Ihtimal Goes for More Classic Glory at Meydan
Ihtimal will try to add a second classic win to her record Feb. 27 in the $250,000 United Arab Emirates Oaks Sponsored by Saeed and Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (UAE-III) at Meydan Racecourse.
Godolphin's diminutive starlet reopposes eight of the 10 fillies she handily defeated in the United Arab Emirates One Thousand Guineas Feb. 6 at Meydan.
The field's standout, Ihtimal owns two group wins in England last year as well as a third-place finish in the Shadwell Fillies' Mile (Eng-I) to conclude the season. The Shamardal filly stretches out beyond a mile for the first time in trying the Oaks at 1,900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles) on the all-weather track for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, who has sent out eight previous Oaks winners, including three to complete the classic double: Satin Kiss (2005), Folk (2007), and Cocoa Beach (2008).
"She is a very nice filly," bin Suroor said. "Her form in England was very good and she switched that level of performance to the all-weather in the Guineas. Her work since has been good and I think the extra 300m will suit her. She should go very close."
Mike de Kock saddles Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum trio of Mensoora, who finished a distant second in the Guineas, as well as Magrooma, who was fifth, and Magroora, who was seventh. All three are seeking breakthrough stakes wins.
"Mensoora would be our main hope," de Kock said.
"Ihtimal has proven Group race form in Europe and obviously coped with the all-weather surface well in the Guineas. She is going to be very hard to beat but it is a horse race and anything can happen."
Charlie Appleby sends out Guineas third-place finisher Feedyah for Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid al Maktoum.
"It was always the plan to go straight to the Guineas and then here," Appleby said of the Street Cry filly. "She has improved with that run behind her and the extra 300 meters will suit but Ihtimal is going to be hard to beat."
The Guineas seventh- through 10th-place finishers of Mohammed Albousi Alghufli's More Aspen, Thistle Bloodstock's Letterfromamerica, Qatar Racing's Illuminating Dream, and Zaur Sekrekov's Sign of Lucky round out the field.
The U.A.E. Oaks is part of the "Road to the Kentucky Oaks" series and awards points to the top four finishers on a 50-20-10-5 basis.
The card, the eighth meeting of the Dubai World Cup Carnival, also includes the $250,000 Zabeel Mile (UAE-II) and listed $125,000 Meydan Classic.
Qatar Racing's Trade Storm will bid for a repeat win in the Zabeel Mile. The strapping son of Trade Fair comes in off a 10th-place finish Jan. 30 in his season bow in the Al Rashidiya (UAE-II), where he settled at the back of the field and never was in contention.
"He needed that first run badly," trainer David Simcock said. "He has come out of that in great form and is exactly where we want him to be weight wise. He improved an awful lot from his first run last season and we expect him to do so again."
Trade Storm won last year's Zabeel Mile by 1 1/2 lengths from Musir before finishing a creditable fourth in the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) on the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) undercard.
Ten are entered for the Meydan Classic, a 1,400-meter (about seven-furlong) truf race for 3-year-olds.
The Pat Shanahan-trained Dolce N Karama was fourth in the Racing Post Trophy (Eng-I) in October to cap his juvenile season. He was eighth in the United Arab Emirates Two Thousand Guineas trial on the all-weather track six weeks ago in his first start of the year.
Winner of his only start in England, Wednaan made a very promising local debut when third in the United Arab Emirates Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-III) Feb. 13. He is trained by de Kock, as is Jallota, ninth in the same race.
"Both our two are big runners and going very nicely in the mornings," he said.
"Wednaan is the form choice but ignore Jallota at your peril; he has really improved over the last two weeks."
More information on the Dubai World Cup Carnival, including entries, free past performance data, selections, videos, and more, is available at www.amwestentertainment.com. HRTV will broadcast the card live, starting at 9:30 a.m. EST.
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