$2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored By Gulf News (G1)
Jordan Sport – Had a gentle workout at trainer Fawzi Nass’s base at Desert Stables in Al Quoz.
Mind Your Biscuits – A day after working a spirited half mile, last year’s winner Mind Your Biscuits bucked the US trend of staying in the barn after a work to return to the track. Arriving just after 6am local time, the colt, who is on track to become the richest New York bred in history should he become the victor, jogged a backward lap around the track before visiting the starting gate.
Starter Shane Ryan quipped to trainer Chad Summers that Mind Your Biscuits stood great (in the gate) and that he “looks even better than he did last year.”
It’s been a busy 24 hours for the two-time Group 1 winner. He spent Tuesday evening schooling in the paddock. “He was good. A little hot but not bad at all,” Summers said.
Although it was open to all entrants, only Mind Your Biscuits and Dubai World Cup (G1) hopeful Gunnevera chose to take advantage of the schooling process which involves a van ride, visiting the receiving barn, saddling paddock and parade ring as well as a trek through the subterranean tunnel.
Muarrab – The Ali Rashid Al Rayhi trainee did not visit the track for the second consecutive day on Wednesday morning, and was later scratched from the race due to lameness.
Reynaldothewizard – Reading the mind of the UAE’s most popular veteran, Reynaldothewizard, has been one of the challenges for trainer Satish Seemar as he prepares the 12-year-old for his fifth appearance in the race.
“Because of his experience and the fact he’s the resident boss around the stable, he knows too much,” Seemar said. “So sometimes we have to cheat him into doing his best work at home.
“We take him the other way round, or start him off at different positions on the track, for instance. He’s got our number, so we leave things to him. He knows that when we put on the blinkers, he’s supposed to do his best work.”
The blinkers have been off since Reynaldothewizard completed his serious work with a 600m sharp hit-out under big-race rider Richard Mullen’s at Seemar’s Zabeel Stables on Monday.
“Like the rest of our Saturday runners, he walked and did a normal hack canter around the track,” Seemar said. “I’m very happy with him.”
Roy H – A day after breezing about 600m down the stretch of the Meydan dirt track under jockey Kent Desormeaux, American champion sprinter Roy H enjoyed a day of rest in the quarantine barn area, trainer Peter Miller reported.
“He is doing great,” Miller said. “We’re just hoping he will run his race and have a little luck on Saturday. If he does, he should win.”
Roy H walked on Wednesday morning following Tuesday’s drill and will be limited to light exercise on the days remaining before the 1200m Dubai Golden Shaheen, Miller said.
X Y Jet – American speedster X Y Jet stayed in the quarantine barn complex on Wednesday morning with trainer Jorge Navarro preferring to limit the 6-year-old grey gelding to light exercise in the tranquil area following several days of gallops on the Meydan dirt track.
“Everything is good,” Navarro said. “I have done enough with him (before the race) and I’m not going to do anything else. I just want to keep him happy.”
$2 million UAE Derby Sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (G2)
Gold Town – The son of Street Cry has been a brilliant winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial and the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) itself on his two Meydan starts will will be bidding to go one place better than his sire, who was second in this race before winning the Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline, when he starts on Saturday.
“I am happy with how he has come through his last two races and he will have a final blowout tomorrow morning,” trainer Charlie Appleby said. “He couldn’t have done more than he has in his two races so far and hopefully he can put in another good performance at the weekend. He’s an improving horse.”
Mendelssohn – “Everything has gone according to plan with him,” trainer Aidan O’Brien said. “He won his prep run at Dundalk very nicely and we’re hopeful he can see out the distance as he goes beyond a mile (1600m) for the first time.”
Rayya – Leading trainer Doug Watson will send out Rayya against the boys for the first time. The filly will break from the inside post under rider Pat Dobbs in what will be her final start for Watson before heading to America and the care of trainer Bob Baffert.
Rayya was in good spirits on Wednesday morning.
“She was real fresh off her day off,” Watson said. “She cantered a 2000m and did it well. We’re really pleased with her.”
Boasting two wins and two seconds from four starts, Rayya has maintained her health going into the biggest race of her career.
“She’s glowing,” Watson said. “We still have a couple more days of training, but I couldn’t ask for her to be doing any better. If she’s good enough, with that draw, she should run well.”
$1 million Al Quoz Sprint Sponsored by Azizi Developments (G1)
Blue Point – A prolific winning juvenile, the 4-year-old was third in the Commonwealth Cup (G1) over 1200m at Royal Ascot last summer and broke the track record there with a win in October.
The son of Shamardal has had only one run at Meydan and encouragingly took second behind Ertijaal in the Meydan Sprint Sponsored by District One Greenery Stretch (G2).
“He did a routine canter here at Marmoom this morning and will work on the grass tomorrow,” trainer Charlie Appleby said. “He has come on for his last run and is in good form.”
Ertijaal – The Ali Rashid Al Rayhi runner was ruled out of race contention on Wednesday morning due to a stress fracture.
Holding Gold – Has competed at almost a dozen different racetracks in the United States and Canada but the Mark Casse trainee has yet to race on a straight course.
“He’s quite smart, so I do think he will handle the straight course,” assistant Randi Melton said.
For the first time Holding Gold is also being asked to run without the anti-bleeding medication Lasix. Melton said had that been a concern, Casse most likely would not have sent the horse here. In 2016 Casse took the great race mare Tepin to Royal Ascot, where she won without the medication.
On Wednesday morning, Holding Gold was fine and a bit feisty when he went out on the main track to stretch his legs during his easy one-mile gallop.
“He got keyed up some when a pair of turf workers passed outside of him heading into the lane. He then settled again nicely, but that did put him on his toes. But it was in a good way,” Melton said.
Librisa Breeze – Trainer Dean Ivory arrived on Tuesday and watched the grey have a spin on the turf course at 7.20am.
“The travelling over took a quite a lot out of him, as we imagined it would but he seems back on track now,” said Ivory. “You could always use a couple of days more to acclimatise but it is what it is. He worked lovely there so we look forward to Saturday.”
Music Magnate – Trainer Bjorn Baker has been to the races in Dubai once before but this time his trip will be as a participant rather than a spectator.
“I was here in 2007 when Invasor won the World Cup. I’m from New Zealand and there was a New Zealand-bred horse called Vengeance of Rain, who was based in Hong Kong, that won the 2400m turf race,” Baker said. “It’s very exciting to be here.”
Baker, the son of renowned Kiwi trainer Murray Baker, has good reason to be enthusiastic. The New Zealand-bred 7-year-old gelding, who provided him with his first and sole Group 1 victory, has turned heads since his earlier arrival and did so again Wednesday morning when sent out for his final tune-up before the race.
“I arrived yesterday and got my first look at him this morning and he looks great,” Baker said.
“Today he went out just past 5am and had a look at the grass again. We gave him a little blow-out and he went in what we call three-quarter 800s in about 15 seconds per furlong.”
Music Magnate, who is owned by Baker Racing and Cobbity Lodge Stud and Stable with about 20 partners, travelled over the turf course under apprentice jockey Jean Van Overmeire. Top Australian rider Blake Shinn was in the irons when Music Magnate won his last start and has been given the return call. Shinn will arrive in Dubai today and be at the barn in the morning.
“I won’t do any schooling in the paddock or the gate with him. He’s always been a good gate horse and we won’t change anything with him. From here, we’ll just keep him in the routine until Saturday.” Baker said.
Stormy Liberal, Conquest Tsunami and Richard’s Boy – All three of trainer Peter Miller’s contenders emerged from their 600m drills on Tuesday fit and ready for the race on Saturday.
“They’re all super. They ate well and just walked in the shedrow today,” Miller reported on Wednesday morning.
Miller said the trio may stay either in the quarantine barn area or at the training track for the remaining two days prior to the race, with only light exercise on their agendas.
Ruggero – Had a brief gallop on the dirt track with the trainer Yuichi Shikato, who had just arrived at Meydan, supervising him. The 3-year-old colt clocked the last 200m in 12.1 seconds.
“I am happy and he is in good order. The distance shouldn’t be an issue for him. He is always relaxed, is not tense and is easy to control. I have told the rider to work for 1000m in around 70 seconds and stretch out in the last.” Shikato said. “The field will be strong, so hopefully he can run his race.”
Yulong Warrior – The new ‘old’ owner of Yulong Warrior could be taking to the American Classic trail after handing the son of Street Cry a late entry for the US Triple Crown.
Satis Seemar, who continues to train Yulong Warrior following his weekend repurchase by Chinese businessman Zhang Yie Shang, revealed the tentative plan. “He was nominated at the last possible moment, and if he goes well on Saturday, his new connections may be interested in going in that direction,” Seemar said.
The new connections are, in fact, Yulong Warrior’s old ones. Bought by Yulong Investments for US$180,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sales in 2016, he ran three times placed in Ireland for trainer Michael Halford before Seemar signed a cheque for £360,000 at a pre-Royal Ascot boutique auction in London in June last year.
Three races at the Dubai World Cup Carnival, culminating in a runaway win by 11 and a half lengths in the Listed Al Bastakiya on Super Saturday, prompted the buy-back.
As Yulong Warrior, who had his final serious work-out on Monday, continued his gentle preparation on Wednesday for his most severe racecourse test, Seemar said: “As far as a possible trip to the US is concerned, we’ll have a meeting next week and decide the best course of action. I go race-to-race, so let’s see what Saturday brings first.”
$1 million Godolphin Mile Sponsored By Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City – Disctrict One (G2)
Kimbear, Muntazah, Second Summer and Shamaal Nibras – Trainer Doug Watson sends out seven runners on Saturday’s Dubai World Cup card including four here in Kimbear, Muntazah, Second Summer and Shamaal Nibras.
Kimbear, to be ridden by Pat Dobbs, has trained well throughout the week for Watson.
“He’s in really good form,” Watson said. “It’s a shame he didn’t draw better (12) but, who knows, it’s horse racing. The form he’s in, he could do anything. We’re real pleased with him.”
An outside post is not ideal but Watson will leave strategy in Dobbs’ capable hands.
“Most of the speed on paper is just on his inside and a little on the outside,” Watson said. “He can come from off it, it’s not that big a field, but he’ll press forward out of the gate. We won’t try and make the lead, there should be plenty of pace that he can sit off of it.”
Second Summer, who will have the services of Sam Hitchcott, cantered again this morning in preparation for his Godolphin Mile title defence.
“He’s in good form. We’re just going to have to ride him like we did last year and hope for the gap,” Watson said. “He’s well in himself and bouncing around the stable. We just hope he steps it up again. Maybe he’s saved it for the big night again.”
Dane O’Neill will ride Shamaal Nibras, a veteran of 51 career starts, who comes in fresh with just two starts in 2018 including a score in the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile.
“We pulled him out of the box for the vet this morning and he ran out of the box and trotted like a 2-year-old. He looked really good,” Watson said. “He cantered again today a mile and a quarter (2000m) and he’s real fresh. That’s the way he likes to run and I expect him to run really well.”
Muntazah, set to make his dirt debut under Jim Crowley, completes the Watson quartet.
“He had a nice canter today. He’s an unknown on the dirt but we think he’ll like it and he has a great draw (three),” Watson said. “He’s just now fit and has had the two runs over here now with nice spacing in between. If he likes the dirt and doesn’t mind the kick back, which I don’t think he will, he should run a big race.”
Watson remains cautiously optimistic with two additional days of training scheduled for his contingent.
“Touch wood, it’s only Wednesday, but we’re pleased with them all,” Watson said.
Raven’s Corner/Secret Ambition – Former UAE champion jockey Richard Mullen has chosen Raven’s Corner, who ran his first poor race of the season when tackling 1200m on Super Saturday, over Satish Seemar-trained stablemate Secret Ambition.
Like the rest, Raven’s Corner was no match for runaway winner Jordan Sport in the Mahab Al Shimaal, before which he had won a handicap over 1400m.
Pat Cosgrave takes over on Secret Ambition, who failed by a fast-diminishing neck to catch Kimbear over the big-race distance on the same programme, having won three out of four starts previously in handicap company.
Mullen rode the pair in separate 800m gallops on Monday as they completed their serious big-race preparation at Zabeel Stables.
Seemar said, “Raven’s Corner always works on his own, otherwise he takes too much out of himself. We have to deceive him in his work, so he started off at a different point than usual, before Richard eased him into his work.
“He’s had a few niggling problems this season. He flipped over at the start of what should have been his first race and had to be withdrawn, but I think we’ve figured him out, and if all goes well and comes out of the stalls, he could be a surprise.”
About Secret Ambition’s Monday work experience, Seemar said, “He did as usual – no sparkle in the morning, but that’s what he is. This will be his seventh race of the season, which is a little different for me, but he’s a late bloomer and after his last race Richard said he wasn’t done with yet. I’m happy with both my runners.”
Rosa Imperial – The Godolphin owned filly, trained by André Fabre in France, came onto the dirt track of the Meydan racecourse at 7am. She followed her stable companion Talismanic as they cantered over about 1400m.
Lisa-Jane Graffard, the Godolphin representative said: “They look well in themselves.”
Special Fighter – After not receiving an invitation to the Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline, Special Fighter faces the challenge of running in a competitive edition of the Godolphin Mile at a distance that is not his best.
“He is in good form-I like the way he is going-but this is not his distance. It is too short,” said trainer Musabbeh Al Mheiri on Wednesday morning as he watched Special Fighter gallop once around the Meydan dirt track.
“He is in the best condition, but the race is strong and there are many good horses entered. It will not be easy for him,” Al Mheiri added.
In order to help Special Fighter perform as well as possible considering the disadvantage, Al Mheiri said he plans to equip the 7-year-old with a visor to sharpen his speed. He also has been limiting Special Fighter’s morning exercise to light canters this week in order to keep the horse fresh following his last quick drill on March 23.
Special Fighter raced in both the 2016 and 2017 Dubai World Cup races and was good enough to finish fourth behind California Chrome in 2016 while ahead of accomplished American Grade 1 winners Frosted, Mshawish and Keen Ice. He was 12th behind Arrogate last year.
Rested after the 2017 Dubai World Cup, Special Fighter has finished unplaced in two starts in 2018 and is coming into the race off a fifth behind winner North America in the Al Maktoum Challenge R3 on March 10.
$1 million Dubai Gold Cup Sponsored by Al Tayer Motors (G2)
Big Orange – Having suffered from setfast after working on Monday morning, he went out for a steady canter on the Meydan training track just after 8am.
Trainer Michael Bell hot-footed it from the airport to watch the workout and he is keeping his fingers crossed that all goes to plan as Saturday approaches.
“He seems fine this morning and we just hope the setfast doesn’t reoccur, it happens after exercise. He didn’t do too much today but as long as he is OK later then he’ll have a nice breeze tomorrow,” Bell said. “He’s great in his skin and has eaten everything. He loves the sun on his back and fast ground.”
Frontiersman – Frontiersman, second to stablemate Hawkbill in the Dubai City Of Gold Sponsored by Emirates Skycargo (G2) on his last start, was another of Charlie Appleby’s Godolphin horses to have a final workout on the grass ahead of the weekend.
A winner at Newmarket in September, the 5-year-old, who is by Dubawi and out of Ouija Board, was also second to Hawkbill in the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes (G2) in July and ran second to Highland Reel in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes on Derby weekend at Epsom.
“With his pedigree we have always hoped he would deliver at the top level,” Appleby said. “We have had to take out time with him – he was unraced as a 2-year-old, we were patient with him as a 3-year-old and he had a good 4-year-old campaign with his career highlight coming when second in the Coronation Stakes.
“I stepped him up to Saturday’s distance on the all-weather in January, but we didn’t learn a great deal as he was fresh going into it, and it wasn’t a true-run race. It is not an easy 3200m around here, but it is often not the strongest-run race and if he can get a nice run round off an even tempo we will get to see if this horse can be a Cup horse for the future.”
Rare Rhythm – The 6-year-old beat the talented Vazirabad in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy (G2) on his only Meydan outing and also won on both of his two racecourse appearances in the England last summer.
They were both handicap wins but he successfully graduated into Group company last time and will be trying his hand at the top level this weekend over the 3200m.
“He had light exercise here at Marmoom this morning and will have a final blowout tomorrow morning on the grass,” trainer Charlie Appleby said. “He hasn’t stood a lot of racing through his career, but we have been happy with him since his last run, when he did beat a good horse.”
Sheikhzayedroad – A barn and fan favourite, 9-year-old Sheikhzayedroad continues to tick over like a much younger horse for trainer David Simcock.
The steady Grade 1 winning son of Dubawi, making his fifth appearance in Dubai, has shown younger stablemate Desert Encounter the ropes throughout the week with the improving stablemate slated to make his Meydan debut in the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic.
“’Sheikhy’ has been here as many times as me,” travelling head lad Ian Russell said. “He just knows his job and really seems to excel out here. He loves the heat and the one-to-one attention that he can receive out here. It keeps him quite happy.”
The Simcock duo headed to the Meydan turf course just after 7am on Wednesday morning with Sheikhzayedroad setting the pace for Desert Encounter in a reaching breeze with both horses offered a chance to stretch their legs.
Although he will be in a tough field on Saturday, Russell is confident ‘Sheikhy’ will again give a good account of himself.
“He’s a horse that gives you more than 100% and keeps on going,” Russell said. “The French horse is very good, obviously, as is the Godolphin horse.”
Torcedor – “He did a nice strong canter on the dirt track for Colm (O’Donoghue), trainer Jessica Harrington said. “He loves that surface; he really stretches out well on it. He’s very clear and happy since he arrived.
“He has come a long way in the year, from a rating from 96 to 115. The ground here will be fine, there is a lovely cushion of grass. He has progressed physically this year, too; he has become more of a man of a horse. He has drawn wide but he can make the running or sit in behind. It doesn’t make too much odds to him, the stall position. Colm knows him very well and being drawn out is okay for him.”
Vazirabad – French trainer Alain de Royer Dupré had arrived in Dubai during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday and was on hand to watch the dual Dubai Gold Cup winner Vazirabad jog around the dirt track at Meydan racecourse just after 7am.
“He went a bit faster yesterday and so today he only went round once and not too fast,” De Royer Dupré said. “He is getting older and doesn’t need much work.”
Vazirabad is attempting to become the first horse to lift the stayer’s race for the third consecutive year. He is running in a big field and his trainer said: “I am happy with the draw in five, but I also know how hard it is to win a race three times in a row. It is a big challenge and there are some good horses in the race. But I’m happy with my horse.”
$1 million Dubai Kahayla Classic sponsored by Mubadala (G1)
Nafees – French trainer Charles Gourdain is hoping that the lightly raced Nafees can win another Group 1 race when he lines up at the start. The 5-year-old colt came onto the dirt track at Meydan racecourse around 7am and cantered over 1600m.
“Nafees travelled over well,” Gourdain said. “He is very well in his head, always very relaxed and has a very good temperament. We are very lucky with that. The only question we have is the ground. We don’t know if he will like it, as he has never run on this surface before.
“He seems to have adapted, but he hasn’t had any real work on this ground and won’t have any before the race. He doesn’t need it. Also, he has actually never run left handed, so we shall see. The good thing is that he is fresh. We put him away last year with this race in mind and hopefully that will freshness will be to his advantage.”
Paddy’s Day – A 24-time winner from 40 starts for owner Quarter Moon Ranch LLC, Paddy’s Day put in a strong work this morning.
“He had a short little blow out this morning for the owner who was here and wanted to see him go. It was just two furlongs (400m) but he did it well, he did it very easy,” trainer Doug Watson said.
Watson expects to see jockey Pat Dobbs take Paddy’s Day to the point in Saturday’s 2000m test for Purebred Arabians.
“He’ll go forward. I don’t want to get caught behind horses rated 100, 105 – the lower rated horses,” Watson said. “We know he likes it over there (at Meydan), so even though he’s drawn 13 we’ll push forward and see where he lands after a furlong and let Pat make up his mind from there.”
It was a busy morning for Watson’s outfit with all seven of his Saturday starters enjoying a visit from the vet.
“The docs came by to trot them all up this morning and make sure they were good to go for World Cup night. They were all fresh and very well,” Watson said.