Stage Set For World Cup; Street Cry in Derby Prep

Stage Set For World Cup; Street Cry in Derby Prep
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Godolphin Racing's Street Cry will prep for the Kentucky Derby in Saturday's UAE Derby that is part of the Dubai World Cup card.
Mike Pegram's Captain Steve and Godolphin's Best of the Bests, co-favorites at 7-4 for Saturday's Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) with British bookmaker William Hill, will break from the starting gate alongside each other in post-positions 11 and 10 respectively as a dozen international runners face the starter for the $6 million pot, richest in racing with $3.6 million earmarked for the winner.

France's Kingsalsa went to the sidelines after aggravating an old leg injury, but that still left six countries, including France, represented in the 1 1/4 mile dirt contest, first leg of the 2001 Emirates World Series. The Emirates Airline-sponsored series comprises a dozen races this year after the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) came on board recently.

Captain Steve's trainer, Bob Baffert, coaxed a short-head win from Silver Charm in the 1998 World Cup and likes the chances of his 4-year-old by Fly So Free, winner of the Donn Handicap (gr. I) last month, who will again have the services of Jerry Bailey.

"I worked him under the lights here Monday night and he went really well," Baffert said. "I didn't work Silver Charm under the lights but he's (Captain Steve) been known to jump shadows, so I didn't want to take any chances. He's pretty close to Silver Charm in ability, the Donn was a strong race, and I just feel this race could be his coming out party.

"Silver Charm got the mile and a-quarter easily but it might be stretching it a bit for this horse. That said, he's showing me all the right signs that he's going to run a big race, but you never know when you ship them all this way."

Best of the Bests' rider, Frankie Dettori, was in high spirits after the birth of his second child, Ella, on Monday although he admitted his mount "is not Dubai Millennium (Godolphin's six-length winner of the World Cup last year) and might never be."

Best of the Bests, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, became the top hope of Godolphin's three runners (Ekraar will race in Sheikh Hamdan's colors) with his 12-length romp in the second leg of the Maktoum Challenge at Nad Al Sheba, Feb 8, his first start on dirt. "He seems to have adapted to the dirt really well," Dettori said. "He was only a couple of lengths behind the best last season and he is stronger as a 4-year-old."

With the exception of his last race, Bobby Frankel-trained Aptitude, owned by Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms and to be ridden by Gary Stevens, has shown superb consistency throughout his nine starts. He is third favorite at 6-1 with Hill coming off an eighth-place finish in the Clark Handicap (gr. II).

Frankel earned last year's third-place check ($600,000) here with Public Purse, and was not distressed when Aptitude drew the four hole. "They'll all be going fast, it's that kind of race," he said. "But my horse has got a lot of speed so I figure Gary can settle him early in a forward position."

Frankel also runs Amerman Racing's Serenita in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-III) over six furlongs and the same owners' Lido Palace in the UAE Derby (UAE-III), but the nominal Derby favorite--there is no betting at Nad Al Sheba--would have to be Godolphin's Street Cry, third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and winner of the UAE Two Thousand Guineas early this month. The purse for the nine-furlong Derby has been quadrupled to $2 million this year.

Other competitive heats on the seven-race card (6 Thoroughbred, 1 Arabian) include the $2 million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-II) over an extended turf mile. Julio Canani fields the only U.S. runner in Terry Lanni and Bernie Schiappa's Ladies Din, but principal opposition for New Zealand superstar Sunline (beaten once in her last ten outings and Hill's 13-8 favorite) is expected to come from Hong Kong-based Fairy King Prawn and French trained Jim and Tonic, who has won his best races at Sha Tin.

Also on the undercard, Fantastic Light, who sewed up the Emirates World Series with victory in the final race (Hong Kong Cup, HK-I) last year, makes his seasonal reappearance for Godolphin in the $2 million Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-II) at 12 furlongs on turf. Daliapour, who bested him in the Coronation Cup (Eng-I) at Epsom last summer, is expected to give him the most to do in a race without U.S. representation.

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