Edited Dubai Racing Club Report
Not only will American champion Indian Blessing have to defeat males for the first time in her career if she is to win the Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I), she will have to overcome the far outside post in the field of 12 in her initial try at a straightaway 1,200 meters (about 6 furlongs).
But the post will not be a deterrent in the view of assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes.
“That’s fine,” Barnes said without a trace of concern in his voice. “(Trainer) Bob (Baffert) said she’ll probably just break and relax a little bit out there.”
Although Indian Blessing typically has flashed speed in her races, Barnes was not ready to publicly commit where she might be placed in the early going of the race, which also features European champion sprinter Marchand d'Or, American grade I winner Black Seventeen, Godolphin’s Diabolical and Al Shindagha Sprint winner Big City Man.
“I would think they will sort themselves out in the first quarter mile; I’m not sure where she’ll be sitting,” he said. “We’ll see how the race develops, but she’ll be fine.”
Jockey Edgar Prado will ride Indian Blessing for the first time as her regular pilot, John Velazquez, did not make the trip to Dubai. Prado knows how to win the Dubai Golden Shaheen after riding 2008 victor Benny the Bull.
Barnes said Indian Blessing galloped about 1 3/8 miles (about 2,200 meters) on Thursday morning under Janell Gruss, skipping over the dirt surface at Nad Al Sheba with ease.
Black Seventeen made it back to the track Thursday for a gallop, following a day of no track activity. Trainer and co-owner Brian Koriner said the 5-year-old remains on target for the $2 million dash - even though the horse missed a scheduled work on Tuesday after showing signs of sluggishness and lethargy.
Without a breeze in Dubai, it will mean Black Seventeen will not have worked since March 14 at Santa Anita, a few days before making the trip to the Middle East. It’s not an ideal situation, but Koriner has to play the hand he is dealt.
“I was happy he got back to the track,” Koriner said after Thursday’s gallop.
Colleen Hartford, Black Seventeen’s exercise rider, said her mount felt spry. “He’s back to himself,” she said “We galloped a mile and a half. As usual, he was very interested in the pony that was standing right at the gap in front of us when we came on the track.”
During the course of the week, Black Seventeen has been keen for the outriders’ ponies. He has shown his interest by rearing up on his hind legs and lunging toward the unsuspecting lead horses.
“I asked the outrider to move away from the gap today, but he didn’t do it right away, but when my horse got up on his hind legs, he moved along quickly,” Hartford said.
Most would identify Big City Man as Jerry Barton’s best chance of the night in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. A dual course and distance winner, he was narrowly beaten in the Mahab Al Shimaal on Super Thursday. The trainer was not overly disappointed but is not certain a low draw in two is ideal on Saturday.
He said: “That was a good run last time as I am certain he will have improved from it. It is a bit of a worry that most of the early pace appears to be drawn high though but it is not a maximum field so perhaps they will race in one group.
“He is fit and well and I think derived a lot of benefit from that last run."
Bamboo Ere was walked around the stable area and did not come out on the main track this morning. The trainer of the 6-year-old horse, Akio Adachi, was very happy with the horse’s condition.
The handler said: “We’ll see how the weather and the track conditions are tomorrow morning. He’s sometimes stiffens up after he has breezed, but his stride was very fluid this morning, and that is good.
“He’s eating up very well and sweats a lot. It is a good sign of his well being. He lost for 10 kilos since he arrived but that’s not a big concern at all. We have had an ideal preparation for Saturday’s race.”