where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2009-03-23 18:55:05  

Albertus Maximus, the Dubai World Cup contender owned by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum, galloped over 2000m after standing quietly and surveying Nad al Sheba from the finish line.

With exercise rider Rob Massey aboard, Albertus Maximus exhibited eagerness with a strong stride and he evoked memories of Sheikh Hamdan’s 2007 Dubai World Cup winner Invasor as he turned his head to look around while galloping. Assistant trainer Trish McLaughlin said Massey reported that Albertus Maximus felt “awesome.”

“He said (Albertus Maximus) was watching himself on the big screen as he went past it; he was just taking everything in,” McLaughlin said. “He’s been great since he’s been here. He hasn’t missed a beat.”

Anak Nakal also galloped as he prepares for Saturday’s feature race. Tim Poole, long-time assistant to trainer Nicholas Zito, said the 4-year-old will gallop into the race.

“He had his work before he left,” Poole said in reference to a half-mile breeze in :48.60 at Palm Meadow Downs in Florida on March 16, the day before the colt shipped to Dubai.

Anak Nakal has lost four starts since winning the Pennsylvania Derby last September. Poole said if the Dubai World Cup unfolds in a manner that suits Anak Nakal, a closer, he expects the 4-year-old will run well.

“If there is speed up front; he has that closing kick that he can use, which he does when he wants to,” Poole said.

Poole said Zito, a Hall of Fame trainer who has saddled two Kentucky Derby winners (Strike the Gold and Go for Gin), will watch the Dubai World Cup in Florida.

“It’s hard to get him west of the Mississippi,” Poole said with a laugh. In fact, Poole said he himself hadn’t traveled outside of the United States in 30 years. When he learned he was accompanying Anak Nakal to Dubai, he needed to obtain a passport on an expedited basis.

Anak Nakal’s owner, Kassem Masri of Four Roses Thoroughbreds, already experienced magic in the desert last year when his Diamond Stripes won the Godolphin Mile at last year’s Dubai World Cup meeting.

Also on the track was Well Armed, third in his Dubai World Cup attempt last year, who to the satisfaction of trainer Eoin Harty and jockey Aaron Gryder, had his final work for the Dubai World Cup on Monday.

Harty said he clocked Well Armed working a half-mile (800 meters) in :49.00 seconds. He looked keen as he commenced the work into a stiff head wind with Gryder, who customarily works the horse, aboard.

“I got what I expected,” Harty, who watched the work from the grandstand, said following the work. “There was a pretty strong head wind.”

To the observers who have dubbed Well Armed a synthetic specialist because his most important wins have come over artificial surfaces in California, Harty had this to say: “He has a win and a third in (four) outs at (Nad al Sheba); that’s pretty good,” Harty said. “I think he is a top runner on the dirt.”

Harty remarked that Well Armed, who is owned by WinStar Farm, feels at home in Dubai. “He enjoys his environment here,” Harty said. “He thrives over here.”

Japan’s hopeful Casino Drive, had a gentle outing over the dirt course under his exercise rider Naruhito Kasai.

“Our horse has been in good condition since he arrived in Dubai.” said Nobutaka Tada,the racing manager for trainer Kazuo Fujisawa. “He’s eating very well, and there are no concerns about him so far. He’s eating very well, and there are no concerns about him so far.”

Arson Squad squad, another American contender, under assistant trainer Michelle Nevin put the six-year-old gelding through what she said was a five-furlong drill “just to open up his lungs.” The son of Brahms was given an official time of :54.10 for 800 meters.

“He went very easily and he was very happy with himself,” Nevin reported.

Jim Cornes of the Dubai Racing Club clocked Arson Squad’s last 400 meters in :26.21, which Nevin said was just what she and trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. had been looking for with the workout.

South African trainer Neil Bruss, who has been making waves in his first season in Saudi Arabia, is doubly represented by Muller and Paris Perfect, first and second in the King’s Cup, the country’s most prestigious race.

“Both had a canter around the main track and they’ll have a faster bit of work tomorrow and we’ll get them used to going around the final turn,” said Bruss, who will be having his first runners in the UAE.

“They arrived on Saturday, and it was only three hours stable to stable, which was fantastic. I couldn’t be happier.”

Snaafy, hailing from the in-from Musabah Al Muhairi stable, which notched a treble at Jebel Ali on Friday, was also seen on the track early this morning.

The five-year-old enters the world’s richest race on the back of a hat-trick of wins at the Dubai International Racing Carnival, including victory in the Burj Nahaar last up on Super Thursday.

John Nicholls, assistant to Al Muhairi, said: “He had a look round early this morning and is as well as he’s ever been. He’ll work on Wednesday, but so far so good.”

Dubai Sheema Classic hope Spanish Moon, whom Sir Michael Stoute will saddle for the $5m Dubai Sheema Classic on Saturday, was declared “A1” by John Cork, representing the nine-times champion trainer.

Cork, a veteran traveller at Dubai World Cups, Breeders Cups and Japan Cups, said: ”We were lucky in that we had a direct flight from Heathrow, and we arrived early Sunday morning.

“Spanish Moon took the journey really well, and he has settled down nicely in the barn area, and it is a case of so far, so good.”

Champion jockey Ryan Moore rides Spanish Moon on Saturday, and he predicted that the colt “had a Group 1 in him” after he had steered him to victory in a Listed race on the Polytrack at Kempton in November.

Kings Gambit is one of the outsiders for the Dubai Sheema Classic, but his trainer Herman Brown knows what it’s like to pull off a shock, having saddled Jay Peg to win the Dubai Duty Free last year.

His representative in the Nakheel-sponsored 2400m contest was fifth in the Dubai City of Gold last time and is well-regarded by his trainer.

“Kings Gambit was on the new training track at Meydan, which is very impressive,” he said. “He cantered once around slowly and we’re really happy with him.

“He’s a horse we’ve always really liked and there’ll be more to come from him, he’s not without a chance.”

With racing manager Patrick Lawley-Wakelin looking on, Marsh Side had a sharp gallop over Nad al Sheba’s turf course. Lawley-Wakelin said Marsh Side “stretched his legs” through the stretch of his Monday gallop. The 6-year-old traveled down the middle of the turf course and was very keen as he passed the grandstand.

Marsh Side’s connections suffered a disappointment last November when the Neil Drysdale-trained horse developed a fever and was scratched from the Japan Cup after traveling to Tokyo from his California home base.

“It was tremendously disappointing because we thought, depending upon how the race unfolded, he would run well,” Lawley-Wakelin said.

Red Rocks, the six-year-old son of Galileo, is being ovrsen by Trish McLaughlin, as trainer Mark Hennig is not due in Dubai until later in the week.

Hennig directed that Red Rocks gallop just over 2000m and McLaughlin had one simple word for her assessment of the exercise: “Great,” she said. “He’s training really great.”

Owner J Paul Reddam’s racing manager, Jaime McCalmont, was on hand to see Red Rocks and “he was very pleased with the way he looked,” McLaughlin said.

Hennig had pondered sending Red Rocks—who won the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Turf and defeated last year’s Dubai World Cup winner Curlin in the Man o’ War Stakes on grass at Belmont Park—for a short workout this week but has opted to just gallop the horse up to the Dubai Sheema Classic, McLaughlin said.

Marsh Side who has been ridden by 12 different riders thus far in his 19-race career will be ridden for the first time by Edgar Prado in the Dubai Sheema Classic.

Last year’s winner of the 1,777m Dubai Duty Free showpiece, Jay Peg (PICTURED), was seen on the Tapeta surface at the new Meydan training track this morning, in company with stablemate Kings Gambit.

“He cantered once around slowly and he’s ready to peak for Saturday now. Like last year, he takes a while to reach his best.

“He’s had two runs now this year and his last run, when second on Super Thursday, showed us he was right where we wanted him to be.”

On the main track, the 2007 Japanese Derby winner, the filly Vodka, put in no more than a routine canter over the dirt course under the exercise rider Norihiro Kishimoto.

The racing manager for “Team Vodka”, Keita Tanaka commented, “She is in very good form. Her trainer has just arrived this morning, and we are all set for her breeze tomorrow morning.”

Australia's Dubai Duty Free contender Niconero also made an appearance on the main track. The seven-year-old, rising eight by southern hemisphere time, has competed at the top level - in Group 1 races - on no fewer than 31 occasions and boasts a better than 50 per cent first four finishing record with five wins, five seconds, two thirds and four fourths.

Of his attempt at last year’s Dubai Duty Free, in which he placed 11th his trainer David Hays said: “He's a social animal and he just didn't like being stabled by himself here last year. He fretted the whole time. This year it will hopefully be different as he has the company of the other Australian runner [Tuesday Joy].”

Hyperbaric, under exercise rider Tony Romero, galloped on the main track as he continues his preparations for the Dubai Duty Free.

Monday was the first gallop for Hyperbaric, who jogged the first two days he visited the track at Nad al Sheba after arriving here from California on March 19.

Trainer Julio Canani is expected to arrive in Dubai Monday evening. The $5 million Dubai Duty Free marks Hyperbaric first start since he became a Grade 1 winner in the Citation at Hollywood Park last November. Tyler Baze, aboard in the Citation, has the mount in the Dubai Duty Free.

The striking gray Kip Deville owned by IEAH Stables and partners, whose silks were carried to victory in last year’s Dubai Golden Shaheen by Benny the Bull, galloped around Nad al Sheba with his typical enthusiasm under assistant trainer Michelle Nevin.

Plans call for the six-year-old son of Kipling to breeze on Tuesday as a “blowout” prior to the 1,777-meter Dubai Duty Duty Free, Nevin said.

Winner of the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on February 1 in his only start of 2009 to date, Kip Deville turned in three sharp workouts prior to leaving the United States, with the most recent a six-furlong move in 1:14.80 on March 17 at Gulfstream Park.

The 2007 and 2008 American champion (as juvenile filly and female sprinter, respectively) and Dubai Golden Shaheen runner Indian Blessing, delighted her connections with a half-mile (approximately 800 meters) workout on Monday in :47.80, according to the time clocked by assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes.

Exercise rider Janell Gruss kept the four-year-old daughter of Indian Charlie close to the rail and described the work from her perspective as “perfect.”

“I couldn’t ask for anything else,” Gruss said. “She just scoots over this surface. She did that super easy and she galloped out strong.”

The Dubai Racing Club reported that Indian Blessing travelled through 600 meters in :33.94, with her final 400 meters in a brisk :22.67.

Barnes observed the workout from a perch in the Maktoum Grandstand. As he did on Sunday, when Indian Blessing galloped, Barnes delivered a live account of the filly’s every movement to two-time Dubai World Cup-winning trainer Bob Baffert, who is in Southern California, via mobile phone.

“He was very pleased,” Barnes said. “She goes over this surface really well; she just loves the dirt, so that’s a plus for her. Although she’s raced well over the synthetic tracks, the dirt is a better surface for her. She just looks more comfortable.”

Indian Blessing won the La Brea Stakes (Gr.1) on Santa Anita Park’s synthetic track in her most recent start on December 27 and also won the 2008 Santa Ynez Stakes (Gr.2) at that track and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. Otherwise, she has raced on dirt, winning seven of nine races on that surface. Overall, she has won nine of 12 starts and has earned US$2,437,200.

Although Indian Blessing has never run a straightaway 1,200 meters such as she will do in the Dubai Golden Shaheen, Barnes said, “It shouldn’t bother her,” adding that the field could go more quickly as some jockeys might not be able to gage the pace without any turns. Speed is Indian Blessing’s forte as she has been on the lead by the half-mile mark in most of her races, with the fractional time in her last five starts never slower than :45.33.

Edgar Prado, who won last year’s Dubai Golden Shaheen aboard Benny the Bull and the Godolphin Mile on Diamond Stripes, is set to pilot Indian Blessing for the first time, Barnes said. John Velazquez, who rode 2005 Dubai World Cup winner Roses in May and who has been riding Indian Blessing, is staying in America to ride Kentucky Derby candidate Quality Road in the Florida Derby.

Black Seventeen galloped today under exercise rider Colleen Hartford, who said the horse is scheduled to breeze Tuesday at Nad Al Sheba for his start in the US$2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen.

Black Seventeen’s trainer and co-owner, Brian Koriner, was scheduled to arrive in Dubai Monday night. Hartford said Black Seventeen, who is based at Santa Anita Park, has acclimated well to his new surroundings.

“He’s doing great; he settled in right away,” Hartford said.

A son of Is It True, Black Seventeen became a Grade 1 winner last year in the Vosburgh at Belmont Park. The Dubai Golden Shaheen marks Black Seventeen’s first start on foreign soil.

Machismo was also seen on the track. Under exercise rider Dana Barnes, who is looking after the gelding until trainer John Sadler’s assistant arrives from California. Barnes, who is married to Jim Barnes, trainer Bob Baffert’s assistant, said Machismo is “very happy; he’s good to go.”

Sadler won the 2004 Dubai Golden Shaheen with long-shot Our New Recruit. Sadler, who is based at Santa Anita, is not expected to make the trip to Dubai.

Rod Simpson was at Nad Al Sheba to watch his sprint hope Balthazaar’s Gift on the main track, and was upbeat about his horse’s chances. Balthazaaar’s Gift has had three starts this year all on the turf at Nad Al Sheba, the last of which being his win in the Blackberry Handicap on February 20th but the switch to the dirt surface for Saturday’s race holds no fears for the ebullient Simpson.

“He works on the dirt every day at home, we don’t have any turf back there. He did a nice piece of work this morning, and he loved it, he was bouncing of the track. He can win it!”

Simpson has had a great season, and goes into Sunday with two live chances. In addition to his sprint hope he saddles Fryvolous in the Dubai Kahayla Classic for pure bred Arabians, and harbours dreams of a big night double.

“These races are not easy, and an awful lot can go wrong, you can miss the break, you need luck in running, but I tell you, I wouldn’t want to swop my pair for anything,” was his bold assessment.

Change Alley, a Carnival winner in February, enjoyed a canter on the main track this morning ahead of his assignment in the Dubai Golden Shaheen, sponsored by Gulf News.

The four-year-old, who was last seen finishing fifth in the Mahab Al Shimaal, carries the hopes of trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe, who with 22 winners on the board is enjoying his best ever season in the UAE.

"He has come out of his last race well and we’re pleased with him,” he said. “We know we’re taking on the best in the world, but in a sprint anything can happen, so we’re hoping for a good run.”

Herman Brown is double-handed in the UAE Derby, sponsored by Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group, with Balcarce Nov and Redding Colliery.

The latter appears to have the better chance, based on his third to Desert Party in the UAE 2,000 Guineas, while Balcarce Nov was fourth in the Meydan Classic on turf on Super Thursday.

The South African said: “Both were out on the main track today and they did a full circuit, but nothing serious. They’ll have one serious piece of work this week, but they’re in great form, and I think they have each-way chances on Saturday.”

Satish Seemar, trainer of Godolphin Mile contender Tiz Now Tiz Then was spotted Nad Al Sheba this morning.

“That was his last proper piece of work and he did it really well, so I’m very happy with him. The big question now is the rain that is coming and how it will affect the track.”

Informed, although he has not yet won a stakes race in his career, in the five-year-old son of Tiznow has drawn his share of attention at Nad al Sheba since going to the track for the first time on Saturday.

He has made something of a spectacle of himself as he has leapt away from assistant trainer Leandro Mora before beginning morning exercise and has tried to run off with exercise rider Tony Romero. But on Monday, Informed was more tractable.

“He was much better today,” Romero said. “He’s always been (hard to handle) but he’s been doing pretty good since he’s been here and today he was the best so far.”

Informed galloped about 2000m on Monday. Mora said the horse seems to be thriving in Dubai and he predicted that Informed could turn in a strong performance on Saturday, when trainer and co-owner Doug O’Neill will be present after his scheduled arrival in Dubai on Tuesday.

“I’m very, very optimistic that we have a good chance in the race,” Mora said, comparing Informed’s adaptation to his environs at Nad al Sheba with the way Spring At Last handled the transition. Spring At Last wound up winning the 2007 Godolphin Mile.

Jockey Fernando Jara, riding the Doug Watson-trained Green Coast said of his charge: “He worked this morning and he went well. He looks and is doing fantastic so we’re hopeful”.

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