Godolphin’s Vale of York is set to return to competition on March 4 in the $250,000 Al Bastakiya, the middle jewel of the United Arab Emirates Triple Crown and one of six lucrative stakes on the "Super Thursday" program at Meydan Racecourse.
The Al Bastakiya, run over 1,900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles) on the all-weather Tapeta track, will be a key test for Vale of York as Godolphin decides whether to send him back to the United States for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) or point him toward a European classic campaign. If he does well in the Al Bastakiya, Vale of York could advance on to the $2 million UAE Derby (UAE-II) on the March 27 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) program.
"Vale of York has been a bit behind schedule but runs in the Al Bastakiya to start him off," Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said of the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner "He will need the race and we will see how he gets on before deciding about the UAE Derby."
Also set to be contested at 1,900 meters for the first time this year due to the configuration of Meydan, the UAE Derby has been an early goal for Vale of York, an Irish-bred son of Invincible Spirit who has won half of his six career starts while competing in England, Italy and the U.S. He raced exclusively on turf before scoring his upset victory by a head over American champion Lookin At Lucky in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile over Santa Anita Park’s synthetic surface.
Crisford said earlier this month that although Godolphin has winning the Kentucky Derby as its primary goal, it is equally possible Vale of York might go back to Europe rather than come to Kentucky due to his lack of experience on dirt tracks.
In other plans for some of Godolphin’s major runners, Crisford reported that 2008 American champion juvenile Midshipman , who handily won a 1,400-meter (about seven-furlong) allowance at Meydan on February 25, will race next in the $1 million Godolphin Mile (UAE-II) on the World Cup program.
Gayego, winner of last year’s Ancient Title Stakes (gr. I) and an unlucky fourth in the four-horse Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) photo finish, will start next in the $2-million Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) on World Cup night without another prep, Crisford said. In his seasonal debut on February 11, Gayego finished second to international turf campaigner War Artist in the Al Shindagha Sprint (UAE-III). Trainer Saeed bin Suroor said he expected the five-year-old son of Gilded Time to improve greatly off that effort.
Desert Party , who was unplaced in last year’s Kentucky Derby and then immediately sidelined when a bone chip was discovered in his left front ankle that required surgery, could make his first start since then in the $200,000 Burj Nahaar (UAE-III) on Super Thursday. Crisford said Desert Party and other Godolphin runners will be entered in races on both Super Thursday’s card and Friday’s "Meydan Masters" program featuring an international jockey competition. Decisions won’t be made on their actual starts until the potential fields are reviewed.
A son of Street Cry who won the Sanford Stakes (gr. II) as a juvenile, Desert Party captured last year’s UAE Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-III) and finished second to stablemate Regal Ransom in the UAE Derby.
Godolphin’s Skysurfers, undefeated in two career starts and an impressive winner of his Meydan debut on February 19, could join Desert Party in the Burj Nahaar, a 1,600-meter (about one mile) race on Tapeta.
A pair of other strong Meydan performers for Godolphin, Allybar and Global City, who have each won two races from two starts during the Dubai International Racing Carnival, will run on either the Super Thursday or the Meydan Masters programs, Crisford said.
Allybar, who has knocked off group I winners Presvis and Crowded House in his Meydan victories and looks like a Dubai World Cup contender, probably will run in Super Thursday’s $300,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (UAE-II) over the 2,000-meter (about 1 ¼ -mile) distance of the World Cup. A four-year-old by King’s Best, Allybar won the Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (UAE-III) on February 18 at 1,900 meters.
Global City, winner of two 1,200-meter (about six-furlong) handicaps, could run in the $200,000 Mahab al Shimaal (UAE-III), the 1,200-meter prep for the Dubai Golden Shaheen, on March 4.
Justenuffhumor, third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I) after reeling off six consecutive wins in the U.S. last year including two in grade II company, also is due to run on March 4 or 5 as a prelude to a possible Dubai World Cup program appearance. The $250,000 Jebel Hatta (UAE-II) at 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) on turf during Super Thursday is an option after the five-year-old Distorted Humor horse finished sixth in the Al Fahidi Fort (UAE-II) on Feb. 19. The Jebel Hatta is a prep for the $5-million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) at the same distance.