Dale Romans' multiple grade I winners Dullahan and Little Mike arrived at the Dubai World Cup quarantine center at Meydan Racecourse a little after noon, Eastern time, on March 1 following more than 35 hours of travel from their base at Gulfstream Park.
Both runners are aimed at races on Super Saturday, March 9, of the Dubai World Cup Carnival prior to competing on the March 30 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) program.
"We just unloaded them. They just walked off the truck and they look good. They have travelled well," said John Nicholls, who oversees the World Cup quarantine center. The horses were driven from the airport in the nearby emirate of Sharjah to the center, where they were bedded down in Barn 9.
Tammy Fox, Romans' partner and exercise rider, is with the horses. They also were accompanied by Angela Walker on the journey, which included a stopover in Amsterdam.
Under Dubai quarantine procedures, Dullahan and Little Mike will be allowed to take their first steps on the Meydan track March 4, Nicholls said.
Before the pair—who together have won six grade I races and earned $4,788,503—left for Dubai, Romans said he was pleased with how they have been training but had not yet decided which races to run them in March 9. He wants to try both on the Meydan synthetic Tapeta track but not against each other, and his options are the $400,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round III (UAE-I) over the Dubai World Cup distance of 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) and the $200,000 Burj Nahaar (UAE-III) at 1,600 meters (about one mile).
"They're both doing well—they're doing super," Romans said.
Priscilla and Carlo Vaccarezza's homebred Little Mike, who won the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) in his most recent start, will be tested on the synthetic track to see if he handles it well enough to compete in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), the richest race on the globe. The 6-year-old gelding by Spanish Steps also has the option to run in either of the premier turf races on World Cup day, the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I), run over 2,410 meters (about 1 1/2 miles), or the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I), contested at 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles).
Donegal Racing's Dullahan, a son of Even the Score and winner of the Pacific Classic Stakes (gr. I) at 1 1/4 miles on Del Mar's Polytrack synthetic track last summer, is slated to run in the Dubai World Cup after his Super Saturday prep. English-based jockey Kieren Fallon has been retained to ride both Romans runners March 9.
Romans won the Dubai World Cup at the old Nad Al Sheba Racecourse in 2005 with Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Roses in May. After Meydan opened in 2010 with a synthetic surface, it has been clear that horses that have run and trained over the track for some time prior to the World Cup have tended to race more effectively in the big races.
Other American trainers, however, have not chosen to send their World Cup horses to Dubai prior to the standard shipping time of about two weeks prior to marquee event. In World Cup history, Steve Asmussen was the only other American trainer to ship a major star for a prep race in Dubai prior to his main target, and he was rewarded as two-time Horse of the Year Curlin captured both the prep and the World Cup.