Pat Cummings' Dubai Picks: Feb. 14

Pat Cummings analyzes races at Meydan Racecourse for Feb. 14.

By Pat Cummings

Race 1: $120,000 Range Rover Evoque Trophy Handicap (Rated 100-110) – 2,200 meters – All-weather

On paper, this race has absolutely no confirmed pacemaker. Proceed with caution, because any of the seven seem possible to win, and it’s also possible some of them change tactics given the small field size. 

#2 ROYAL EMPIRE, who tracked the pace throughout in his all-weather win here on opening night, could go forward. He ran very well when second to Mushreq over 2,000 meters on grass but seems to have some distance limitations. It’s a bit surprising Silvestre DeSousa ends up with #7 KASSIANO after having guided Royal Empire to the score before, and Barzalona hasn’t exactly shown an overwhelming penchant for racing with prominence in situations such as these recently.

We’ve tipped #4 JAMR in his last two starts and were heartily frustrated. Back with Adrie de Vries, he seems to lack any early gallop to suggest he’ll go forward, but also seems to prefer this trip over the shorter races he has contested.  Unless there is a sudden change, he seems unlikely to get the setup he needs.

#5 MODUN ran well in defeat to Spring of Fame at Kempton in November and gets this trip in his sleep. He’s versatile in the way he travels, but has mostly come from off the pace.

If you think Royal Empire has distance limitations, then Kassiano becomes the more playable of the Godolphin horses. But we’re going to get a bit crazy here and go with #6 JARDIM. This is a short field and the way things have happened this year in races empty of pace, it’s possible Christophe Soumillon recognizes the challenge and decides to make the running from the rail. He is simply not good enough, in this race, to come from off the pace, but this horse has had success racing forward in the past. Ottoman Empire won last week in what was otherwise a terrible race on paper, and Jardim covered 12 meters more than Ottoman Empire while being beaten only three lengths. Realistically, that was a solid effort from him. 

1st - #6 JARDIM, 2nd - #5 MODUN, 3rd - #7 KASSIANO

Race 2: $175,000 Jaguar XF Trophy Handicap (Rated 100+) – 1,800 meters – Turf

This is a repeat of a January 24 race at Meydan where #5 MASTEROFTHEROLLS re-opposes #12 BURANO. From that last race, Mushreq was fourth and came back to win over a longer trip after finding no room late behind a fading leader while Masteroftherolls and Burano raced in the clear. 

#7 TRADE STORM was a favorite on the North American tote last time, despite trainer David Simcock suggesting he would need that race to find some form. 

Once again, we don’t find an overwhelming amount of early speed in here, which is slightly troubling as Masteroftherolls and Burano seemed to have been brought into the race by the pace-happy Famous Warrior last time out, while 1,800 meters seems too sharp for #1 MIKHAIL GLINKA, a winner of the Dubai City of Gold (G2) at 2,400 meters last year.

Will #9 FINAL BUTTON show that he is more than just a morning glory? He gets more ground to run in this spot, but it feels like it’s just an experiment in an attempt to find his sweet spot. 

In a race where we don’t have an overwhelmingly strong opinion, the thought is that Masteroftherolls might just be a bit closer and repeat the effort.

1st - #5 MASTEROFTHEROLLS, 2nd - #7 TRADE STORM, 3rd - #12 BURANO

Race 3: $250,000 UAE 2,000 Guineas (G3) – 1,600 meters – All-weather

#8 SOFT FALLING RAIN was wildly impressive in the trial for this race, running off to land the event by 2.5 lengths. If he comes back to run even close to that, he should be an easy winner here. Having carried 62 kilograms, almost seven more than most of his rivals in the trial, he is assigned 59.5 kilograms for this event, lessening the impost swing. A tracking outside post is just fine and will allow Paul Hanagan to determine how best to settle, either on the front or in a stalking position if any others take up the running.

Several were closing well at the end of trial, including #7 GLASS OFFICE and #5 ZAHEE.  The former, trained by David Simcock, had a troubled run and never got in the clear, running the fastest final 200 meters of the race. Zahee, who was fourth, closed well from the back and actually ran the fastest sectional time in the trial from the 600-meter pole to the 200-meter spot.  They didn’t go particularly fast early, which is mostly why Soft Falling Rain went forward, but it is encouraging that Glass Office and Zahee were still firing on after a moderate early pace.

#4 FORTIFY will get plenty of attention from North American camps, having run behind Shanghai Bobby in each of his last three races. Off since his last start, fourth beaten four in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), he is expected to need this race and has rarely had a clean trip.  The American-based runners that have been brought back for these races have had little success, and we expect little difference from Fortify.

We have to think that Glass Office will, in fact, run better in a smaller field and with some more room. This might be the distance limitation for Soft Falling Rain, but he is still an on-top selection.

1st - #8 SOFT FALLING RAIN, 2nd - #7 GLASS OFFICE, 3rd - #5 ZAHEE

 Race 4: $200,000 Firebreak Stakes (G3) – 1,600 meters – All-weather

With four consecutive wins, the first grade/group level win of his career coming last time, and basically just running in the best form of his life, #4 BARBECUE EDDIE is the horse to beat.  Paul Hanagan gets a leg up for the first time, but such is the life of jockey retention and choices – he was on the wrong horse in the Maktoum Challenge Round I (G2), choosing Mufaarh over this gelding. 

#7 DADDY LONG LEGS gets a fresh start over what might arguably be his best surface, but this guy surely needs the run, and likely a longer trip. Like some others have done in the past, this race could just be a leg-stretcher for an aim at the Maktoum Challenge Round III (G1) on Super Saturday (March 9), or another interim step. Improvement back on the all-weather track is likely, especially for Team de Kock, but we’d have to wait a race.

The problem in this race is that it is undeniably full of speed, likely to come from #2 CAPITAL ATTRACTION, #3 OUT OF BOUNDS, #8 TREBLE JIG, and #10 ELDERLY PARADISE, with #13 SILVER OCEAN and #14 HAATHEQ not far off it. 

We made much about how the Maktoum Challenge Round I field left something to be desired—that if Barbecue Eddie was going to get the first group level win of his career, and do so at the age of nine, it would be against that bunch. This group is very similar. 

While closing from off the pace has been seemingly difficult at Meydan this season, if the pace is true as this race indicates, horses should be able to come from well-back. #1 MOONWALK IN PARIS fits that bill. Three of his four lifetime wins have been from off the pace on all-weather surfaces in France. He was purchased by Godolphin out of the October 2010 Arqana Sales for 310,000 Euros, and is clearly a miler. Off the layoff, this guy seems to be getting an absolutely perfect pace setup in the race. 



Race 5: $200,000 Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) – 1,200 meters – All-weather

2012 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner #3 KRYPTON FACTOR returns, and will get loads of play, surely. He was a good second in his first-up run, which was against handicap company on grass last year, and wheeled-back in five days to win over this trip and surface. With the weights against him outside of stakes ranks, this race has always been an expected starting point.  Racing with prominence, however, he is likely to be in the mix, and could simply outclass them.  Considering how well he runs on this surface and with the future in mind, he could be 80% and still win, but a huge degree of consideration to prepare him well for the 2013 Golden Shaheen on March 30 comes into mind. Backing him is a toss of the coin. This might be the time to play against.

Godolphin has brought several Aussie sprinters to Dubai in recent years, none with much success.  #6 MENTAL is potentially different – at least in the fact that he gets to start over the all-weather in a prep race before even considering the Dubai World Cup meeting. Their Sepoy was a well-beaten tenth in last year’s Golden Shaheen after gaudy stats in Australia, but all those races were on the grass. Similarly, they started Soul in the Golden Shaheen, his first career start on the synthetic surface. Peter Snowden, who trained Mental to multiple Group 1 wins in Australia, said this guy is possibly the best horse he has trained for Sheikh Mohammed.  If Mental wins, or at least runs credibly, we’ll know whether or not he can handle the track. If he doesn’t, it gives Godolphin a chance to regroup and get him ready for the Al Quoz Sprint, over the grass they know he relishes. This is a very clear experiment – why would you back him today?

The presence of #10 GANAS does make the race a bit more interesting in that he obviously runs with prominence. He’s shot up the ratings for the UAE’s leading trainer Ernst Oertel, and while his ability to hang around at the finish in this company is questionable, his attendance to the pace should give added interest to closers.

#9 HITCHENS won this race a year ago after getting plenty of setup from midpack. The pace was swift in this race then, and it seems like it is likely to be that way again. #7 BALMONT MAST ran on well from off the pace last time when locally in-form Reynaldothewizard ran down Ganas. A class test, for sure.

#12 TAMAATHUL requires consideration given his peak condition this season. He can run on from just off the pace or farther back, which is where we would expect him over this sharper distance. #1 KAVANAGH could also move forward after a credible run two back.

Overall, while this year’s setup getting to the Dubai Golden Shaheen is likely different, it’s tough to go against a horse who gets over the all-weather track so well, and is likely to have someone else doing the early running. 

1st - #3 KRYPTON FACTOR, 2nd - #12 TAMAATHUL, 3rd - #7 BALMONT MAST

 Race 6: $175,000 Range Rover Sport Trophy Handicap (Rated 100+) – 2,435 meters – Turf

#7 ANATOLIAN was a winner over what was essentially this trip last time. The second, third, and fifth finishers all came back last week and ran second, first, and third. That’s some powerful form franking as they all confirmed it was a good race. Anatolian was closer to the hot tempo than those horses, so the form really suggests he ran a quality race hanging in for the win. He’s the top pick.

#4 FATTSOTA is a competent handicapper whose runs in similar company over the distance in England make him the main threat to the top pick. A fourth behind Encke stands out on paper. It might just be a question of whether or not he is ready first-up. 

#6 LINDENTHALER ran well, if not evenly, over a 2,000-meter race on the second night of the Carnival. This German-bred was surely likely to need the run and considering his even race, could improve slightly over this added trip. He hasn’t won in a long time, but a placing chance is within his reach.

1st - #7 ANATOLIAN, 2nd - #4 FATTSOTA, 3rd - #6 LINDENTHALER

Pat’s Picks 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival Stats: 30 selections – 7 first, 4 seconds (23%)