Chuwa Wizard (JPN) – Schooled at the paddock ring before he cantered on the dirt track under his exercise rider Kota Kato.
“He was full of beans this morning,” Kato said. “He breezed on Tuesday and did just hand-walking yesterday, so he was very fresh. He was patient in the starting gate when he got familiarised with it. He will just stretch his legs on dirt tomorrow.”
Great Scot (GB) – Had a steady canter on the main track this morning under his usual work rider, Abdullah Aloufi, who is a successful professional jockey in Saudi Arabia.
Aloufi said: “The dirt track is faster here than in Riyadh and it was the horse’s first time on it yesterday. We just did a steady canter yesterday and today. He was keen, that’s just him but he felt good.”
Jesus’ Team (USA) – A routine two laps on the dirt track for an energetic Jesus’ Team, compelling rider Willo Mercado to pay close attention, with trainer Jose Francisco D’Angelo looking on trackside.
“Today he had his head a little high because the horse wants to go. I said to the rider, let him [stride on]. He’s OK, controllable. He didn’t do a fast time.
Tomorrow we are going to do the same two laps, but more slowly. So we can arrive on raceday with good energy,” D’Angelo said.
It has been a rollercoaster ride for the D’Angelo team, but yesterday’s favourable draw has helped settle the nerves.
D’Angelo continued: “I slept better last night, for the first time. I like the post position (9) because ‘Jesus’ can find a good spot to make an aggressive move in the first part.”
A genuine smile reveals the present sentiment in camp Jesus’ Team as D’Angelo said: “I asked Bob Baffert and my friend Chad Summers about preparation. They are familiar with the environment here. I took their advice and made my plan. All horses are different, and need different things to get ready. ‘Jesus’ is coming into this race perfectly.”
Magny Cours (USA) – After going a bit quicker on Wednesday on the dirt track at Meydan, the André Fabre-trained Magny Cours returned to the training track on Thursday morning.
“Mr Fabre is very happy with him,” said Richard Lambert, the travelling head lad who has been all over the world with the French handler’s runners. “He came to watch him just do a little canter this morning and everything is fine. The horse is calm and doing well. He will not be going back to the dirt track before Saturday.”
Military Law (IRE) – Musabbeh Al Mheiri’s Military Law had his final blow out on Meydan’s dirt track on Thursday. The 6-year-old Dubawi gelding has been assigned stall 5 and Al Mheiri said: “We have a good horse in Military Law. He is honest and works hard and has always shown us that in training. A good draw has improved his chances and we could not have asked for a better spot. We will look for a good break and for Antonio Fresu to get him into a good spot just off the pace so that he can give himself a good chance at the finish.”
Mystic Guide (USA) – Godolphin’s Mike Stidham-trained Mystic Guide came out to the dirt track on Thursday morning and the son of Ghostzapper continues to impress onlookers, including his conditioner.
“This was a race that was in the back of our minds, but obviously Maxfield was possible for this, too,” Stidham said. “We chatted with (head of Godolphin USA) Jimmy Bell about it and after he ran so well at Oaklawn (winning the Grade 3 Razorback), there was a possibility of this race. When Maxfield was sent to Santa Anita, it left the door open and everything just fell into place. Mystic Guide ran so well and came out great, so it worked out.
“It’s an honour and a privilege to be here and especially for a horse for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed on the 25th anniversary,” he continued. “It could not be better and we just can’t wait to get on the racetrack. Going a mile and a quarter, I would love to see him break well and be forward and be in a comfortable stalking position, depending on how fast they’re going in front of him. Luis Saez certainly handled him well at Oaklawn and got along well with him. I’m happy to have him back.
“Since arriving earlier this week Stidham has had an opportunity to look around and is impressed with Meydan as a facility and the Dubai Racing Club, as a whole.
“It’s fabulous and pretty amazing,” he said. “I can’t put enough exclamation points around it. The track is fantastic and the event is really well-prepared and Stephanie (Cooley, head of the International Department) has been vital to this. The barn is great and I wish more American track owners would come and see how these places are made. Just beautiful barns that are well-kept and you get lots of help. It’s second to none.
“When you think about it, this long walk is the opposite of what we do back home and they’re getting a lot more training wise just from the walk back and forth,” he continued. “It’s a whole different process. It’s good for the horse, as long as the horse is handling it well and ours seems to be thriving on it. He has good energy and his coat and weight look fantastic, so he’s obviously thriving on the routine. I’m sure there are horses who come over here who don’t do well with this, but fortunately we are doing well.”
Salute The Soldier (GER) – Stall 11 was not roundly welcomed by his nonetheless upbeat jockey Adrie de Vries, who said: “The draw could have been kinder but the horse is in great form and his final piece of serious work was very pleasing. When he works well he normally runs well so let’s hope that is the case again!”
Sleepy Eyes Todd (USA) – An easy morning was in store for the charismatic Sleepy Eyes Todd as he made his way around the Meydan dirt track. Trainer Migel Angel Silva looked on from the rail, content with what he saw.
“He looks very good right now. He hasn’t missed a meal since we got here. He’s in really good shape,” Silva said.
After a month in the UAE, arriving here the day after the Saudi Cup, the big race is coming up quickly for Sleepy Eyes Todd and Silva.
“I’m not nervous because he’s the kind of horse that doesn’t make you nervous. He always gives you 100%. With some other horses you don’t always know how they are going to run, this guy always gives it all. It gives you confidence,” he continued.
“It’s an amazing experience, we are really grateful. With all the invitations, with all the people, with God, the owner, the organisation, everybody. We are grateful to be here. “
Thegreatcollection (USA) – Owner Zaur Sekrekov is excited at having a big-race outing with his popular campaigner.
“We are just delighted to be in the race and our horse has really seemed to progress this season apart from Super Saturday but there was a tack issue with the bit in that race,” he said.
“Doug Watson and his team seem very happy with the horse and a middle draw looks a good one. We cannot wait for Saturday!”
Title Ready (USA) – Charles Fipke’s homebred Title Ready came to the dirt track at 7am and had an easy hack around with his trainer Dallas Stewart watching from the viewing area around the 1400m mark of the 1750m dirt track. A son of More Than Ready, Title Ready is a homebred descendent of the brilliant mare Personal Ensign.
On Wednesday, the nearly black charge drew post four.
“The draw is OK,” Stewart said. “I’d maybe rather be a little more outside, but what can you do. We came to race and I’m looking forward to it. He’s a horse I think has to step up, but that’s why they run the race. I’m glad to be here with [Fipke] and we’re excited.”