An eight race card has been assembled for the opening meeting of Meydan. No more introducing is necessary – let’s hop right into the races. Below is our video analysis of the first four races of the meeting. Video for the second half of the card is posted beginning with race five.
RACE 1 – $55,000 Maktoum Challenge Round 1 (Purebred Arabians – G1) – 1,600 meters, Tapeta
Sadly, while entered on Monday, both Mizzna and Fryvolous did not stay in at final declarations and the last two winners of the Dubai Kahayla Classic (G1) will not meet in the opening event at Meydan. #8 KANDAR DU FALGAS has won the last two runnings of this event and will try to do it again off a long layoff, in fact, he hasn’t been to the races since winning the 2009 edition. Having had success off the long break could make him dangerous, especially considering he walloped Fryvolous by more than eight lengths in 2009. Stablemate #12 NO RISK AL MAURY is top rated off some big wins in England carrying significant imposts. He is undefeated when racing on a non-grass surface and does have a slight recency edge over his stable mate.
#5 MONARKOS CS was successful in consecutive efforts at Delaware Park in America where he did most of the running from the front end. It would be no surprise to see Richard Mullen send him for the lead and possibly not look back. #9 SANTHAL also looms a large prospect for the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum entry. His greatest successes have come over more ground and while he has the best recent form, this just could be too short.
1st – #12 NO RISK AL MAURY, 2nd – #8 KANDAR DU FALGAS, 3rd – #5 MONARKOS CS
RACE 2 – $50,000 UAE 1000 Guineas Trial - 1,400 meters, Tapeta
Trainer Badr Al Subiah will start his first runners in the Emirates with two undefeated fillies in #13 WAASEMAH and #9 MUNTHERAH, both seemingly talented fillies, shipping in from Saudi Arabia. In her maiden effort at Al Janadriah, Waasemah, a daughter of Dubai World Cup placer Dynever (who stands in Saudi and has had tremendous success with his youngsters), destroyed a maiden field by more than ten lengths in a time faster than most any others I saw while researching the Saudi form. Breaking that 1:25 mark seems a tough task there, but Waasemah did it with aplomb before wheeling back two weeks later and knocking off winners. She clearly enjoyed running over the surface in Riyadh and the breeding is more than solid. While her dam Perch (by Seeking the Gold) was lightly raced, her second dam (Royal Indy) was a Grade 1 winner in America, by former Horse of the Year A.P. Indy. It doesn’t hurt that Ted Durcan gets the mount.
Her Saudi stablemate, #9 MUNTHERAH, is also unbeaten in two starts in Riyadh. I am not as impressed with the form but it should be noted she did handily defeat juvenile males in her last start and an excited Abdiel Jaen, who rode her in both Riyadh starts, is in for the ride. My belief is that both horses are live in this spot and their successful recency edge on some in this field bodes well.
#1 TALENTA is stuck with the top weighting her given her Group 1 success and southern hemisphere breeding. That breeding does inspire us to like her a bit, too. Wild Event strikes with over 20% of his offspring when trying an all-weather track and the damsire, Lode, is as regally-bred as they come. She showed great professionalism when winning the GP Margarida Polak Lara (G1) at Gavea before being put away for the Carnival. A small opening at the rail popped in and she burst through to take a narrow victory. Talenta was second beaten three on the dirt in Brazil in her second career start and improved on the grass following that. With the long layoff, the impost, and some other question marks, we will tread lightly with Talenta.
#4 RAIHANA has spectacular breeding by Elusive Quality out of a Sunday Silence mare and she get over the Tapeta well. Despite her great connections, I just think she is a cut below here and will have to prove it otherwise.
Should we take note of #7 DAWNBREAK? Can you recall the last time Godolphin’s first start at the Carnival was rated so low compared to the competition? This daugher of Distorted Humor is incredibly well bred and her lone career win came over the Polytrack at Lingfield in September when making most of the running despite a wide draw. Since that race, the field of 13 has made 22 subsequent starts and not attracted a single winner and just five placings. We’ll stand pat on Dawnbreak.
1st – #13 WAASEMAH, 2nd – #1 TALENTA, 3rd – #9 MUNTHERAH
RACE 3 – $110,000 Intidab – 1,900 meters (abt 9.5F), Tapeta
This is a brutally difficult contest to analyze with horses coming from a variety of quality runners, mostly from grass racing backgrounds, making their Dubai debut on the Tapeta. #4 LIZARD’S DESIRE and #6 IMVULA ran in top company for Mike De Kock and Saeed bin Suroor, respectively, in South Africa and Australia. I think both horses could have trouble adapting in this particular spot with some other decent performers getting the best.
#13 GOOD AGAIN had a cracking debut on the AW at Lingfield back in April and switched to the grass following that. Under Eddie Ahern, Good Again settled at the back of a small, compact field and swung out for the stretch drive in her AW debut. Just as she was commencing a run, she was shut off by a horse who bore out in the straight and badly hampered her stride. Nonetheless, Good Again rallied like a good thing and burst through to win narrowly, galloping out well beyond the field. If we see an effort like that, again, from this Gerard Butler trainee, it could be a happy night. On another note, her sire, Dubai Destination, has produced a set of prodigous offspring who really show an affinity for all-weather surfaces. While the 1,900 meters distance could be a deal-breaker, we still give this filly a real chance at a square price. The back end of a Ted Durcan double? We think so.
Oh what to do with #2 EMERALD WILDERNESS? This 6-year-old gelding shows immediate form in two novice hurdles and a chase, in which he fell coming to the last fence. Go beyond the form you can see in the guide and you will find that Emerald Wilderness has three wins, three seconds and a third from seven AW starts, including wins over some longer distances, one being a Wolverhampton score traveled over the extended nine furlongs of today’s trip. Here is another who could pop the long shot performance if he is right off the bench.
#9 TARTAN GIGHA does not have the same record of success of AW surfaces like the aforementioned competitors in here, but it is solid: one win, three seconds, one third from six starts. Mark Johnston partners with Ryan Moore for a chance in a wide open contest.
#12 STOCK MARKET plodded along with two wins from middling company in Saudi Arabia. He could put forth a decent run, but there is nothing overwhelming about the form that we can offer other than the fact that racing at Taif often offers different results that when back in Riyadh.
1st – #13 GOOD AGAIN, 2nd – #2 EMERALD WILDERNESS, 3rd – #9 TARTAN GIGHA
RACE 4 – $110,000 Dumaani – 2,200 meters (abt 11F), Tapeta
#5 BAB AL SALAM could be the first winner at Meydan for homestanding Godolphin. With three wins from three starts over AW in England, and five of six overall, this son of Seeking The Gold stands as a logical choice. There is some consideration for pause, however. I am a bit concerned that the company he kept when racing in England was really quite average, and while there are no world-beaters in these races, it just seems tougher here. Waldvogel was nothing special when racing at Nad Al Sheba last year and yet Bab Al Salam was all out to stay in front last time out. While he offers no value, Bab Al Salam is the likliest winner in the race.
Luca Cumani brought #10 DRUNKEN SAILOR to Dubai for a reason as he could have left him back home with little question, but yet, the son of Tendulkar comes the Carnival. I watched a replay of his second place finish over the AW at Dundalk from 2008 and was quite impressed. After a rather slow gallop early, Drunken Sailor settled towards the rear on the rail and swung across the back of about 12 horses and found a tremendous late stride. He was hampered in the final 200 meters and that may have been just enough to keep him out of the picture. This gelding LOVES to get near the finish and has been game throughout his career, why not give him the chance to do it Thursday? Kieran Fallon loves the fact Meydan feels like Santa Anita, at least he said so a week ago, and he might just have enough to get home first here.
#14 PETROVSKY was fifth behind quality stayer Father Time in his 2008 debut on AW at Great Leighs and reeled off three consecutive wins over the AW. He is saddled with a wide draw (13) and likes to race with prominence, something that could help or hurt depending upon how the course plays in the early going. Royston Ffrench has been riding incredibly well on the local circuit and could be sitting on another live mount.
#4 NOISY SILENCE has really progessed well this season for trainer Anthony Manuel, only getting better with age. A third in the Jebel Ali Stakes was a superb finish and he is rewarded with a big jump in the ratings to get into this event. The waters get deeper here, however, and a career best is likely necessary.
1st – #10 DRUNKEN SAILOR, 2nd – #5 BAB AL SALAM, 3rd – #14 PETROVSKY
Video analysis previewing races five through eight:
RACE 5 – $120,000 Kayrawan – 1,200 meters (abt 6F), Tapeta
“I’m thrilled with” #10 RILEYSKEEPINGFAITH, said trainer Mick Channon as the 4-year-old newly gelded son of Hunting Lion takes to the Tapeta for the first time. Channon said he slowly brought this big horse along and really is quite pleased with him. How will he go over the AW? Hunting Lion succeeds at a solid clip with his offspring trying the all-weather surface. The down side? How about a layoff of more than 14 months? Will he need a run? Sure.
Godolphin offers two prospects in Australians #1 AICHI and #2 DESUETUDE, both of whom have sprinted with top company down under. Judging their transferral to the Tapeta is anyone’s guess, but this is a class break for both horses, so consideration for the home team must be given.
We will see plenty of #3 STAR CROWNED throughout the Carnival as Rashed Bouresly loves to keep his horses on the track as often as possible. Now his stable star, this gelding shows up at the races every time and puts in a dandy effort often. He won when first off an 18-month layoff from August 2006 to January 2008 and then again when running off a six-month break from May 2008 to November 2008. You have to think the Kuwaiti training sensation knows first up is a great time for this son of Kingmambo and a good post can’t hurt either. That second to Big City Man in the Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) does not hurt the resume and he is the pick.
How about Macau wonder-horse #8 GOOD CONTROL? 9 for 12, this Australian-bred always shows up, but judging this form is IMPOSSIBLE. He could be any kind, but a decent rating and a penchant for placing doesn’t hurt.
1st – #3 STAR CROWNED, 2nd – #10 RILEYSKEEPINGFAITH, 3rd – #8 GOOD CONTROL
RACE 6 – $175,000 Mustanfar – 2,000 meters (abt 10F), Tapeta
How far does #8 KHOR DUBAI go? For the most part, I find that this it he primary question for the sixth race. Of other note, Khor Dubai raced in Godolphin blue when he was a very capable third behind Gitano Hernando (who went on to win the Grade 1 Goodwood at Santa Anita). Now, he is in the care of Abdullah bin Huzaim whose only 2009 Carnival win came in the last race of the ten-night event. Regardless, the son of Kheleyf, who clearly has sired offspring who much prefer sprinting distances, will be asked to travel an extra furlong more than ever before. Still, he is the class of the field when racing off the grass and I think that makes him the top selection.
#9 MERCHANT MARINE failed to pick up the running in his only 2009 Carnival start and was sixth beaten 11 behind Jet Express at Jebel Ali in his first start since that lackluster local debut. With a drop in the ratings, this Doug Watson trainee gets a weight break, similar to what he carried in the US, and that could make some difference. We know he has some racing guts inside and this wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he sprang a decent performance on Thursday.
#4 WHISPERING GALLERY seems the likely favorite in this event given his 3-for-4 record, all of which did come on turf. Most are likely to ignore that as Godolphin runner with Dettori and strong three-month campaign is in the bag. He races prominent and could be an early pacesetter from a solid draw (7). The question is simply one of surface, and I’m willing to pass on using him up top in favor of the experience over AW surfaces.
1st – #8 KHOR DUBAI, 2nd – #4 WHISPERING GALLERY, 3rd – #9 MERCHANT MARINE
RACE 7 – $200,000 Maktoum Challenge Round 1 (G3) – 1,600 meters, Tapeta
Several days ago when Simon Crisford spoke of Godolphin’s former American-based runners, #7 MIDSHIPMAN topped the list with a seemingly enthusiastic Crisford identifying the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner as “doing well.” He had just two starts in 2009, a romp at Belmont Park followed by a gutsy effort in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) where he finished only three-quarters of a length back in third. For his second race off the shelf, it was a game effort and showed me that the son of Unbridled’s Song was back to his old form.
Godolphin has kept him in training and an early start to the Carnival figures a positive sign for the colt who had so much trouble here last year, failing to make it to the races. If his race Thursday is similar to his previous form, he will go close and possibly aim to bring them all the way on the front end. Possible issues: a wide draw. Stuck out in the 14 stall, it could be a long run to clear over to take the lead, but a wide run in his comeback effort at Belmont Park last September didn’t seem to cause a major ruffle. The top pick.
Stablemate #8 MY INDY won this event last year, taking the second round as well, before a fifth in the Dubai World Cup (G1). He was coming off a layoff from the 2008 UAE Derby when bowing in this race last year, so we know he takes to the running when fresh. The quality of this year’s field just far surpasses what he faced previously and have to think a huge effort is what would be required and we aren’t banking on that.
#4 GLORIA DE CAMPEAO finished second in the 2009 Dubai World Cup (G1), but you would have never known it. He was 14 lengths behind winner Well Armed and is a stalwart of Dubai racing. He was last seen holding on for a desperate win in the Singapore international Airlines Cup (G1) over the classy Presvis. There is little doubt in my mind that this guy needs a run before showing his best, which prior to a handicap win last year at Nad Al Sheba, wasn’t something he had done often. Expect him to race prominent in the early mix and hope to hang around near the finish.
#12 PREMIO LOCO has been first or second in 11 of his 16 career starts but ducked top company when in Germany at the end of last season. His success on the all-weather surfaces is notable, measuring five wins and a second from seven starts (the unplaced finish was his first career race). Again, this is an issue of quality for me. Premio Loco faces the best AW company of his career in this stakes event and
1st – #14 MIDSHIPMAN, 2nd – #11 GLORIA DE CAMPEAO, 3rd – #9 MY INDY
RACE 8 – $110,000 Daaher – 1,400 meters, Tapeta
#4 SIROCCO BREEZE is most likely a heavy choice for Godolphin here, making his fourth lifetime start in this handicap. The son of Green Desert was a heavy favorite in his return at Lingfield in October and was roused to the lead under a Frankie Dettori drive, pulling clear to win in the end by more than three lengths. While overracing in the early stage, surely a sign of coming off the long layoff, Dettori settled him well and there is no reason to think they cannot do the deed again on Thursday.
If it weren’t for Sirocco Breeze, #6 GREEN COAST might finally get that win Doug Watson has been searching for. After two 2008 wins, Green Coast has been nothing but game, registering two seconds and three thirds in six starts since. This is his third off the layoff and I believe poses the biggest challenge to the favorite.
#7 JAASOOS represents the connections of Dhruba Selvaratnam and William Buick, who have been nothing short of a dynamic duo in the Emirates over the last few weeks. Third, beaten less than a length by the fast-improving Ibn Battuta, who we are expecting to see at the Carnival soon, Jaasoos has the best last line of the locals and just seems poised to continue a move forward. While a win might be tough, expect the son of Noverre to be near the finish yet again for the hot hands.
Jeremy Noseda has every right to think he will get a good run from #8 LEAHURST. 2-for2 on the AW back home, Leahurst gets a step up in company today to tougher, and is assigned a rating to go along with the class jump. He will have every right to run a good one in yet another wide open race.
1st – #4 SIROCCO BREEZE, 2nd – #6 GREEN COAST, 3rd – #7 JAASOOS
Good luck at the races!