Race 5 – $1,000,000 Al Quoz Sprint (G1), sponsored by Emirates NBD, 1,000 metres, Turf
The top two finishers in the Meydan Sprint reoppose, with Mike de Kock indicating that his runner #7 SHEA SHEA is the likeliest winner for his yard out of 13 to face the starter on Saturday, and it’s with good reason. Shea Shea set the course record and looked no worse for it, romping home to win in his second start of the season at Meydan. He is is a deserving favourite.
#15 SOLE POWER ran second in the Meydan Sprint for the second consecutive year, and just missed winning this race a year ago, caught by Ortensia in the final strides. Trainer Ed Lynam noted before this year’s seasonal debut that Sole Power was not as tuned for that run, and would be a significant improver, and deKock told us this week he is convinced Sole Power is a significant danger to his otherwise declared best chance. Here is where we find Sole Power intriguing.
Speed is plentiful in these races – but American #6 VARSITY is absolutely going to burn on the front end as he knows no other way, and #3 GANAS has to be an attendant to the speed. They will light the fuse and allow a chasing Shea Shea to find his way from mid-pack, and Sole Power to get a swifter run into the race. Look at the sectional times from the Meydan Sprint, and you’ll see the rationale for deKock’s concerns.
Shea Shea: 13.58, 10.56, 10.45, 10.76, 11.67 (last 100 in 5.97)
Sole Power: 14.02, 10.47, 10.51, 10.73, 11.67 (last 100 in 5.88)
Through the benefit of these sectional times, it is easier to deconstruct the pace of the straight 1,000 metres. Sole Power was basically as fast as the course record setter, and came home slightly faster, bar the opening 200 metres. Some suggest he is a 1,200-metre horse, but they would seem to forget he saw the 1,000 in this race, and before, in absolutely fine form.
If Shea Shea is to chase a slightly faster early gallop, it could draw Sole Power in a better spot.
#16 MR BIG is a model of consistency, 19-for-19 in the first three, and the form leads you to believe he has been off since December, when winning a restricted race in Penang, Malaysia in course record fashion. While true, and a pace presence, he has actually had several barrier trials (similar to training races) at 1,000 metres on the Polytrack in Singapore. On March 12, his last trial was 1.3 seconds faster than the next fastest horse to trial that day from a total of 28 to visit the starter. Michael Freedman has him in good form and he is a placing chance.
#11 INVINCIBLE ASH just hasn’t seemed her old self at Meydan this year, but it is worth noting the mare did have some progressive trackwork in an 800-meter breeze on Wednesday, which leads us to think she might just be in the mix again, albeit a huge longshot.
#1 EAGLE REGIMENT has had issues with a hoof this week and was declared as 50-50 to make the race, with the glass seeming more half-empty.
1st – #15 SOLE POWER, 2nd – #7 SHEA SHEA, 3rd – #16 MR BIG