A full field of 14, including seven grade/group I winners, will square off in the $300,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 Sponsored by Emirates Airline (UAE-II) at Meydan Racecourse March 3. The 10-furlong contest is one of six stakes races that make up the Super Thursday program, which spotlights several key prep races leading up to Dubai World Cup day on March 26.
One glaring omission from the Maktoum Challenge is Bold Silvano, who scored an easy victory in Round 2 on Feb. 3. The Mike de Kock-trainee has been considered the early favorite for the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) since his scintillating 1 1/2-length win, but will be forced to miss this race due to a bruised foot.
De Kock told the Racing Post, “It’s just a bruised foot, nothing serious and I would think he will just miss a few days. The short break may actually be a blessing, as we have been keeping him busy in the mornings.”
When asked if he was worried about missing the race, de Kock said, “It was no great issue as he was very fit and well before this minor setback.” Bold Silvano will now head straight to the World Cup.
Multiple stakes winner Richard's Kid will be making his 2011 debut in the Maktoum Challenge. The race will be the 6-year-old’s first start for trainer Satish Seemar, who takes over conditioning the son of Lemon Drop Kid from Bob Baffert.
A winner of nine of 27 lifetime starts, Richard’s Kid ended his 2010 season with back-to-back grade I victories. After capturing the Pacific Classic Stakes Presented by TVG (gr. I) for the second consecutive year, Richard’s Kid ended the year on a high note by taking the Goodwood Stakes (gr. I) over eventual Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) winner Dakota Phone.
The connections of Richard’s Kid hope that their charge will benefit this season from a race over the Tapeta course. Last year, Richard’s Kid finished seventh to Gloria de Campeao in the World Cup in what was his only start over the track. Jockey Richard Mullen will be aboard for the first time Thursday.
Henry Cecil’s Twice Over will break from post 13 under regular rider, Tom Queally. The son of Observatory, who races as a homebred for Juddmonte Farm, is another hoping to use this race as a springboard to the World Cup.
The two-time winner of the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes (Eng-I) has been doing very well over the winter, and Cecil is very pleased with his progress so far, stating on his website: “Twice Over is in very good form and seems even better in himself than this time last year.
“Unfortunately he doesn’t have a very good draw for the third round of the Al Maktoum Challenge on Thursday (13), but hopefully he will run a really encouraging race. We think that he will come on from this race and it should give us a better idea of our chance in the Dubai World Cup.”
Arlington Million (gr. IT) winner Debussy will be making his first start under the Godolphin banner, and is one of four runners that will go to post for the stable. Formerly trained by John Gosden, the son of Diesis now resides in the barn of Mahmood Al Zarooni. This will be the second time that Debussy will try for success over the Meydan main track; he was a disappointing 10th in this race last year.
Regular pilot William Buick will be in the saddle.
Al Zarooni will also send out multiple stakes winner Etched, who will be ridden by Ahmed Ajtebi. Previously trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, the son of Forestry captured both the Monmouth Cup Stakes (gr. II) and the listed Formal Gold Stakes last year while racing under the Darley banner.
Gitano Hernando will try and make amends for his dull performance in Round 2 of the Maktoum Challenge, where he finished fifth out of nine runners. The Marco Botti-trained son of Hernando will be ridden for the first time by Johnny Murtagh, who replaces Weichong Marwing.
Even though Bold Silvano will be forced to skip the race, Mike de Kock will still be well represented in the race as he sends out the group I winning duo of Musir and Irish Flame. Musir will be hoping to improve off of his second-place finish in the listed Firebreak Stakes on Feb. 10. A winner of both the UAE 2000 Guineas and UAE Derby (UAE-II) last year, the son of Redoute’s Choice will try to stamp his ticket to the World Cup with a good showing here. Christophe Soumillon will be aboard.
Irish Flame has started twice so far this season in Dubai, turning in rather poor performances over the turf course. De Kock switches the group I-winning son of Dynasty to the main track with the hopes of a better outcome. Kevin Shea will ride.
$300,000 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 Sponsored by Emirates Airline (gr. II, race 7, 1:05 p.m. EST), 3yo (SH-bred) and up, 10 furlongs, Tapeta. PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey, Trainer 1. Musir (Aus), 126, C. Soumillon, M. de Kock
2. Eavesdropper (GB), 126, M. Barzalona, M. Al Zarooni
3. Prince Bishop (Ire), 126, L. Dettori, S. bin Suroor
4. Debussy (Ire), 126, W. Buick, M. Al Zarooni
5. Hot Six (Brz), 126, R. Ffrench, E. Martins
6. Rajsaman (Fr), 126, K. Fallon, F. Head
7. Etched (KY), 126, A. Ajtebi, M. Al Zarooni
8. Win For Sure (Ger), 126, G. Benoist, X. Nakkachdji
9. Mufarrh (Ire), 126, R. Hills, A. Al Raihe
10. Haatheq (KY), 126, T. O’Shea, A. Al Raihe
11. Gitano Hernando (GB), 126, J. Murtagh, M. Botti
12. Richard’s Kid (MD), 126, R. Mullen, S. Seemar
13. Twice Over (GB), 126, T. Queally, H. Cecil
14. Irish Flame (SAf), 126, K. Shea, M. de Kock