Duel in Dubai

As a staunch supporter of Street Cry all year, we have to admit we don't know what to make of the son of Machiavellian after he failed once again to get the upper hand in a street fight. He had the UAE Derby won after grabbing a good three-quarters of a length lead over his stablemate Express Tour, who was making his first start of the year. But, even equipped with blinkers for the first time, he lost his focus and handed it away. Perhaps that's not fair to Express Tour, who was reported to be something very special by his previous connections. The son of Tour d'Or, with the exception of his tail-male line, has a very obscure pedigree with no chef-de-race influences. But he proved at Calder last year that he can run away and hide from his opponents and also can slug it out if he has to, as he did against Outofthebox in the final leg of the Florida Stallion Series.

Assistant trainer Tom Albertrani wasn't surprised at the outcome, and in fact told jockey David Flores before the race that Express Tour will give Street Cry a run for his money, because of how well he'd been training.

But getting back to Street Cry, in his defense he did close a ton of ground over a track that was favoring speed and stalkers, and he was bottled up in traffic turning for home. He also had to make a long, sustained run and was hard-ridden for a half-mile. So, he simply may have just gotten tired being under pressure for so long. And the final time was a sharp 1:47. He also proved once again that he's as consistent a 3-year-old as there is on the Derby trail. He's always right there, whether it's at Del Mar, Santa Anita, Churchill Downs or Nad al Sheba. Watching his races in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the UAE Derby, it appears as if he may be more of a grinder type who needs to be within striking range and hit the front earlier, before the others begin their run. This way, he can use all that European distance blood to keep going and try to outdistance his opponents. One thing about many horses who tend to hang, when they have the lead turning for home, they're tough to catch. It's just passing horses and putting them away that they have difficulty with.

While Street Cry has completed his Derby preparation, Express Tour is in a sticky situation. Because of the hoof and mouth disease outbreak, it is possible that the Dubai horses will have to depart for the States earlier than planned. The Godolphin braintrust is awaiting word from the USDA on when they have to leave. They should know in the next few days. There is a 1 1/8-mile race in Dubai on April 14 that Express Tour likely will run in, but if he is forced to miss it, he'll have to go into the Derby off only one start.

Rebel with a cause

We'll just have to wait until the Arkansas Derby to see how good the Oaklawn-based horses are, but with the top three local horses – Crafty Shaw, Arctic Boy, and Son of Rocket -- running 1,2,4 in the Rebel, they must be treated with respect. Crafty Shaw is an improving son of Crafty Prospector who got a dream trip in the Rebel, having the rail all to himself the entire race. He seemed to be going nowhere in the stretch after forcing the pace, but when jockey Joe Johnson switched to his left whip, Crafty Shaw gave a final spurt that carried him to a three-quarter of a length victory. Runner-up Arctic Boy probably was the best horse in the race, going wide the whole way and making a long sustained run on the far outside, never seeing the winner.

Although Percy Hope won the Rushaway Stakes, we were particularly impressed with runner-up X Country, who went 6-wide on both turns and was hard-ridden a long way out. He didn't switch leads until inside the sixteenth pole, but once he did, he found another gear and cutting into the winner's lead at the wire.

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