victory after taking the 2021 race with the Brendan Walsh-trained Maxfield, another homebred for the global racing and breeding operation.