A full field of 14 will go to the post in the $400,000 Al Maktoum Challenge-Round 3 Sponsored by Emirates (UAE-I), one of two newly elevated group I races that anchor a superb seven-race card on the “Super Saturday” program at Meydan Racecourse March 10.
The seven races, worth a total of $1,775,000, serve as the principal stepping stones for the $27 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) program March 31.
Mendip leads a five-strong combined assault from trainers Saeed bin Suroor and Mahmood al Zarooni in the Al Maktoum Challenge. The two UAE-based conditioners will send out representatives for both Godolphin and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al Maktoum on Saturday.
Mendip, a son of Harlan's Holiday, is one of three runners trained by bin Suroor, and will race in the colors of Sheikh Mohammed’s son, Sheikh Hamdan. The 5-year-old horse enters off a decisive victory in the Al Maktoum Challenge-Round 2 Sponsored by Dubal (UAE-II) Feb. 9. Mendip has always shown a strong affinity for the Meydan surface, notching at least one stakes victory for the past two years. Kieren Fallon will ride.
Bin Suroor will also send out Prince Bishop and Spring of Fame for Godolphin. Prince Bishop, a 5-year-old gelding by Dubawi, finished fifth behind Mendip in the Al Maktoum Challenge-Round 2 in his last start. Prior to that, the gelding was an easy winner of a 10-furlong handicap over the main track in January. A group II winner in France, Prince Bishop finished 10th in the 2011 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I). Frankie Dettori will be aboard.
Mahmood al Zarooni will be represented by Monterosso and Capponi. Monterosso will be making his first start since finishing third to Victoire Pisa in last year’s Dubai World Cup. In his only other start last year, the son of Dubawi was an impressive winner of the Dubai City of Gold Sponsored by Emirates Airline (UAE-IIT). Mickael Barzalona will once again be in the saddle.
Capponi enters the race off two straight victories in handicap company during the Carnival meet. The 5-year-old horse by Medicean has won six of his 12 lifetime starts. Ahmed Ajtebi will ride.
Mike de Kock will send out Bold Silvano and Irish Flame. Bold Silvano hopes to rebound from a fifth-place finish to Sandagiyr in the Firebreak Stakes Sponsored by Dubal (UAE-III) Feb. 9. That was the 6-year-old’s first start since winning the 2011 Al Maktoum Challenge-Round 2 Sponsored by Etisalat (UAE-III). Irish Flame, a multiple group I winner in South Africa, will be making his third start of the meet, and his first over the Tapeta main track. Both previous races resulted in fifth-place finishes. Kevin Shea will ride.
Another to keep an eye on is Fly Down, who was a stakes winner earlier this year in Saudi Arabia. A former Nick Zito trainee, Fly Down won the Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) and finished second in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) as a 3-year-old. In his final start for Zito, the son of Mineshaft finished 13th in the 2011 Dubai World Cup.
The field is rounded out by Al Shemali, winner of the 2010 Dubai Duty Free Sponsored by Dubai Duty Free (UAE-IT); Richard's Kid, winner of the Goodwood Stakes (gr. I) and Pacific Classic (gr. I) in 2010; Treble Jig, a two-time listed stakes winner at Jebel Ali Racecourse; Silver Pond, a group II winner in France; Green Destiny, a multiple stakes winner in England; and Haatheq, a son of Seeking the Gold who is pursuing his first stakes win.
$400,000 Al Maktoum Challenge-Round 3 Sponsored by Emirates (gr. I, race 7, 11:05 a.m. EST), 3YO (SH-Bred) and Up, 10 Furlongs (Tapeta). All carry 126 pounds.
PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Monterosso (GB), M. Barzalona, M. Al Zarooni
2. Bold Silvano (SAf), C. Soumillon, M. de Kock
3. Prince Bishop (Ire), L. Dettori, S. bin Suroor
4. Al Shemali (GB), R. Ffrench, A. Al Raihe
5. Haatheq (KY), R. Hills, A. Al Raihe
6. Richard’s Kid (MD), R. Mullen, S. Seemar
7. Capponi (Ire), A. Ajtebi, M. Al Zarooni
8. Treble Jig (KY), W. Smith, M. Al Muhairi
9. Mendip (KY), K. Fallon, S. bin Suroor
10. Green Destiny (Ire), R. Moore, H. Brown
11. Fly Down (KY), C. Ospina, B. Al Subaie
12. Silver Pond (Fr), O. Peslier, D. Watson
13. Spring of Fame (PA), J. Murtagh, S. bin Suroor
14. Irish Flame (SAf), K. Shea, M. de Kock