By Pat Cummings
For Thursday, Feb. 28
Note: two of Godolphin’s riders, Carnival leader Silvestre De Sousa and Ahmad Ajtebi, are serving suspensions which include the races at Meydan Feb. 28 and March 2.
Race 1 - $120,000 CBD World MasterCard Handicap (Rated 100-110), 2,200 meters (about 1 3/8 Miles) – All-Weather (9:45 a.m. EST)
Here is a rarity in racing at the Carnival – a bunch of speed! #1 ELDERLY PARADISE and #10 BOB LE BEAU really know no other way but to dictate tempo, while #8 IN THE SPOTLIGHT, who gets her first start on the all-weather, prompts the pace, if not pushing it along regardless of how fast or slow it might be or the distance of the race. All three are competent chances but think they might cancel each other out with the trip.
It’s tough to get beyond #6 KASSIANO. He hasn’t been eye-catching, that much is clear, but his workmanlike performances have been just enough to win, and he’s done it at this distance. Drawn in 5, he should secure a good position and the pace seems to benefit his mid-pack running style.
#4 BAY WILLOW does not have to be on the lead, but enterprising rides from Richard Mullen put him there. This is a tougher race than the two all-weather wins he’s had in 2013, but we think Mullen (who has proven his ability to judge the pre-race pace on paper better than anyone in the jockeys’ room) will recognize he can sit off the pace. A win might be asking too much, but we expect him in the mix.
#9 PISCO SOUR has shed the blue Godolphin silks and ran on well enough when third in a slow paced Bay Willow win earlier in the season. We are willing to toss that last race marathon on grass and focus on the fact that this race and its likely speed can draw him into a good spot.
1st - #6 KASSIANO, 2nd - #9 PISCO SOUR, 3rd - #4 BAY WILLOW
Race 2 - $120,000 CBD Personal Loan Handicap (Rated 100-110), 1,200 meters (about 6 furlongs) – All-Weather (10:20 a.m. EST)
This is a fairly wide open affair and should yield value in the betting. #2 THE REAPER does not win much, but he’s had nine placings, including three wins, on the all-weather, including a four-length defeat to Krypton Factor in a Meydan handicap from last year.
#12 FAMOUS WARRIOR has danced many dances this year but has seemingly been crying out for a sprint where he can carry his speed and break away. The outside draw isn’t much help for him, but considering the way he breaks, he’ll just go on with it and hope to sneak off. There are a few others with early speed, but none will likely carry on if this guy tries to make all. Last week, he set the pace through the first 1,200 meters in 1:11.81, which might not be enough to get the job done this week, but it could get him close.
#3 UNITED COLOR should be well-backed off continual good efforts at Jebel Ali, but after all, it’s Jebel Ali, where the general quality of competition is not as high. He’s been beaten by both Kilt Rock and Russian Rock this season, and those two are clearly lovers of Jebel Ali. He’s in the mix frequently and will get attention because of it, but otherwise, we suggest staying away.
#4 WHAILEYY can stalk or sit off the pace, and there will be some solid galloping in here; his runs in November and January are enough to make him definitely competitive here. Similarly, #8 DUBAWI SOUND entices following a credible run in the Al Shindagha Sprint (UAE-III), five lengths behind Mental, as he and #1 HITCHENS had similar trips and finishes. Hitchens has seemingly been just a cut below where he was a season ago, but he did improve last time and now goes third up, a favorite angle. That being said, he’s saddled with top weight along with The Reaper.
#6 FARIDAT deserves attention. He’s an old galloper and they are hoping to make the Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) if he can get his rating up with a top performance. He needs a very good run to get into the big race. We would not be surprised by any result from this Japanese shipper, but he is still difficult to pick on top.
In the end, while it is a very balanced race, we are looking for a horse from the second-flight to pick up the running late. We think that is Whaileyy.
1st - #4 WHAILEYY, 2nd - #2 THE REAPER, 3rd - #12 FAMOUS WARRIOR
Race 3 - $150,000 Meydan Classic (Listed), 1,600 meters (about 1 mile) – Turf (10:55 a.m. EST)
#3 ELLEVAL was so wildly impressive, and unexpectedly so, in winning the Meydan Classic Trial. A son of Kodiac, this David Marnane trainee rocketed up the ratings from an 88 to a 102, and has become a deserving favorite for this race. The Trakus sectional timing data from his performance is well worth discussing. Elleval was last turning for home and flew to the wire with a final 600 meters in :34.25, which was :0.88 faster than the next fastest closer in the race, second-placer El Estruendoso.
There have been three races over 1,400 meters on turf this season during the Carnival, and this race with its final time of 1:24.65 seconds was the slowest, but it also had the slowest early pace. On opening night of the Carnival, Le Drakkar won over 1,400 meters and closed from last with 800 meters to run and won by less than a length. He ran his final 600 meters in :34.44, defeating the well-regarded Tamaathul, who came back to win over a shorter trip the next week. Le Drakkar settled well off a :47.66 early 800-meter leader’s sectional, while Elleval was at the back following a :49.17 early split.
Marnane said last weekend that the horse has improved plenty since the race and is one of the most exciting prospects he’s ever had. Even the slightest improvement makes the gelding a force.
#7 DEAUVILLE PRINCE ran a very good race in the UAE 2,000 Guineas (UAE-III) when beaten three lengths by Soft Falling Rain, doing it all from the front end. He’ll have company in the form of #8 DARKENING and #5 LUHAIF, all of which should ensure a solid early gallop which really has us looking more for closers.
#1 NOW SPUN is a new shooter in this bunch. An easy winner in his second career start over soft going at Leicester, the seven horses behind him have made eight starts since, all in maiden company, and were 0-for-8 with only two placings. As for his debut on all-weather, the three horses that finished in front of him and have come back to start are a combined 0-for-10. He will get attention as a new player, but the form really hasn’t played out to suggest it’s deserved. If he is a factor, it might be a result of the pace drawing him into it.
It’s patently obvious that taking Elleval now is a classic case of catching the funeral after missing the wedding, and if the second home from the Trial was in here, there might be some different thinking. But he does seem the best, in-form horse, and a solid enough early pace suggests he can manage the task twice.
1st - #3 ELLEVAL, 2nd - #7 DEAUVILLE PRINCE, 3rd - #1 NOW SPUN
Race 4 - $120,000 Al Dana Visa Infinite Card Handicap (Rated 100-110), 1,600 meters (about 1 mile) – All-Weather (11:30 a.m. EST)
This looks another well-measured race from a pace standpoint, with plenty of balance across the ledger.
One has to look at #6 AMANEE as potentially ignored value in this spot. Second in the Cape Verdi (UAE-II) behind Sajjhaa, who went on to defeat Igugu last week in the Balanchine (UAE-II), she found all sorts of trouble in that race. Preseason, Mike de Kock indicated this 4-year-old filly was likely to get some work on the all-weather, and we will see the results now. Dig deeper into her last run for specific detail on the trouble. At the 1,300-meter point, she was a half-meter off the rail, then 2.2 meters off at the 1400-meter mark, 3.1 meters off at the 1500, and crossed the wire 5.5 meters off. Sajjhaa kept her pinned in when she could have made a move. In the segment from the 1100 to the 1200-meter point, Amanee averaged 61.5 KPH, and when pinned in, checked and shifting out, she was set back to 59.4 KPH from the 1200 to the 1300-meter point in the race. At the most important time, she really suffered significant difficulty. She doesn’t need to move forward much to get the prize, although she is taking on older males.
The Godolphin entrants here are likely to get attention. #5 KINGLET is the best chance in our opinion, a winner at course and distance and likely in need of that leg-stretcher last time. He recorded the second-fastest final 400-meter split. Is he good enough while still searching for his first win against open company?
#1 MUFARRH comes out of the much-viewed Maktoum Challenge Round II (UAE-II) which was won by Hunter’s Light and has produced with several next-out winners. He is a course and distance winner, but that was in the 2011 season. While capable, he will come running from the tail and frequently just misses. We’ve long chased #3 DISA LEADER as a possible Carnival winner, and he always gives it a good shot, but he’ll have to win and surprise us this time.
#10 SANDAGIYR is 0-for-8 since a win in the Firebreak Stakes (UAE-III) last season and had a brilliant setup to catch Unbridled Ocean last week, but failed to get there in the final strides. That was a quick race, and the pace is likely not as fast this week. It would be surprising if he wasn’t in the mix.
1st - #6 AMANEE, 2nd - #4 KINGLET, 3rd - #10 SANDAGIYR
Race 5 - $250,000 UAE Oaks (UAE-III), 1,900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles) – All-Weather (12:05 p.m. EST)
Through two races of the UAE filly classic series, one thing has seemed completely clear; these gals are not speedy. While it’s easy to argue that these are young 3-year-old fillies, both performances from #4 MUSIC CHART in the UAE 1,000 Guineas Trial and #1 LOVELY PASS in the UAE 1,000 Guineas were the slowest recorded races at those distances so far this Carnival. While the sample size is far from significant, it is worth noting. Deep also-rans in the male versions of these races were running faster final times than the winning fillies.
At this point, we have to think that Music Chart and #8 SHURUQ are exposed enough to take a solid opinion against both of them. That leaves Guineas winner Lovely Pass and #2 EMOTIF. As we mentioned in previous analysis, Emotif was late to get going this season after a case of heat stroke in quarantine and was always expected to appreciate the longer trips as a daughter of Giant’s Causeway. All things considered, she ran better in her first-up performance than a good number of the Mike de Kock runners. Meanwhile, Lovely Pass just lasted in what was also her first-up effort. Provided both move forward in the Oaks, it’s just a question of who appreciates the extra ground and progresses most. We are siding with Emotif.
1st - #2 EMOTIF, 2nd - #1 LOVELY PASS, 3rd - #8 SHURUQ
Race 6 - $175,000 CBD Mortgage Loan Handicap (Rated 100+), 1,400 meters (about 7 furlongs) – Turf (12:40 p.m. EST)
Absolutely nothing went right for #8 JAASOOS last time, and he gets our tip in the finale. He clipped heels in extremely tight quarters and almost went down, got shuffled back through most of the field as a result, then regained the bit and ran on well despite lacking room at numerous places. According to the stewards’ report, he "returned with lacerations to his hind legs," more or less, he never had a chance. That being said, he ran very well, and now gets apprentice Marc Monaghan and the low weight in the field. We’re taking a shot with him.
#5 KENNY POWERS was in the same race as Jaasoos, and now goes third off the shelf. He is actually still winless on grass but continues to put in good efforts. #9 DAVID LIVINGSTON was purchased as an Indian stallion prospect, but sent to Mike de Kock for one more season. The Irish group II winner had issues, according to de Kock. He doesn’t get the toughest bunch, but it seems a big ask for his first start since August.
Godolphin’s Aussie import #6 PIED A TERRE should move forward for the boys in blue, getting back on the grass. As we mentioned when we tipped him last time, he was a length behind the eventual Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) winner Green Moon over a mile earlier last year, but he just hasn’t been at his best since. He deserves another shot in this spot.
1st - #8 JAASOOS, 2nd - #6 PIED A TERRE, 3rd - #5 KENNY POWERS
Pat Cummings, of Trakus and Dubai Race Night, has partnered with AmWest Entertainment to provide enhanced handicapping analyses. Cummings, who has covered Dubai Carnival racing since 2008, will establish the morning-line odds for each Carnival program as well as offer selections and both pre- and post-race analysis.
Pat’s Picks Carnival Stats to Date:
42 races – 11 first (26%), 4 second, 3 third