Eye In Dubai
By Jim Cornes
Meydan race trip notes from February 10
Race 6, UAE 2000 Guineas (G3)
ZANZAMAR (SAF)—Finished second following a very troubled trip in which he was blocked and hampered throughout the stretch. It should be noted (as it was not in the stewards’ report) that when Zanzamar found room inside to advance, he was inadvertently struck in the face by the whip of the rider of SONORAN SANDS (IRE). Zanzamar recovered to produce a determined run under high weight of 130 pounds to fall only a length short of winner SPLASH POINT (USA) at the wire. This was an impressive run in defeat for a very talented Southern Hemisphere-bred three-year-old who can be expected to be a tough contender in the $2-million UAE Derby (G2) on March 26.
Meydan main turf track, February 9
J J THE JET PLANE (SAF)—The six-time Group I winner and three-time South African champion trained by Michael “Lucky” Houdalakis flashed dazzling speed at daybreak, working five furlongs on the straight turf course. With the markers set at 26 meters, “J J” went straight along the outside rail after backing up into the turf chute. With a short run up to the 1,000-meter marker chosen by the rider, he blazed the half-mile in :45.78 under restraint. His last two furlongs were in :11.33 and :11.86 for a five-furlong time of :57.64. Since arriving in December following his impressive win over super sprinters ROCKET MAN (AUS) and SACRED KINGDOM (AUS) in the Hong Kong Sprint (G1), this 7-year-old gelding has shown an increased level of fitness each week. He has been entered in a $150,000 handicap going six furlongs on the all-weather surface on the February 17 Dubai International Racing Carnival program. Although he will be the highweight at 132 pounds, giving his dozen rivals from 14 to 20 pounds, I believe a happy and fit “J J” will be ready to run.
Meydan turf training track, February 12
HEARTS OF FIRE (GB)—Now Qatar-based, this 4-year-old colt, a group I winner in Italy at two and third in last year’s St. James’s Palace Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot, worked six furlongs under jockey Ryan Moore for his first breeze in Dubai. With the markers/dogs set at 15 meters, Hearts of Fire began his gallop around the 7 ½-furlong course at an easy pace but increased the tempo with each furlong. After starting on the turn, he finished the move in 1:12. His run through the stretch was impressive; with a quick response to Moore’s hands, he quickened while still under restraint to complete his final quarter in :25.46 (:12.98 and :12.48). Always looking like a horse wanting to do more, this son of two-time Godolphin Mile (G2) winner Firebreak should be ready for a solid effort in the $250,000 Al Fahidi Fort (G2) at 1,600 meters turf (about one mile) on February 17. Previously owned by Pat Eddery Racing and trained by retired European champion jockey Eddery, Hearts of Fire is now trained by Ibrahim Al Malki for Hassan Ali Abdulmalik.
Meydan main turf course, February 14
FAREER (GB)—Worked sharply for the second consecutive time while preparing for a $150,000 handicap on February18; with jockey Richard Hills in the saddle, he started slowly, one mile out, and increased his pace to finish the last four furlongs in :46.32, with his final eighths in :12.14 and :11.68. His recent works have been on turf, but he has been entered on the Tapeta surface at 1,600 meters. If he is able to avoid traffic trouble, I expect a top effort from this five-year-old Bahamian Bounty gelding at a price with value.
BUSHMAN (GB)— In his final prep for the Al Fahidi Fort (G2), English group III winner Bushman completed a fast-paced one-mile gallop with assistant trainer Jennie Simcock, wife of trainer David Simcock, in the irons. In hand early, the seven-year-old Maria’s Mon gelding was asked to extend himself slightly but only after entering the stretch, and he sprinted the final two furlongs in :22.70 (:11.47 and :11.23). A strong but controlled gallop out after the wire helps put this horse on a sharp edge for his upcoming effort in a key prep for the $5-million Dubai Duty Free (G1).
International Stables Quarantine
OASIS DANCER (GB)—This 4-year-old Oasis Dream gelding has really blossomed in the last ten days for trainer Ralph Beckett. He has shown an increased energy level in his morning track work, stable yard walks and afternoon swimming and has developed physically since his arrival in Dubai in early January. What has impressed me about this horse is that he now seems mentally eager to give his best effort as well as physically conditioned. Entered for a 1,600-meter handicap on the all-weather track on February 18, which would be his second start at Meydan following an unplaced effort on January 27, he is a horse to watch closely.