Godolphin sends out a powerful team for the second fixture of the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival, with last year’s G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen runner-up Comicas among 18 runners at Meydan, UAE, on Thursday, 18 January.
Five-year-old Comicas (Charlie Appleby/William Buick, drawn five) races on dirt for the six-furlong G3 Dubawi Stakes having thrived over the same course and distance at last year’s Carnival, when he gained a handicap victory and finished fourth in the G3 Mahab Al Shimaal Sponsored by Emirates Skywards.
He found only Mind Your Biscuits three lengths too strong in the Dubai Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup Night and finished second to Muarrab on his first start of the current UAE season in the Listed Garhoud Sprint, also over six furlongs on dirt at Meydan, on Thursday, 21 December.
The seven runners for the Dubawi Stakes also feature the 2013 Dubai Golden Shaheen victor Reynaldothewizard, a 10-time winner at Meydan, Muarrab and Garhoud Sprint third My Catch.
Charlie Appleby said: “Comicas produced a career-best over this course and distance in the Dubai Golden Shaheen last year.
“He put up a good performance on his return from a break in the Garhoud Sprint and has definitely come on for the run.
“If he runs another solid race, he should be bang there on Thursday.”
Three Godolphin fillies line up in the 14-runner UAE 1000 Guineas Trial over seven furlongs on dirt including Caring Touch (Saeed bin Suroor/Oisin Murphy, drawn 10) who quickened strongly for an impressive debut success in a mile maiden on Tapeta at Newcastle, UK, on Wednesday, 6 December.
Winter Lightning (Saeed bin Suroor/Pat Cosgrave, drawn seven) switches to dirt after finishing second over seven furlongs at Newmarket, while Expressiy (Charlie Appleby/William Buick, drawn 12) won twice on turf and the All-Weather in the UK last season and came third in a seven-furlong Newmarket Listed race on her latest outing.
Saeed bin Suroor commented: “Caring Touch won her maiden nicely and has done well since arriving out in Dubai. I have been pleased with her work and seven furlongs will be no problem.
“Winter Lightning put up a good performance on her debut at Newmarket and has also done well in Dubai.
“We will see how they get on but I am looking for a good result.”
Charlie Appleby remarked: “Expressiy brings a bit of experience into the race, having run six times last year including winning on Polytrack at Chelmsford City, and she should be competitive.
“She is drawn on the outside in stall 12, but it can be beneficial to be away from the kickback, especially when horses are experiencing dirt for the first time.”
Last year’s G1 2000 Guineas fifth Dream Castle (Saeed bin Suroor/Pat Cosgrave) makes his handicap debut over a mile on turf under top-weight, with Listed Meydan Classic winner Top Score (Saeed bin Suroor/Gerald Mosse) and the lightly-raced Salsabeel (Charlie Appleby/William Buick) also running in the same contest.
Listed winners Team Talk (Gerald Mosse) and Leshlaa (Pat Cosgrave) line up for Saeed bin Suroor in a 10-furlong turf handicap and they are joined by Blair House (Charlie Appleby/William Buick), runner-up in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot in June.
Thursday’s other 10-furlong handicap on the turf features Dowayla (Saeed bin Suroor/Christophe Soumillon) and Capezzano (Charlie Appleby/William Buick), who was third on dirt in the G3 UAE 2,000 Guineas last year.
Veteran sprinter Baccarat (Charlie Appleby/James Doyle, drawn five of the 14 runners) has won at the last two Carnivals and the nine-year-old tries for a third six-furlong turf handicap success, a race that also features stable companion Van Der Decken (William Buick, drawn seven) plus the Saeed bin Suroor-trained duo of Kananee (Sam Hitchcott, drawn nine) and Silver Line (Antonio Fresu, drawn one).
Unexposed four-year-old Mountain Hunter (Saeed bin Suroor/Christophe Soumillon), successful on two of his three starts, and G K Chesterton (Charlie Appleby/William Buick), a handicap winner at Epsom Downs, UK, last season, both race on dirt for the first time in a mile handicap.
Lots of Quality Horses in Dubai
• Mind Your Biscuits Ready to Rise Again
• Australia’s Faatinah Fit for Dubai Debut
• Kimbear Out of Hibernation
• De Kock High on Al Sahem
• Second Summer Gets Equipment Change
• Roy H Revving Up for Dubai
• Dubai World Cup Night Stars Among Eclipse Finalists
• Quick Hits: The Right Man, Hawkbill, D’bai, Candy Boy, Barzalona, Soumillon
MIND YOUR BISCUITS READY TO RISE AGAIN
Mind Your Biscuits developed quite the UAE fan base while here last March. The appropriately named chestnut buttered up the press all Dubai World Cup week, impressing many with a mid-week blowout and affable connections prior to dominating his Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) foes and stamping himself as one of the top dirt sprinters on the planet.
While the remainder of 2017 was nothing to scoff at, it was not nearly as glamourous as the first half of the season for the Chad Summers-trained and co-owned son of Posse. An impressive winner of the Belmont Sprint Championship (G2) in New York in his American resurfacing, he then was a disappointing sixth in Drefong’s Forego (G1) at Saratoga. He closed out the year with a late-closing third to Roy H in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Del Mar and a distant second to rival and fellow Dubai alum Sharp Azteca (third as favourite in 2017 Godolphin Mile) in Aqueduct’s Cigar Mile Handicap (G1).
After a light freshening, the New York-bred 5-year-old returned to serious work with a three-furlong (600m) drill in 38 seconds on Jan. 12 at Palm Meadows in South Florida. A return trip to Dubai is in the cards for the six-time winner from 19 starts, which may offer the defending champ a redemption opportunity against Roy H.
“He’s doing super,” Summers said. “We’re looking at one of three (options for a prep race). The General George (G3) or Pelican Stakes, both on February 17 at Laurel (Park) and Tampa (Bay Downs), respectively, or the Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3) on March 3. He’s still on schedule.”
Mind Your Biscuits used a runner-up effort in the Gulfstream Park Sprint last year as a springboard to Dubai glory.
“The best part of Dubai is the love of the people in the UAE for the horses, from the grooms assigned to us to the (fans),” Summers continued. “Also, the chance to showcase in an international event that attracts some of the best horses from around the world.”
Summers confirmed that Irad Ortiz Jr., who was aboard in the Cigar Mile, will have the mount on Mind Your Biscuits in both the prep and Dubai Golden Shaheen, in lieu of Joel Rosario.
AUSTRALIA’S FAATINAH FIT FOR DUBAI DEBUT
An accomplished sprinter in Australia, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Faatinah will make his Dubai debut on Thursday for trainer David Hayes in a US$135,000 1200m handicap, the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi World Class Healthcare Cup. The two-time Group 2 winner appears ready to roll for his formidable connections, blowing out down the stretch of Meydan’s turf training course on Tuesday morning.
Rated 112, the son of Nicconi will be ridden by Jim Crowley in Thursday’s sixth race and drew the three-hole in the declared field of 14.
“I’m really pleased with his condition,” said Ben Hayes, who shares training duties with his father at their Lindsay Park yard in Euroa, Victoria. “He looks well. We were really pleased before we traveled him over and his work was excellent back home. From what I’ve seen, he’s been working the same over here. He’s a horse with a fantastic fresh record.”
The 5-year-old homebred has not raced since finishing second in the Listed MSS Security Sprint on Nov. 7. Overall, he has a record 4-5-2 from 22 lifetime starts, including a victory on another straight 1200m course in Flemington’s Bobby Lewis Quality (G2) and a runner-up effort in last February’s Oakleigh Plate (G1) at Caulfield. The major objective is the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) over this course and distance in late March.
“It’s all depending on how he runs and if is he hitting the line strong,” Hayes said. “The form is good and we are definitely aiming for that.
“The horse is very special to me,” Hayes continued. “When I first got my training license, he was in Adelaide with me. He was my first Group winner and I used to ride him all the time. If he can win over here, it would be very special.”
KIMBEAR OUT OF HIBERNATION
Kimbear has some big horseshoes to fill this season, but trainer Doug Watson is optimistic that the son of Temple City may be up to the challenge when he makes his Dubai debut on Thursday’s Dubai World Cup Carnival card. Owned by Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, the 4-year-old bay colt was acquired from the same Southern California well where Watson scooped up subsequent Godolphin Mile (G2) winner Second Summer the previous year. He starts in Thursday’s US$125,000 CEPSA Energy Cup, a 1600m handicap on the main track slated as the third race.
“We were asked to go find some older hoses like we did last year with Second Summer and I saw him run against (multiple graded stakes winner) American Anthem and was very impressed. We took some pictures, vetted him and everything went from there. You look for ones you think can do well out here and hopefully he does.
“Looking back at his form, it took him a while to break his maiden, but it was just hard racing out there in California and he was up against some good horses,” Watson continued. “That run behind American Anthem really set him up for me. He also ran behind (multiple Grade 1 winner) West Coast in the Los Alamitos Derby (G3).”
Though with a sole victory, Kimbear has hit the board in seven of 10 career tries with three seconds and as many thirds. Originally with trainer Eric Kruljac, he is a product of a strong John C. Oxley breeding program. His Grade 3-placed dam Sky Dreamer –a half-sister to 2017 Grade 1 winner Dream Dancing– raced for Oxley and is a daughter of Oxley’s star stud Sky Mesa. Furthermore, Sky Dreamer is a granddaughter of Oxley’s Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos and champion racemare Beautiful Pleasure.
On the track, Kimbear took six tries to break his maiden, but never finished worse than fourth before graduating at 1400m over subsequent stakes winner Sonneteer. Catapulted in class next out, he was sixth of 13 in the 1800m Santa Anita Derby (G1) behind Gormley and subsequent Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Battle of Midway. His best finish in three remaining starts was his solid aforementioned second to American Anthem in the Lazaro Barrera (G3) in mid-May going 1400m.
“I’m not sure what his best distance is because his pedigree is kind of all over the place,” Watson concluded. “We’ll start him over a mile on the dirt and see how he goes. We might even back him up in trip as we go along.”
DE KOCK HIGH ON AL SAHEM
Decorated international trainer Mike de Kock may have another South African bud on the verge of Dubai bloom in Al Sahem. A good-looking, athletic sort, the son of Arlington Million (G1) and Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, Hong Kong) winner Silvano won the South African Derby –the third leg of the Triple Crown– in May of 2017 and is cranking up for the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
On Tuesday morning, the bay 4-year-old had a spirited gallop over Meydan’s main track.
“He’s a top horse; probably top-two of his generation in South Africa,” de Kock said. “He’s matured and I hope to start him in February some time. He’s had a long, gradual build-up and hopefully will be good enough to target (Dubai) World Cup night. We’re thinking ahead with Hong Kong, too. It’s very lucrative racing and we hope to have something left after the Carnival.”
In addition to his aforementioned victory, classy Al Sahem was second in the Durban July (G1) by a short head over 2200m, the South African Classic (G1) over 1800m and the Daily News 2000 (G1) over 2000m.
SECOND SUMMER GETS EQUIPMENT CHANGE
Trainer Doug Watson is hoping for and expecting a turnaround in both luck and form for barn favourite Second Summer when the son of Summer Bird goes to post next out. The 2017 Godolphin Mile (G2) winner still has 2018 Dubai World Cup (G1) dreams, despite a poor break and subsequent performance first out in the 2000m Listed Entisar on Dec. 21 at Meydan. Such was his first effort since his aforementioned triumph.
“We put the visors on him to run in the (Godolphin) Mile last year and he doesn’t break too sharp with them,” Watson explained. “He is never going to be a horse to show a lot of early speed. We’re going to take those off and we’ll wait for the second leg of the Maktoum Challenge with him.
“He couldn’t have come out of the race any better,” Watson continued. “He would have needed that race, as it is, but then he spotted the field a few lengths out of the gate.
“I think you’re going to see the real Second Summer in the future.”
The US$250,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) is slated for Feb. 8 and contested over 1900m on the main track.
ROY H REVVING UP FOR DUBAI
Emphatic Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner Roy H, the likely Eclipse Award champion for America’s top sprinter, is on target for a trip to Dubai, according to his connections. The fruit of international star sire More Than Ready and top sprint filly Elusive Diva turned heads with his past two works at Santa Anita, including a quick four furlongs (800m) in 47 seconds and five furlongs (1000m) a week later in 1:01.60.
The Peter Miller trainee would likely have a rematch with defending Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) victor Mind Your Biscuits, whom he defeated in said Del Mar triumph. He may be joined in the gate by one or two others from Rockingham’s enviable sprinter arsenal, namely 2016 Dubai Golden Shaheen runner-up X Y Jet. Another Rockingham rocket, Bobby Abu Dhabi, is also under consideration.
The Palos Verdes (G2) on Feb. 3 at Santa Anita is his likely goal for the talented charge, the same race Big Jag used to prepare for his domination of the 2000 Dubai Golden Shaheen.
DUBAI WORLD CUP NIGHT STARS AMONG ECLIPSE FINALISTS
The influence of the Dubai World Cup card on America’s Eclipse Awards for year-end champions has never been more apparent than this year. Two of the three finalists for the ceremony’s top honour, Horse of the Year, ran in the Dubai World Cup, while the third is aiming to participate on this year’s Dubai World Cup card.
Dubai World Cup runner-up Gun Runner, on the strength of a stellar latter half of 2017, is the favourite to take the accolade over Dubai World Cup winner Arrogate and standout turf horse World Approval, who is pointing to this year’s Dubai Turf on March 31st.
Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) winner Mind Your Biscuits is a finalist for champion male sprinter and is pointing toward a defense of that title.
In the champion trainer and jockey categories, Dubai World Cup participants Mike Smith (jockey, Arrogate), Javier Castellano (jockey, Keen Ice), Bob Baffert (trainer, Arrogate) and Steve Asmussen (trainer, Gun Runner) comprise two-thirds of the nominees for their respective division’s top honour.
The Eclipse Awards could also have some future Dubai World Cup night runners. In addition to World Approval and Mind Your Biscuits taking aim, Breeders’ Cup Turf winner and champion male turf nominee Talismanic is nominated to the Dubai World Cup Carnival. Additionally, likely champion older mare Forever Unbridled and champion older male nominee Collected are both under consideration for the Dubai World Cup, while the first two finishers in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) –Roy H and Imperial Hint– are finalists for champion sprinter and each reportedly possible for Dubai.
QUICK HITS –Pegase Bloodstock’s The Right Man, an upset winner of last year’s Al Quoz Sprint (G1), has been accepted for the Dubai World Cup Carnival, taking aim once again on the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint on Super Saturday (Mar. 10) as a prep… Godolphin’s popular Group 1 winner Hawkbill is aiming toward the Dubai City of Gold (G2), according to trainer Charlie Appleby, who also confirmed that Carnival opening night 1400m handicap winner D’bai will take aim on the Al Fahidi Fort (G2) at the same distance on Feb. 1… Two-time Dubai World Cup contestant Candy Boy impressed trainer Doug Watson with a sharp 800m drill on Sunday morning and remains on target for a resurfacing in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (G1) on Super Saturday… Jockey Mickael Barzalona’s two victories on Thursday bump him to 45 wins, ranking him fourth all-time at the Carnival (excluding Dubai World Cup night). Christophe Soumillon’s sole victory on the night moved him up to 63. Frankie Dettori remains safely on top with 92 and Ted Durcan is third with 47.