By Michele MacDonald
WinStar Farm's homebred Well Armed burst down the stretch at Nad al Sheba racecourse in Dubai Thursday to win his first start as a 3-year-old in a campaign that ultimately is aiming for the May 6 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
"He was real impressive. It was awesome," WinStar president Doug Cauthen said after watching a satellite television broadcast of the son of Tiznow
's romp in the Shadwell Farm Trophy over 1,400 meters on dirt.
WinStar, located near Versailles, Ky., is owned by Kenny Troutt and Bill Casner.
Well Armed defeated Godolphin's Testimony, a son of Yes It's True
who broke his maiden last year at Belmont Park by 3 1/2 lengths and stopped the clock in 1:24.57 on the fast track. Also in the 16-horse field were four Southern Hemisphere-bred runners who are about a half-year older but are allowed to race in 3-year-old events in Dubai under Emirates Racing Association rules.
Cauthen credited Well Armed's success to English-based trainer Clive Brittain, who saddled Bold Arrangement to a fast-closing runner-up effort to Ferdinand in the 1986 Kentucky Derby. WinStar decided to send Well Armed to England for racing last year after opting not to sell the colt at public auction due to some minor physical issues.
In eight starts there, Well Armed won at the Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles at Lingfield Nov. 26 and finished a close fourth in the Autumn Stakes (Eng-III) over a mile on the Salisbury turf.
Brittain, who has campaigned in Dubai before, suggested that the WinStar colt travel with him there this winter rather than return to America for traditional Derby preps.
"We've got to credit Clive 110% with saying this horse is a really, really, really good horse. He convinced us to take him to Dubai because we were contemplating bringing him to America to put him on the dirt," Cauthen said.
Brittain has picked out the $250,000 UAE Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-III) at 1,600 meters Feb. 10 at Nad al Sheba for Well Armed's next start, and if all goes well, the $2-million UAE Derby at 1,800 meters on the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) program March 25 prior to a return to the United States for the Kentucky Derby.
Cauthen said that Well Armed reminded him of Tiznow
, the only horse to win two runnings of the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), in his run down the stretch Thursday, and he believes the colt could have a bright future in the classics.
"He's already won going a mile and a quarter, so distance is no problem," he said.