By Pat Cummings
For Saturday, March 2
Note: two of Godolphin’s riders, Carnival leader Silvestre De Sousa and Ahmad Ajtebi, are serving suspensions which include the races at Meydan on March 2.
Race 1 - $175,000 Energia Elegante Handicap (Rated 100+), 1,200 meters (about 6 furlongs) – Turf (9:50 a.m. EST)
Another in what has been a season of tough straight grass sprints gets the day going. #2 KAVANAGH surely improved significantly in his third-up effort, as the Mike de Kock stable runners have been doing so far this meet, just missing in a solid Al Shindagha Sprint (UAE-III). Now he is back on the grass and with the straight sprint, you expect he’ll go forward again. We do find it a bit frustrating, however, that he is back on grass, where his worst performance of the season came. Could this just be some light work before he goes in the Mahab Al Shimaal (UAE-III) on the Super Saturday card?
#1 TAMAATHUL has been incredibly consistent in his 2012-’13 starts, including a win over this course and distance, and frankly, this type of consistency in all these sprint races is tough to come by. Provided he has held his form, he’s a good chance to stay on for the top prize.
We’ve gone to the well too often with #7 INVINCIBLE ASH, which means she will likely run her best race of the season. Perhaps she does her best running over the longer trip, but she just seems a stubborn old gal who picks and chooses her spots. #12 KANAF is an intriguing longshot proposition. He ran on well in this race a year ago under slightly different preparation. As always, these races just feel completely wide open.
1st - #1 TAMAATHUL, 2nd - #2 KAVANAGH, 3rd - #12 KANAF
Race 2 - $175,000 Linton Handicap (Rated 100+), 1,400 meters (about 7 furlongs) – All-Weather (10:25 a.m. EST)
There just does not seem to be much early speed in this race, and #2 FIREBEAM is likely to go forward. In need of the race to open the Carnival, he has been off since and it seems slightly disconcerting, but given the break and his dull performance, perhaps things just weren’t at 100%. Firebeam reminds us of Van Ellis, who tried to do all the running for Godolphin and was caught in the final strides by #1 REROUTED. Van Ellis was a lone leader in that race, and Firebeam seems likely to go forward with little other confirmed speed.
#3 FREE WHEELING proved he was more than competent on the all-weather and just a slight move forward puts him in the frame again and a major win candidate. He suffers the same problem as Rerouted in that he will need some degree of speed to do his best running; again, that should come from Firebeam, whose tactical advantage makes him the pick.
1st - #2 FIREBEAM, 2nd - #1 REROUTED, 3rd - #3 FREE WHEELING
Race 3 - $200,000 Nad Al Sheba Trophy (UAE-III), 2,810 meters (about 1 3/4 miles) – Turf (11 a.m. EST)
This is the final local prep for the Dubai Gold Cup (UAE-III) on the Dubai World Cup card and we get the return of the well-traveled #11 JAKKALBERRY, third in the Melbourne Cup (Aus-I), and the winner of the inaugural running of the American St. Leger at Arlington Park. #6 ROYAL DIAMOND, an Irish St. Leger (Ire-I) winner runs, as does Goodwood Cup (Eng-II) winner #12 SADDLER’S ROCK and group II placed #3 TENENBAUM.
#1 STAR EMPIRE, #7 AHZEEMAH, and #4 CERTERACH, separated by less than a length in a prep for this event, all return and make for a cracker of a race. This race is seen split in two main camps: the handicap regulars who have been in Dubai all season and the new shooters who come in with classier credentials. The plodding nature of the performances from Star Empire, Ahzeemah, and Certerach just lead us to believe that going elsewhere is within reason, even if this is a prep race for World Cup night.
If a horse like Bob Le Beau or In The Spotlight were here, we’d expect a stronger early gallop, but both go elsewhere this weekend. Royal Diamond should get the best trip up front and has shown a specific affinity for this distance. The new shooters seem a cut above the Carnival regulars, and we tip it that way.
1st - #6 ROYAL DIAMOND, 2nd - #3 TENENBAUM, 3rd - #11 JAKKALBERRY
Race 4 - $150,000 Gloria De Campeao Handicap (Rated 95+), 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) – All-Weather (11:35 a.m. EST)
The Trakus data comes out in full force for this event, named for the 2010 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) winner. #4 PLANTAGENET has had some gaudy data in the past, but it’s particularly appropriate in this race. Last time out, Plantagenet covered 13 meters more than winner #2 CON ARTIST and he stayed on well. Thirteen meters equates to an extra five lengths, and Plantagenet was beaten by less than four lengths.
On Saturday, Con Artist, who had the perfect rail-riding trip, is drawn out in gate 12. Plantagenet is a winner over course and distance against slightly easier company last season. He is worth the chance in this race with the almost guaranteed better trip.
#1 DADDY LONG LEGS is likely to improve significantly for his first-up run and gets more ground, but it’s really questionable as whether that will be enough. #9 JAWHAR has steadily improved over the course of the season and has never been off turf, which is why he is actually intriguing in this spot. Paul Hanagan aboard, this is the lightest impost this gelding by Halling has been saddled with in recent times.
How much focus will #3 OUT OF BOUNDS get? We seriously question his interest in going 2,000 meters, but he is a pace presence which could help our top pick get a better run into the race.
1st - #4 PLANTAGENET, 2nd - #1 DADDY LONG LEGS, 3rd - #9 JAWHAR
Race 5 - $250,000 Zabeel Mile (UAE-II), 1,600 meters (about 1 mile) – Turf (12:10 p.m. EST)
Off since May 2012 and found to be infertile at stud, #1 MUSIR ran a cracker last week when fourth to stable companion Mushreq. This race leaves much to be desired from a quality standpoint and a typical improvement from a Mike de Kock trainee second-up puts him over the top.
The question to be reconciled is how good #3 TRADE STORM might be. He exploded last time, but did it against middling handicap company. Trainer David Simcock made it clear that Trade Storm was in need of his first race and would come on for it, and he did it so easily that you can’t help but think he’s a vastly improving horse; that opinion, however, seems short-sighted. This is his 21st career start, so you would be inclined to think the son of Trade Fair is fairly exposed. It’s tough to imagine him moving forward to the degree we are likely to see from Musir.
#2 FULBRIGHT gets a shout given his solid run in the Firebreak Stakes (UAE-III) two weeks ago. While his runs on the all-weather track have been credible, we think they prove him being in top form more than anything. His success, however, has come on the grass as he holds a gaudy 8-for-20 mark, including that narrow win over Red Jazz in the Dubai Challenge Stakes (Eng-II). #6 ROYAL RIDGE is really a question mark against better company. His win over Producer could get franked on Thursday, but he was always a cut below in South Africa. While he is clearly moving in the right direction in Dubai, and this isn’t the toughest group II you will see in the UAE, he just can’t be supported as much as his stablemate.
1st - #1 MUSIR, 2nd - #4 FULBRIGHT, 3rd - #3 TRADE STORM
Race 6 - $150,000 Natagora Handicap (Rated 100+), 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) – Turf (12:45 p.m. EST)
On pure recent form alone, #1 ROYAL EMPIRE lays over this field and will probably be the shortest-priced favorite of the day. Kassiano, whom he defeated and was defeated by earlier in the Carnival, is our best bet of the day on Thursday and could provide added insight. The bottom line is that given the local form over 2,000 meters on grass, he’s the best horse right now.
#2 STARBOARD should improve from that last run when handily defeated after he set the pace. He normally runs forward and that is no surprise, but he was a bit keen and should progress well, potentially even into a win. This distance on the grass is his game and if he’s back to his best, he’s the very clear main contender to the top choice. #10 BURANO had a bum race last time after a very solid effort against Masteroftherolls to start the Carnival. #7 DORMELLO was a longshot placer when third Feb. 14 against two-time winner Anatolian and has had success over a longer trip, but the drop-back to 2,000 makes us believe he won’t have the same kick, even though Starboard is a likely strong pace presence.
1st - #1 ROYAL EMPIRE, 2nd - #2 STARBOARD, 3rd - #10 BURANO