Dullahan at Meydan in Dubai.

Dullahan at Meydan in Dubai.

Abdulla Khalif

Dullahan Takes the Stage in Burj Nahar

The Even the Score colt makes his season debut for trainer Dale Romans.

Donegal Racing’s synthetic track specialist and Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) hopeful Dullahan will sharpen up for his planned start in the $10 million race later this month in the $200,000 Burj Nahar Sponsored by Emirates Airline (UAE-III) March 9 at Meydan.

The Burj Nahar is one of seven stakes, including a pair of top-level events, on Meydan’s Super Saturday card of preps for Dubai World Cup night March 30. Stablemate Little Mike will square off against 2012 Dubai World Cup winner Monterosso in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 Sponsored by Emirates Airline (UAE-I) in the following race on the card.

Dullahan, undefeated on all-weather Tapeta tracks in the U.S. and the winner of a trio of grade I races in 2012 and 2011, arrived in Dubai March 1 along with Little Mike no worse for the wear after a 35-hour journey. Both are trained by 2012 Eclipse Award-winning trainer Dale Romans.

Dullahan’s late-running style helped him to wins in the 2012 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), defeating champion Hansen, last spring on the all-weather Polytrack at Keeneland and the Pacific Classic Stakes (gr. I), catching Game On Dude in August on the all-weather Polytrack at Del Mar. Sandwiched in between were respective third- and fifth-place finishes on dirt in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and he closed the year with a ninth-place finish behind Little Mike in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park.

The 9-2 third choice on the morning line, Dullahan will start from post two under Irish jockey Kieren Fallon in the 14-horse field for the Burj Nahar, in which the 4-year-old Even the Score  colt cuts back to 1,600 meters (about one mile) for the first time.

“He’ll run his regular race, the same kind of race he always runs, and then aim for the big one,” Romans said in reference to the World Cup. “I’d like for him to win (the Burj Nahar), but this isn’t the big one.”

Godolphin’s 2012 Burj Nahar winner African Story tops the 14-horse field for this year’s edition at 4-1 odds on the morning line. Last year’s four-length triumph over Snaafy and Musir was a springboard to victory in the Godolphin Mile (UAE-II) for the now 6-year-old Pivotal gelding.

The Maktoum family’s racing operation also will send out Moonwalk in Paris (7-2), winner of the one-mile Firebreak Stakes (G3) Feb. 14 at Meydan, and French Group 1 winner Aesop’s Fables (15-1) as well as Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Barbecue Eddie (6-to-1), winner of the Al Maktoum Challenge Round I (UAE-II) in January and third to Moonwalk in Paris in the Firebreak.

Benjamin Leon Jt.’s U.S.-based Besilu Stables is represented by Unbridled Ocean (15-1), a 5-year-old Unbridled's Song horse who captured a one-mile handicap Feb. 1 at Meydan and is aiming for a breakthrough stakes win.

The Super Saturday card includes two other group stakes: the $250,000 Dubai City Of Gold Sponsored by Emirates SkyCargo (UAE-II) and $200,000 Mahab Al Shimaal Sponsored by Emirates Skywards (UAE-III).

The Dubai City of Gold, at 2,410 meters (about 1 1/2 miles) on turf, drew nine entrants, topped by Await the Dawn and Jakkalberry, both at 7-2 on the morning line.

Await the Dawn, a group II winner at Royal Ascot in 2011, set a Meydan course record in a 2,000-meter (about 1 1/4-mile) handicap in 2:01.54 Feb. 21 for trainer and co-owner Mike de Kock.

Trainer Marco Botti’s Jakkalberry, third in the Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) last November and winner of the inaugural American St. Leger last summer at Arlington Park, was withdrawn from his season debut in the Nad al Sheba Trophy, a prelude to the Dubai City of Gold, March 2.

Other contenders include Godolphin’s Masterstroke (9-5), who makes his 2013 debut after closing last season with a third-place finish in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I), and French group I winner Cavalryman (6-to-1).

Owner-trainer Fawzi Abdulla Nass sends out Krypton Factor as the 7-5 morning line favorite for the Mahab Al Shimal, a 1,200-meter (about six-furlong) race on the all-weather track.

The 5-year-old Kyllachy gelding took last year’s Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) on World Cup night after winning the Mahab Al Shimal by 2 1/2 lengths from Hitchens, who also returns for this year’s edition.

Krypton Factor makes his second start at Meydan this season following a runner-up finish to Mental in the Al Shindagh Sprint (UAE-III) Feb. 14. He lacked a sufficient finishing kick in the closing stages and finished third after racing in mid-division.

The Super Saturday Thoroughbred stakes begin with the listed $250,000 Al Bastakiya Sponsored by Emirates Skywards, the middle jewel of the United Arab Emirates Triple Crown.

Sheikh Hamdan’s Snowboarder, 3-1 morning-line favorite, will look to rebound from respective third- and second-place finishes to South African champion Soft Falling Rain in a 1,400-meter (about seven-furlong) conditions race Jan. 17 and the United Arab Emirates Guineas (UAE-III).

The $175,000 Meydan Sprint Sponsored By Emirates Holidays attracted a full field of 16 for the 1,000-meter (about five-furlong) turf race, including Sabena Power’s multiple group I-winning European sprinter Sole Power, who is the 4-to-1 morning-line favorite.

The 6-year-old Kyllachy gelding finished fifth in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp (Fr-I) Oct. 7 in his most recent start.

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