In one of several changes involving horses slated to run on the March 27 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) program, Starlight Partners’ dual grade I winner Take the Points has been given a new target, the $5-million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) on the Meydan Racecourse turf.
Originally set to compete in the record $10-million Dubai World Cup at 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) on the synthetic Tapeta track, Take the Points was reassigned to the 1,800-meter (about 1 1/8 miles) Dubai Duty Free after his connections assessed the potential fields and considered the surfaces involved.
“He’s run all his best races on the turf,” noted Ginny DePasquale, an assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher who traveled with Take the Points while making her fourth journey to Dubai with Pletcher runners. “And he should really like this turf course. Everything about the (Duty Free) is right down his alley.”
Although Take the Points has run on a synthetic track in the past, finishing second and fourth, respectively, in last year’s Sham Stakes (gr. III) and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park, the 4-year-old colt by Even the Score won the Secretariat Stakes (gr. I) at Arlington Park and Jamaica Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park over grass. The Jamaica was at 1 1/8 miles and the Secretariat was at 1 1/4 miles.
Winner of four of 13 career starts and $623,590, Take the Points’ average winning distance is about 1 1/8 miles.
“Why take a chance on Tapeta and an extra eighth of a mile in the World Cup?” said Jack Wolf, managing partner of Starlight. “The distance and the surface (of the Dubai Duty Free) are his specialty.”
Pletcher, who saddled Harlan's Holiday for Starlight when the colt earned $1-million by finishing second in the 2003 Dubai World Cup, suggested the Duty Free, and Wolf and partners Donald Lucarelli and Mike Masters agreed with the idea, even though the purse was half of that offered by the World Cup. Nonetheless, the Dubai Duty Free ranks among the top five turf races in the world by purse value.
Take the Points took his first tour of Meydan the morning of March 20 after clearing quarantine following the long journey to Dubai from Florida. DePasquale reported he handled the trip very well and was full of energy. When he saw the huge grandstand lit up by the rising sun, he “acted like a 2-year-old,” she said. However, he soon calmed under exercise rider Manny Alicea and galloped professionally on the synthetic track.
DePasquale said Take the Points is tentatively set to school in the Meydan paddock the evening of 23 and will visit the starting gate sometime over the next several days.
In another major change, Saudi Arabian Prince Sultan Mohammed bin Saud Al Kabeer’s Chilean-bred Amor de Pobre has gained a spot in the 14-horse Dubai World Cup field following the move with Take the Points. A classic winner in his native land, Amor de Pobre had been set to run in the $5-million Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) at 2,410 meters (about 1 ½ miles) on grass.
Amor de Pobre, a 5-year-old gelding by Stuka, won the Crown Prince Cup (KSA-II) on dirt in January in Saudi Arabia and finished third that nation’s premier race, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup (King’s Cup, KSA-I), last month.
Additionally, Prince Sultan’s Deem has been switched from the Dubai Duty Free to the Dubai Sheema Classic. A 5-year-old mare by Dalakhani, Deem won the Meydan Balanchine (UAE-III) Feb. 25 and finished fourth in the Crown Prince Cup behind Amor de Pobre. Last year, Deem finished seventh in the Sheema Classic, 6 1/4 lengths behind winner Eastern Anthem.