Starlight Partners’ Take the Points, whose third career grade I victory last month was erased through a stewards’ disqualification, shoots for his next big score in the record $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I).
“Our horse is in his best form ever and he deserves a chance to compete against the best horses in the world,” said Donald Lucarelli, a partner in the Starlight venture.
“This horse is a different horse than he was as a three-year-old,” said Starlight managing partner Jack Wolf. “(Trainer) Todd Pletcher and his team have really brought him around; he has matured and grown up into a real man of a horse. Even watching him train, you can see that he is much more into it than he was in the past.”
A 4-year-old by Even the Score , Take the Points becomes the fourth American-based horse to be listed as a likely starter in the World Cup, which will be run over the Tapeta synthetic track at Meydan Racecourse as part of a $26 million program of seven international Thoroughbred races on March 27. The other American hopefuls for the World Cup so far are 2009 champion older male and turf male Gio Ponti , Pacific Classic (gr. I) winner Richard's Kid and Breeders’ Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) winner Life Is Sweet.
Regular rider Edgar Prado is set to be back aboard Take the Points in Dubai, Wolf said.
Purchased for $160,000 at the 2007 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky select yearling sale, Take the Points won last year’s Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) on the turf at Arlington Park and the Jamaica Handicap (gr. IT) on the grass at Belmont Park. Those victories came after he finished 13th in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) won by Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra.
The switch from dirt to turf clearly suited Take the Points. The gray colt has run twice on Santa Anita Park’s synthetic surface without a win, finishing second in last year’s Sham Stakes (gr. III) and fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). Wolf said he is not concerned about Dubai’s new Tapeta track.
Former trainer Michael Dickinson, who invented Tapeta and installed the track at Meydan, advised Wolf that “it is a very fair surface,” over which a number of turf specialists have been performing well during the Dubai International Racing Carnival.
Other than his Preakness run, Take the Points ran the only disappointing race of his career in the Hollywood Derby (gr. I), finishing seventh over what Wolf said was the firmest turf course the colt had encountered. But after about two months off, Take the Points produced what Wolf called the best race of his career in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT) over 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 6, crossing the finish line a length in front of multiple grade I winner Court Vision .
Track stewards, however, ruled that Take the Points impeded Yate's Black Cat in the stretch run and placed him fifth.
“He pressed the pace that day and then went on with it,” Lucarelli said. “Todd (Pletcher) really became a believer in him then. He said this horse is just coming into his own. And since then, he’s kept his weight and he’s never looked better.”
The Starlight banner has been carried in Dubai previously. Multiple grade I winner Harlan's Holiday finished second to Moon Ballad in the 2003 Dubai World Cup, earning $1.2 million for that effort.