(Edited Dubai Racing Club press release)
Standing at the backstretch rail the morning of March 24 at Nad al Sheba in Dubai, assistant trainer Trish McLaughlin watched Albertus Maximus virtually soar past her while pulling against exercise rider Rob Massey in an impressive show of contained strength and speed.
“He’s happy—he just loves to train,” McLaughlin said with a smile. “It’s been another perfect morning.”
Albertus Maximus galloped about 1½ miles for the second consecutive day, and McLaughlin’s boss and brother-in-law, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, plans only more gallops before the March 28 Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (UAE-I). Kiaran McLaughlin is scheduled to be at Nad al Sheba March 25.
Massey said, “I couldn’t be happier” with how Albertus Maximus has been performing his morning exercise.
“He’s very professional—he just wants to get on with his job,” Massey continued. “He can be a little aggressive, but he’s settled in very well here. And if he wasn’t a little aggressive now, I’d be concerned.”
A native of England, Massey has been working Albertus Maximus since late last year after Sheikh Hamdan acquired the 5-year-old son of Albert the Great from breeders Brandon and Marianne Chase, for whom he had won the TVG Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile while being trained by Vladimir Cerin.
“He’s taken to Kiaran’s training program very well,” Massey said. “And he’s as well as we’ve ever had him right now.”
Rick Nichols, vice president and general manager of Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Farm in Lexington, visited Albertus Maximus in the quarantine barn area March 24 and said he was very pleased with the horse’s condition. Nichols noted there are some similarities between Albertus Maximus and Sheikh Hamdan’s 2007 Dubai World Cup winner Invasor.
“He’s got a lot of the same personality traits,” Nichols said. “He’s very kind to be around and nothing bothers him.”
Nichols added that he also is keenly interested in Sheikh Hamdan’s other Dubai World Cup entrant, Snaafy, as the 5-year-old son of Kingmambo was foaled at Shadwell Farm. Snaafy won the Intidab Burj Nahaar (UAE-III) March 5 for Dubai-based trainer Musabah Al Muhairi.
A day after he pleased assistant trainer Michelle Nevin with an easy five-furlong workout, Arson Squad just walked in the quarantine barn area March 24. The 6-year-old gelding by Brahms emerged from the drill in good shape and with a good attitude.
“He’s happy, and he’s been out there picking at some grass,” Nevin said.
Owned by Jay Em Ess Stable, Arson Squad won last year’s Meadowlands Cup Handicap (gr. II) over fellow Dubai World Cup entrant Anak Nakal. Fourth in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) behind winner and World Cup favorite Albertus Maximus Jan. 31, Arson Squad bled a little that day, but has not had a problem with bleeding in his training since then, trainer Rick Dutrow said.
Dutrow will not be able to make the trip to Dubai to saddle Arson Squad.
Last year’s Dubai World Cup runner-up Asiatic Boy was in action on the Tapeta training track at Nad Al Sheba March 24. Second to Curlin in the World Cup, after having won the S & M Al Naboodah Group U.A.E. Derby (UAE-II) in 2007, Asiatic Boy returns for a third World Cup run. The 5-year-old enters the race on the back of a victory in the Invasor Al Maktoum Challenge-Round 3 (UAE-II), over the same dirt course and distance as the showpiece race under regular rider Johnny Murtagh.
“That was a big run last year and Curlin (the winner) was exceptional so we had to be happy with second,” said Asiatic Boy’s trainer Mike De Kock. “His preparation has gone well this time and all been based around Saturday night. We have to hope he will go very close.”
De Kock’s second intended runner, Honour Devil, will miss the race with a trapped epiglottis and will undergo surgery.
Asiatic Boy’s World Cup rivals will include Well Armed, who was a neck away in third last year. Well Armed walked the shed row March 24 following his half-mile work in :49 March 23. He is scheduled to return to the track March 25.
Anak Nakal galloped March 24 over the main dirt track as he continues his preparations for the World Cup. Later in the morning, Tim Poole, assistant to trainer Nick Zito, accompanied Dubai Racing Club’s Jim Cornes through a “dress rehearsal” March 28. Poole wanted to see the saddling enclosure and make sure that he and his staff are aware of what awaits them on Dubai World Cup Day.
“I don’t want to be walking this way, and the rest of the horses are going the other way,” Poole said.
Poole said if he had his choice, he would like a post position that places Anak Nakal in the 5, 6, or 7 stall.
“Although, I’m not sure the post will make a whole lot of difference to him,” said Poole of the deep closer.
Another Dubai World Cup contender, Casino Drive, who was bred in the United States, but has a Japanese owner and trainer and is based in Japan, cantered for 2,000 meters on the main track March 24. His trainer, Kazuo Fujisawa, is one of the more internationally-minded trainers in Japan, and his 4-year-old colt won the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park in his second career start last May.
However, Casino Drive was scratched from the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) when a stone bruise on a left hind hoof was re-aggravated. In the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), he faded to finish last after making the early running.
Casino Drive appears to have come into his own in his last two races with a win and a second-place finish.
Team Casino Drive’s racing manager, Nobutaka Tada, said: “He has completed the last 200 meters in 15 seconds. He is in good condition. The quality of the dirt at Nad Al Sheba is similar to the Belmont Park track where our horse spent a long time last year. It is very cushioned. Casino Drive seems to have no problem running on the surface.”
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