Gaff is looking to increase his win streak from three to four with a win in Saturday's $2-million Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse.
Gaff will be joined in the starting gate by fellow American runners Captain Squire, Jet West, Proud Tower Too, and Thor's Echo.
Owned by Bill Heiligbrodt's Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, Gaff enters the six-furlong sprint on the straight off a neck win in the Mr. Prospector Handicap (gr. III) in his only start of the year. Gaff set a new track record at Gulfstream Park in winning the Mr. Prospector, getting the distance in 1:08.50
After making one start in the United States and then being transferred to Ireland, the 4-year-old son of Maria's Mon
made his North American debut last September at Belmont, finishing third in an allowance race. After that he clicked off two consecutive allowance scores for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Gaff breezed a half-mile out of a chute and down the Nad Al Sheba stretch which duplicates the path he will take in the straightaway 1,2000-meter run (six furlongs) in the Gold Shaheen. An official time for the breeze was not given due to a thick covering of early-morning fog but clockers estimated he traveled the distance between :46-:47 under Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr.
"Angel loved how he went," said Asmussen assistant Scott Blasi, who is overseeing the training duties in Asmussen's absence. "And he's been on enough good ones to know."
Blasi called Asmussen after the work. The leading trainer opted to skip the World Cup to tend to 2-year-olds and to also oversee the training of Triple Crown contenders Private Vow and Doctor Dechard.
Bred in Kentucky by Earle Mack, Gaff was produced from the Tunerup mare, Ionlyhaveeyesforyou. He originally was purchased by Bloodstock Services for $7,000 at the 2002 Keeneland November mixed sale from the consignment of Waterwild Farm, agent. The Heiligbrodt's purchased him for $100,000 at the 2003 Keeneland September yearling sale from the consignment of Woods Edge Farm, agent.
Gaff spent part of his 2- and 3-year-old seasons racing in Ireland for the partnership of Heiligbrodt and Michael Smurfit under the care of Irish trainer Dermot Weld. While on the turf, he won a stakes and finished third in the group III Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial.
The Heiligbrodt family arrived in Dubai March 21 and were on hand for the post position draw March 22.
Gaff will break from post nine Saturday under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan.
The field for the $2-million Golden Shaheen (UAE-I):
1-- Perfectly Ready (Ted Durcan)
2-- Proud Tower Too (David Cohen)
3--Raging Creek (Johnny Murtagh)
4-- Tropical Star (Royston Ffrench)
5-- Heart Alone (Kerrin McEvoy)
6-- Conroy (Frankie Dettori)
7-- Howick Falls (T. O'Shea)
8--Agnes Jedi (H. Yoshihara)
9-- Gaff (Bridgmohan)
10-- Jet West (Garret Gomez)
11-- Thajja (Richard Hills)
12-- Thor's Echo (Corey Nakatani)
13--Captain Squire (Victor Espinoza)
14--The Lord (P. Falero)
15-- Azul Da Guanabara (A. Domingos)