In his first serious tour of Nad al Sheba racecourse, Blue Burner worked six furlongs on Monday morning under exercise rider Amin Azar, getting the distance in 1:14 while preparing for Saturday's $6 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1).
Fifth in the Grade I Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park behind Dubai World World Cup rival Harlan's Holiday on February 22, Blue Burner was purchased from owner-breeder George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Stable by the Fustok family's Buckram Oak Farm but will run in the colors of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.
"He worked pretty good. He finished strong," said Azar, who also is serving as trainer Bill Mott's assistant and is supervising Blue Burner in Dubai. Mott, who saddled Cigar to win the inaugural World Cup in 1996, will not make the trip from the United States to Dubai, Azar said.
A four-year-old by French Deputy, Blue Burner has won four of nine career starts and earned $338,300 but has never won a stakes race. However, he has raced in Grade 1 company in five of his last six starts, finishing second to Harlan's Holiday in last year's Florida Derby (gr. I) and third behind Booklet and Harlan's Holiday in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I).
Blue Burner was sidelined by a knee injury for the remainder of 2002 after finishing 11th in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). He returned to racing with a Gulfstream allowance victory on January 25.
Following the World Cup, Blue Burner will be transferred from Mott to Prince Abdullah's trainer, Kevin McAuliffe, who will send out Grade 3 winner Grundlefoot in the world's richest race. McAuliffe said Blue Burner will be shipped to Saudi Arabia to continue his racing career.
Other American-based horses who visited Nad al Sheba on Monday included:
* Cayoke (Fr), who breezed five furlongs in 1:00.77. Daniel Drouet, who is assisting trainer Julio Canani, said the Godolphin Mile contender cooled out well following the workout and appears to be improving.
* Byzantium (Brz), who worked a half-mile in :47.60 in advance of the UAE Derby (UAE-II), and Mr. John, who traveled the same distance in :49.60 while preparing for the Godolphin Mile. Both horses are trained by Elliott Walden, who has sent assistant Ryan Van Tilburg to Dubai to supervise their final preparations.
* Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) entry My Cousin Matt, who zipped a half-mile in :47.42, getting the last quarter-mile in :23.57.
* Xtra Heat, 2001 champion three-year-old filly, galloped prior to her second tilt at the Golden Shaheen, as did Grey Memo, who will attempt to defend his victory in last year's Godolphin Mile.