Former United States classics hopeful Out of Bounds is set to launch his long-awaited comeback for Godolphin in the $250,000 Longines Al Maktoum Challenge Round I (UAE-II), the headline event at Meydan Racecourse on Jan. 10, opening night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
The 1,600-meter (about one mile) race on the synthetic Tapeta Footings surface drew nine other entrants, including Godolphin's English group II winner Fulbright and Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum's hard-knocking Barbecue Eddie, a Meydan favorite.
Out of Bounds will be making his first start in a year since stamping himself as a horse to watch on the Triple Crown trail with a 1 1/2-length win over 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint winner Secret Circle in the Sham Stakes (gr. II) last January at Santa Anita Park.
Campaigned as a homebred for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum's Darley operation and trainer Eoin Harty, the Kentucky-bred colt by Discreet Cat out of Breeders' Cup 2001 Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) winner Unbridled Elaine captured the Sham in his only start of the season before he fractured his left front ankle in March, ultimately missing the classics. The injury was discovered following a bullet five-furlong workout at the Arcadia, Calif., track while he was being prepared for the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II). After surgery to repair the non-displaced condylar fracture and rest, he re-entered training under the Maktoum family's Godolphin banner with Saeed bin Suroor at the Al Quoz facility in Dubai. Silverstre De Sousa has the mount for Suroor, who has trained seven winners of Al Maktoum Challenge Round I.
Fulbright is trained at Godolphin's Marmoom Stables by Mahmood Al Zarooni. The British-bred 4-year-old Exceed And Excel colt is a recent addition, having previously raced in England for Sheikh Hamdan and trainer Mark Johnston, for whom he posted eight wins, a second, and three thirds from 20 career starts
A three-time stakes winner, Fulbright is coming off a career-defining season in 2012, during which he won half of his 12 starts, including the seven-furlong Dubai Challenge (Eng-II) on Oct. 13 in his group debut and 2012 finale. The versatile bay colt proved himself going a mile last year after starting his career at a sprinter. A three-race win streak last summer included a pair of wins at six furlongs at Newmarket, capped by the Betfred Mile at Goodwood in August. Mikael Barzalona will be aboard as Fulbright stretches back out to a mile.
Sheikh Hamdan will be represented by three runners, including 9-year-old Barbecue Eddie, who is aiming for a breakthrough group win after placing five times in graded stakes in the U.S. in 2007 and 2008, including the 2007 Ancient Title Stakes (gr. I). The Maryland-bred Stormy Atlantic gelding, trained by three-time champion Doug Watson, will make his 18th start at Meydan, where he has posted six wins, including 2012 with back-to-back efforts going a mile in November and December. Dane O'Neill will be aboard.
Sheikh Hamdan's other contenders include Mufarrh, runner-up in the 2012 Etisalat Godolphin Mile (UAE-I) for last season's champion trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe, and Tajaaweed, a grade/group III winner in the U.S. and England who is trained by Watson.
Other contenders include English multiple group winner Fanunalter, who finished third in the 2011 Dubai Duty Free Zabeel Mile (UAE-II) for trainer Marco Botti.
The Al Maktoum Challenge is carded as the evening's sixth race. For entries, visit http://www.emiratesracing.com/node/3?id=2540#tab-9009