Benzel Has Long Game in Mind for Dubai Success

Seth Benzel is a trainer with some big Dubai plans.

The American had his first Dubai World Cup Carnival winner in 2013 when Dux Scholar landed a 1400m handicap and that triumph has given him a taste for more victory in the desert.

Benzel who has served as an assistant to top American trainers, Bill Mott (1997-2003) and Todd Pletcher (2003 -08), only has one horse in Dubai this season – Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen challenger, Zee Bros. Yet if Benzel has his way, that is set to change and he is to become a familiar face during the Dubai racing season.

“Right now Godolphin and Mike De Kock are the dominant forces at the Dubai World Cup Carnival,” said Benzel. “We’ve put together a five-year plan with a goal of getting to that level.”

Explaining the reasons behind his focus on Dubai Benzel said: “Four years in, my career lacked creativity and pessimism crept in. I promised myself I wasn’t going to wait for something to happen. I was young enough to go after it and create a different future. In life, the ball is in your court.

“I had my head down for 15 years working for Bill, Todd and myself. Racing is becoming more and more international. I had done a little bit of traveling, but longed for more.”

In what he describes as an “international calling”, Benzel plotted a course that led him to the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival with five horses.

“Outside of the Breeders’ Cup, there are very few racing events in the U.S. that attract international horses,” Benzel said. “In Dubai, you have a chance to live that life every day. With a good plan and hard work, there is no reason to think I can’t be successful at this.”

At the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival, Benzel met his fiancé, Joanna Patejuk, who joined the mission.

“She has international racing experience,” said Benzel. “We’re teammates now and are on this journey together.”

His runner on Saturday, Zee Bros is owned by Ahmed Zayat.

“Ahmed Zayat and his son Justin supported my plan the moment they heard about it and I’m happy to have a legitimate contender in Zee Bros representing them on Dubai World Cup Night,” said Benzel. “This is the first phase of the project. When you do something radically different, you have to get accustomed to the lay of the land and understand what it takes to be successful. Like any project, there is a learning process you need to go through.”