The second night of the 2015 Dubai World Cup Carnival is Thursday, with the Dubai Golden Shaheen and UAE Derby the main featured focuses by way of the Guineas Trials and the Dubawi Stakes. Below you will find our analysis for the races.
CLICK HERE for the free past performances (US-style), courtesy of AmWestEntertainment.com (link with date will appear on that linked page when available)
Race 1 – $75,000 UAE 1,000 Guineas Trial sponsored by DP World UAE Region – 1,400m – dirt
#1 AD IDEM makes her first start off the long South African quarantine, and her first on dirt, which is surely a question mark. Her two lifetime starts are basically opposites – she was well off-the-pace and flew home to nab a win in the shadow of the post in her career debut, then she was with the pace and led early at Scottsville in a stake before fading in the late stages. None of her rivals in those races have had any overwhelming success since. There is plenty of back dirt pedigree on her dam’s side, but realistically, how well will she go off the long break?
#2 LOCAL TIME was slow away in her first start but put it together with three consecutive wins after that, both on all-weather and then the season-ending Oh So Sharp (G3) at Newmarket. The second, fourth, and sixth placers from that came back to run fourth, second, and first, respectively, in the Celebration Stakes (Listed) at Newbury, so the form held-up. Oh So Sharp third Prize Exhibit was a solid fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf after drawing into the race from the reserves list.
Her wins on the all-weather were solid. The five finishers behind Local Time in her maiden win have all won since, and having watched the replays, it actually looked like her best performance, lengthening away from the field with aplomb.
#4 COMEDY QUEEN is by top dirt sire Distorted Humor out of the productive mare Miss Caerleona, whose top get was multiple G1-placed Karen’s Caper. In her one start on all-weather at Kempton, she settled mid-division and seemed under a ride a long-way from home, but finally put it all together late in the game. The second-placer finisher in that race, Zari, came back to win a few weeks later over the same course and distance. Her sire suggests she will go over this trip, but there are some thoughts that she could be too far back given the style of racing on the dirt so far.
#7 ICECAPADA is somewhat interesting considered she won on debut at Øvrevoll in Norway, but was disqualified after the fact due to whip misuse by the rider. The horse she defeated, Pretty Picture, was formerly with Gay Kelleway in the UK and had been third in a conditions event in Sweden just before this race. There is really not much to go on here, so she is a roll of the dice.
#6 GOOD PLACE was an easy winner when facing just three rivals (two from Godolphin) in her maiden win when second-out, and then beat another group of three in her third lifetime start. It’s fairly difficult to make too much out of those grass wins other than the fact she was best. Then, she was last of seven over the soft going in the Dubai Fillies Mile (G1) to end her season. She challenged for the lead on the gooey ground in that last race and then was the first to be asked for run and quickly folded coming up the straight at Newmarket and was essentially eased. Her full sibling Press Room, a two-time winner on all-weather in the UK, is 0-for-4 on dirt in the UAE this year, with two third placings, rated 79.
There are question marks on all these fillies, so the decision comes down to the one whose races impressed us most, and that is Local Time.
1st – #2 LOCAL TIME, 2nd – #4 COMEDY QUEEN, 3rd – #1 AD IDEM
Race 2 – $110,000 Mina Al Hamriya Handicap (Rated 95-105) – 2,000m – dirt
#1 STORM BELT ran very well against a much higher-rated Cooptado in the Entisar and preceded that with a demolition of Henry Clay, who nearly won in similar company last week at the Carnival over 1,900m. This early dirt success should have him bang on for this spot, making him very logical, but don’t forget he’s topweight here. There is enough pace that he should get a good tow into the race from a midfield position, saving ground.
#5 LE BERNARDIN wheels back one week off a tough race, but one in which we surely took note of his incredibly wide run. If he can wheel back in good form, he should have a handier position here. Last week, he covered 8 metres more than longshot winner I’m Back when third, and 26 metres more than Henry Clay. A better trip puts him in the mix, but it just seems a tall task to get something even better this week.
#8 FAMOUS KID is going on the dirt for the first time and his sire was, of course, a Dubai World Cup winner on the dirt, but his dam has been quite productive as well. Moyesii dropped both St. Leger winner Mastery and Kirklees, a Group 2 winner at his best, but also a turf handicap winner at the 2009 Carnival. Kirklees tried the dirt once, running fourth behind Asiatic Boy in the third round of the Maktoum Challenge in 2009. His all-weather win at Kempton was certainly pleasing to watch, his first try away from the grass. Famous Kid went to take up the running down the back and stayed-on well. James Doyle will need to break well and secure a good spot from gate eight.
There is plenty of dam-side dirt pedigree on #9 ZAIN EAGLE. Pearl City was a winner of the Ballerina (G1) at Saratoga, and six of eleven overall, with all wins coming on the sandy stuff. This guy goes forward too, something he’ll have to do from the widest gate, and Silvestre De Sousa on board has been riding lights-out on the surface. He’s a danger to wire them if he sees out the ten furlongs, which has been a bit of a problem lately.
1st – #1 STORM BELT, 2nd – #8 FAMOUS KID – 3rd – #9 ZAIN EAGLE
Race 3 – $60,000 Fujairah Container Terminal Handicap (Rated 80-94) – 1,900m – dirt
This is the first of the, technically, non-Carnival-eligible races – designed for horses on the outside looking in and hoping to put on a good show to get into the richer races. And at that, it’s an incredibly tricky race when reviewing the form.
The locals have been bouncing around in lesser company, and that specifically includes #8 STREET ACT and #9 SHIHAB, who have both been competitive on this surface and should be involved regardless. There just isn’t much to say about them.
Former Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford is the trainer of #3 KNAVERY and gets his first start as a conditioner at the Carnival with this guy, and his charge is incredibly well-bred for the dirt. By Pacific Classic winner Candy Ride out of a turf-sprinting mare Tight Spin, who was by multiple Grade 1 winner Favorite Trick, who took the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and was an American Horse of the Year.
#5 LAYL goes forward and will make his first start in over a year, and first locally, for Doug Watson. That tactical speed could help him in a race that could be over less than his best distance. #1 ASATIR has a decent local win, but had less impact in tougher company coming up the hill at Meydan and has to deal with top weight here. He loses the blinkers, which could be an improvement, though he might show more speed in a race that seems to have plenty who want to be involved early.
#2 STORMARDAL has been useful in the UK and now makes a dirt debut for Ismail Mohammed. He’s another who likes to race fairly handy which would seemingly only help him on this type of surface.
There really isn’t much to go on here – we’re siding with the breeding and more than interesting connections.
1st – #3 KNAVERY, 2nd – 5 LAYL, 3rd – #1 ASATIR
Race 4 – $75,000 UAE 2,000 Guineas Trial sponsored by DP World UAE Region – 1,400m – dirt
#6 MUBTAAHIJ is a rare commodity in this race – a horse with a local start. Granted, it was a lowly maiden where the field was roughly 0-for-100 lifetime, but he still missed the break from the rail, draw, rushed up into contention, settled on the rail and took the kickback, eased outside, took a while to get going and ran down a career maiden. That was over 1,600m, and now he’s back down to 1,400 – which might not be best – he looked like he wanted more ground, not less.
#2 MAFTOOL definitely has the pedigree for the dirt, by American Grade 1 winner Hard Spun out of a Mr. Greeley mare who is a half to quite a few dirt winners, including dirt graded stakes sprinter Abraaj. He has some issues getting out of the gate, and that could be a bit of a concern. He was second in his only start away from the grass in the Sirenia Stakes (G3) at Kempton, a race won by Burnt Sugar before he went on to run fourth beaten a length in the Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) on the Arc undercard. His win in the Tattersall Stakes (G3) was decent enough, though none of the top runners behind him have come back yet. He’s a coin toss – will he like the dirt?
#1 AJWAD sure has breeding on his side. He’s out of Asian Influence, who is a half-sibling to S.S. Asiatic, the dam of Asiatic Boy, a UAE Triple Crown winner on dirt from the Nad Al Sheba days. Both Ajwad and Asiatic Boy were sired by Not For Sale, linking the two even more. He had one start on dirt in Argentina and was a maiden winner on grass. Interestingly enough, Asiatic Boy started his career in the same fashion – a second on dirt, then a maiden win on grass. If the pedigree carries over and he’s traveled well, he’s surely a legitimate chance.
It’s just been two starts for #7 PADLOCK, but he dominated a small field at Southwell in late November, and the third place finisher came back to claim a maiden win next time out. Prior to that, he did have some trouble. It’s always tough to tell how some horses go given a small field and clear passage, but Padlock did it with ease last time. A slight progression puts him in the mix.
Discussed in the 2015 Dubai Racing Comprehensive, #10 VOLATILE could be just about anything. His win in Sweden was as easy as it looks on paper, and he has natural speed to stay close, an asset here. When given a chance at Newmarket, he surely didn’t disappoint, running third on soft ground that was easily excusable, but he nearly pulled it off. He seems a very fast runner, who is well-drawn here in gate two and should be prominent from the outset.
Despite a win on turf to start his career, #12 WILD CITIZEN is bred for the dirt through and through, but you can’t take all the Scandinavians.
We aren’t blown away by Maftool’s past races, though he is well-bred for dirt. Ajwad is coming off a long break and will definitely enjoy a longer trip, but is also bred for this stuff. Mubtaahij drops back in company after really needing to dig in to beat a bad bunch. Yes – we are going the way of the Swedes.
1st – #10 VOLATILE, 2nd – #1 AJWAD, 3rd – #2 MAFTOOL
Race 5- $120,000 Jebel Ali Port Handicap (Rated 100-110) – 2,000m – turf
It looks as if there is a legitimate early tempo here with #1 OCEAN TEMPEST, #3 TENOR, #5 WITHOUT FEAR and #7 SENNOCKIAN STAR all habitually racing forward, with two of those four really going to the front with regularity.
Tenor likes to race forward but has done it against quality company. His win in the Fortune Stakes (Listed) from September plays well in this bunch, defeating Producer. Sennockian Star is similarly handy and his last four wins have all come at this distance. He did two back, but was promoted due to a prohibited substance test on the original winner. He likes firmer going too, which is in his favour here. Still, neither are reliable enough for us.
The lack of recent racing seems a bit troubling for #9 HAAFAGUINEA, who was a solid performer in two starts last year at the Carnival. While second behind an easy winner in eventual Dubai World Cup third Cat O’Mountain, his second-up run was very encouraging when even closer over this course and distance. He was tugging hard in the early going that day and Silvestre DeSousa stopped fighting, allowing him to go from near the rear to tracking the lead group down the back. That probably drained him of some needed energy late in the race, and still, he fought on, beaten just a half-length. If he settled being that likely strong early pace, and a draw in one should help, he’s the pick.
It could be a swift rebound for #8 EL ESTRUENDOSO, who was disappointing on the dirt first-up, but bounces right back on grass, where he’s been very close to winning before at Meydan.
#6 MR POMMEROY is a compelling runner, having been in top French company, mostly, for Henri-Alex Pantall. Privately purchased, and now with Salem bin Ghadayer, he sports just wo wins on his mark, both over the all-weather at Cagnes-Sur-Mer. But this is a step back down into handicap company, no doubt, and could hit him where he needs it. Plus, don’t think we didn’t see that sixth placing in the French Derby, beaten just more than five by The Grey Gatsby – quality form. Still, we lean against him on top but expect more in the future.
There’s just no argument that #2 STAR EMPIRE wants more ground, but he was a closing third in this race a year earlier when getting a good pace to run at, something that should happen again. He doesn’t win often, but is as consistent as they come.
1st – #9 HAAFAGUINEA, 2nd – #2 STAR EMPIRE, 3rd – #6 MR POMMEROY
Race 6 – $150,000 Dubawi Stakes (Listed) sponsored by DP World UAE Region – 1,200m – dirt
If this race doesn’t set a course record for the distance at Meydan, we’d be shocked. There is an absolute load of speed to contend with – #3 TOUCH GOLD loves to lead, #4 ALMARGO goes close, #5 CASPIAN PRINCE mixes it up, and #6 CONVEYANCE goes close. On the outside, #8 MUARRAB and #9 MUANNID are never far behind, if not on the lead, as Muannid was in his New Year’s Eve dirt debut. You get the feeling this race could break a few equine hearts when all is said and done, but which ones?
#2 UNITED COLOR won this race a year ago when on the all-weather in what was his second-up start, a position he finds himself in again, but on dirt. He is winless on this surface, or any dirt, but has been very close before across town at Jebel Ali.
#7 REYNALDOTHEWIZARD would be one who sits off the pace. The 2013 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner returned in this spot last year and was an average seventh before running second to Rich Tapestry in the Mahab Al Shimaal. He likely needs this one again, but the pace could help set it up.
#1 RUSSIAN SOUL gets his first try on the dirt and the end result is anyone’s guess. He was second here a year ago and won the Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) after that. He has had a long campaign and rarely fires a complete dud. This is a real test, and the pace should help him.
Muarrab has won four straight but certainly with plenty of time in between, and Muannid just absolutely torched the competition last time and comes back to the site of his career topper just a few weeks back. Both might get run into the ground with a strong pace, though. This is a tough call, we side with Muarrab, who is clearly back to health after that last effort.
1st – #8 MUARRAB, 2nd – #7 REYNALDOTHEWIZARD, 3rd – #2 UNITED COLOR
Race 7 – $110,000 Mina Rashid Handicap (Rated 95-105) – 1,600m – turf
#1 SLUMDOGMILLIONAIRE was going to appear at least year’s Carnival but a few setbacks kept him from making it to the races. He was going to run at Abu Dhabi earlier this season but suffered a slight muscle pull. That said, we’re hearing he’s in tip-top shape and worked over the Meydan turf course recently much to the pleasure of connections. With superb South African form on his ledger, he’s likely going to be very dangerous even if he needs this race. But you almost have to think he needs the run and is doing it the hard way – as top weight, and from gate 13. He makes us want to go value hunting.
Fellow South African #4 CAPTAIN LARS goes forward, and actually won his last entirely on the front end, something that hasn’t been done in a non-straight course turf race at Meydan in a long, long time. Unlike the comment in the form guide, Captain Lars did not rear, or hang out, in his run two back – he was just off the pace and tucked-in less than a length back around the turn to track the early leader, dove for the rail when it cutaway in the straight, hit the lead and broke clear, and was caught in the shadow of the winning post.
#8 JALLY could absolutely bounce back after a wide trip from gate 13 last week. He now gets in as a near light-weight in this field for Cam Hardie, who took the finale a week ago on our 8-1 top pick, Safety Check.
Want a longshot to bounce back, why not try #2 ROYAL RIDGE? You can easily toss that race from last week after the dirt was clearly a failed experiment. He’s been in the UAE all summer yet again, and only made one start last season. His back grass form, behind Anaerobio and Trade Storm is really top quality, and if you go back to his runs before coming to the UAE, he kept top company in South Africa. Paul Hanagan chose #10 JAWHAR after riding Royal Ridge last week, so it’s not the greatest sign, but there are so many similar types in here, the value is a legitimate enticer.
#10 DARK EMERALD is well-drawn and can track the pace. He’s consistently in the mix, and was a winner first-up last year in a class three handicap. It’s a bit of a jump in the action here, but the draw should keep him where he wants to be and give trainer Brendan Powell a legitimate shot at a first Carnival win with his first starter.
#14 BILLINGSGATE will likely get plenty of attention with the connections, but it’s been a while since he won on grass, and that form hasn’t turned out since. Horses behind Billingsgate’s Class 3 handicap win on July 16 were a combined 1-27 after that, with the lone win coming in a Class 4 handicap.
The top weight is the classiest, by far, but we are willing to take a shot.
1st – #2 ROYAL RIDGE, 2nd – #1 SLUMDOGMILLIONAIRE, 3rd – #10 DARK EMERALD
An abbreviated analysis for Saturday’s local meeting at Meydan will not be available until Friday.