A field of 11 fillies and mares, five of them stakes winners, are set to do battle in the nine-furlong Balanchine Stakes Sponsored by Emirates NBD (UAE-IIT) at Meydan Racecourse Feb. 18.
Aspectoflove will be looking to add another stakes win to her resume, having captured the Cape Verdi Stakes Sponsored by Bab Al Shams (UAE-IIT) over this turf course last month. The 5-year-old daughter of Danetime stubbornly held off Thai Haku and River Jetez in deep stretch to claim victory in that contest. Aspectoflove will once again face River Jetez, while Thai Haku will line up in the Al Fahidi Fort Sponsored by Commercial Bank of Dubai (UAE-IIT) on Thursday.
Saeed bin Suroor trains Aspectoflove for Godolphin. Frankie Dettori will be in the irons.
The second Godolphin runner in the field is Long Lashes, a 4-year-old filly from the first crop of Rock Hard Ten. Winner of three of eight lifetime starts, Long Lashes was purchased privately by Godolphin after she broke her maiden in the listed Ballygallon Stud Stakes in her first start at two. She promptly went on to capture the skybet.com Sweet Solera Stakes (Ire-III) for her new connections, before tailing off.
Given the rest of her 2-year-old season off, Long Lashes was brought back late last summer, placing second in a listed stakes at Sandown in one of her starts. She wrapped up 2010 with a victory in a conditions race at Leicester in October. Ted Durcan will ride.
River Jetez will attempt to turn the tables on Aspectoflove in the Balanchine. Beaten just three-quarters of a length by that rival in the Cape Verdi, River Jetez has been training forwardly since. A multiple stakes winner in her native South Africa, the 8-year-old daughter of Jet Master won three of four starts last year, highlighted by a gallant victory in the prestigious J & B Met (SAf-I). Christophe Soumillon will be aboard for trainer Mike de Kock.
Hard-knocking Strawberrydaiquiri will be making her 2011 debut in the Balanchine. It will also mark her first start for owner/trainer Fawzi Nass. The 5-year-old Dansili mare counted the Windsor Forest Stakes (Eng-II) among her five stakes wins for previous trainer Sir Michael Stoute. Strawberrydaiquiri ended her 2010 season with a good second-place finish to Sahpresa in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes (Eng-I) in October. Regular partner Ryan Moore will be in the irons.
$200,000 Balanchine Sponsored by Emirates NBD (gr. II, race 7, 1:20 p.m. EST), fillies and mares, 3yo (SH-bred) and up, 9 furlongs, turf.
PP, Horse, Wgt., Jockey, Trainer
1. River Jetez (SAf), 128, C. Soumillon, M. de Kock
2. Aspectoflove (Ire), 131, L. Dettori, S. bin Suroor
3. Anam Chara (Ire), 128, J. Murtagh, A. Oliver
4. Long Lashes (KY), 128, T. Durcan, S. bin Suroor
5. Lolamar (Ity), 128, M. Barzalona, M. Botti
6. Forest Crown (GB), 128, J. Crowley, R. Beckett
7. Strawberrydaiquiri (GB), 128, R. Moore, F. Nass
8. Kinky Afro (Ire), 128, K. Fallon, J.S. Moore
9. Gallic Star (Ire), 128, R. Hughes, M. Channon
10. Tinaar (KY), 128, W. Smith, F. Nass
11. Reem (Aus), 121, K. Shea, M. de Kock