By Jim Cornes
GAYEGO (USA)—Winner of the Presque Isle Mile over Presque Isle Downs’ Tapeta surface in track record time last September and then a solid third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile Dirt (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, Gayego was shipped to Dubai in early December. The Godolphin colorbearer has been training forwardly at the Al Quoz Stables, notably on a Tapeta training track, with seven-time United Arab Emirates champion jockey Ted Durcan aboard for some of his fast work. Gayego has been entered in the $175,000 Firebreak Stakes at 1,600 meters (about one mile) on Meydan’s Tapeta surface Feb. 10 and has to be well-regarded with Durcan in the irons. In their only other two races as a team, Durcan and Gayego won the 2009 Mahab al Shimaal (UAE-III) at Nad al Sheba and finished second in the Godolphin Mile (UAE-II). Gayego, winner of eight of 20 starts and $1,751,120, should go well fresh and has clearly shown a liking for synthetic surfaces. The handsome dark bay son of champion Gilded Time holds three track records on three different types of all-weather tracks.
MEYDAN, main turf course, Feb. 7
TIGER REIGNS (GB) and SWEET LIGHTNING (GB)—With the dogs/markers set at their outermost position (26 meters), this pair of Michael Dods trainees worked in company with jockeys Johnny Murtagh on Sweet Lightning and Willie Supple on Tiger Reigns. With the 5-year-old Tiger Reigns, winner of seven races in England, on the inside, the horses galloped about seven furlongs and sprinted home the last quarter in :23.48 (:11.84 and :11.64 splits). Sweet Lightning, a 6-year-old Fantastic Light gelding who has won four times, was the more impressive of the pair as he was never allowed to fully extend himself and galloped out strongly. This workout combined with a troubled trip at Meydan Jan. 27 when he was blocked for about 100 meters approaching the 200-meter (about one-furlong) marker while finishing seventh, beaten only three lengths from post 13, makes him one to watch. He has been entered in the third race Feb. 10 on Meydan’s all-weather surface and should improve, especially if Murtagh can find clear running on the outside in the 14-horse field going 1,900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles).
FAREER (GB)—Last seen racing at Meydan Jan. 27 when he was impeded from the outside approaching the 200-meter marker, Fareer lost all chance for a close finish at 19-1 but should not be written off due to that result. The 5-year-old gelding was back on the turf track for this workout with 2010 UAE champion jockey Tadhg “Lippy” O’Shea in the irons. Fareer went 1,400 meters (about seven furlongs) with his last 600 meters (three furlongs) in :38.21 and a final furlong in :12.01. I loved the way this horse finished his work and he galloped out full of energy. Trained by Ed Dunlop, Fareer can be expected to show marked improvement in his next run, slated for February 17 or 18.
MEYDAN, training track, Feb. 8
J J THE JET PLANE (SAF) —The very high strung but talented turf sprinter, who dazzled the world with his victory in the Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I) in December to complete a perfect three-for-three season in 2010, was schooled in the Meydan paddock prior to the races Jan. 20 and his daily work has been building in pace and distance. The 7-year-old gelded son of top South African sire Jet Master has displayed very consistent 12-second furlong intervals in his daily gallops and was scheduled to breeze 1,000 meters (about five furlongs) on the main turf course Feb. 9. Beware that his prerace paddock behavior is very energetic and he sometimes gets noticeably warm, but this is the same style that has produced some great race efforts. Twice South Africa’s champion sprinter and also that nation’s champion older horse in 2010, J J the Jet Plane has won six group I races.
MEYDAN, turf training track, Feb. 8
MONSIEUR JOE (IRE)—With trainer Walter Swinburn looking on, Monsieur Joe blew out 800 meters (about a half-mile) with the markers/dogs set at 15 meters in a solid :50.09 (last eighth-mile in :11.99) with jockey Ted Durcan aboard. Both trainer and jockey indicated they were very pleased with the work and with the 4-year-old gelding’s enthusiasm. I love the way this horse has been prepared since his last race in Dubai. Being very relaxed yet focused in his morning track work, Monsieur Joe has given every indication that he will be a tough one to beat in the fourth race Feb. 10 at Meydan, a 1,000-meter (about five-furlong) dash on turf. Durcan has been named to ride the son of Choisir against 10 rivals, including Happy Dubai, winner of his last two starts, including a half-length victory over Monsieur Joe Jan. 20.