Previously an assistant to American Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, Harty’s current life in racing began when Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s bloodstock advisor John Ferguson telephoned him one day in 1999.
Harty went on to train the likes of 2002 Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry, who he personally selected from a group of young horses and conditioned through his juvenile season, and 2001 American champion two year old filly and Breeders’ Cup winner Tempera.
He and his wife Kathy and son Eddie lived in Dubai for several years in the winter months and were able to visit parts of the world they never imagined they would be able to see.
Although Godolphin changed course and cut back on young horses racing in America in 2003, Harty returned to Dubai triumphant in 2009 when he saddled WinStar Farm’s Well Armed to win the Dubai World Cup by a record-smashing 14 lengths.
And now, returning to the key point on his life’s circle, he is back with Dubai Duty Free, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free contender Victor’s Cry, who, in another circular twist, is a son of Street Cry. Circling again, Victor’s Cry is stabled in the same international quarantine barn as Dubai Golden Shaheen entrant Euroears, who is trained by Bob Baffert, with whom Harty maintains a jovial friendship.
“I’ve been very blessed,” Harty, 48, reflected this week as he stood outside the barn and gazed at the statuesque Victor’s Cry, who he described as “the Brad Pitt” of the horses that will be running on Saturday’s Dubai World Cup program. In addition to Victor’s Cry, Harty also trains Group One Kentucky Derby candidate Anthony’s Cross and thus is fully immersed in two of horse racing’s biggest events of the year.
“I’ve been to the Dubai World Cup program three times with three different horses and won with Well Armed. I’ve been to the Kentucky Derby with horses for the last three years. Things just seem to work out for me; I don’t know why, but I don’t worry about it,” he said.
A native of Dublin, Ireland, Harty moved to the United States as a teenager to pursue his luck in racing, his family’s professional domain since the time of his great-grandfather. Working for Baffert when he trained classic winners Real Quiet and Silver Charm, with the latter winning the 1998 Dubai World Cup, was the springboard to the job with Godolphin, and to this day Harty continues to train horses for the Maktoum family in America.
“His Highness Sheikh Mohammed has been very, very good to me,” Harty said. “My association with the Maktoums has really paid off in spades. Sheikh Mohammed supports me and he always puts the horses first—he never puts any pressure on me. It’s been a great association.
“He’s an extremely generous person,” Harty said of Dubai’s ruler. “I never take it for granted what he’s done for me. You never get a chance to go up and say, ‘Thanks for everything you’ve done, you’ve impacted my life so much,’ but he has. I wouldn’t be here today without him.”