Marsh Side won the 2008 Canadian International at Woodbine.

Marsh Side won the 2008 Canadian International at Woodbine.

Michael Burns

Marsh Side Pointed to Sheema Classic

Trainer Neil Drysdale says Nad al Sheba racecourse should favor his grade I winner.

(from Dubai Racing Club)

Trainer Neil Drysdale has decided that the best target for grade I winner Marsh Side  would be the $5- million Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) at Nad al Sheba racecourse  March 28.

The 6-year-old son of Gone West possesses speed but has shown an ability to carry that quickness over a distance of ground, setting a course record for 1 3/4 miles.

“His style of racing would be a good fit,” Drysdale said. “He likes a long stretch and a bit of give in the ground. And the layout of the course (at Nad al Sheba) will suit him.”

Drysdale said the course is somewhat reminiscent of Woodbine’s sweeping grass layout, where Marsh Side scored the most significant victory of his career in the Canadian International Stakes (Can-I)  Oct. 4. That race is run over 1 1/2 miles, a distance virtually equal to the Dubai Sheema Classic’s 2,400 meters.

Bred and owned by Robert S. Evans, Marsh Side was to have tried elite international competition again in November, when he was sent to Tokyo for the Japan Cup (Jpn-I). However, once there, he developed a cough and fever and was scratched.

Since then, Marsh Side has only raced once, finishing seventh in the San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Park  Jan. 19. However, Drysdale said the horse had an excuse.

“The ground was too hard for him that day,” he explained.

Marsh Side was scratched from the San Luis Obispo Handicap (gr. IIT) Feb. 22 for the same reason. Instead, the dark bay worked over Santa Anita's turf course that day, drilling seven furlongs in 1:31. Marsh Side had four published workouts in February, beginning with a three-furlong breeze at Hollywood Park  Feb. 3 in :38.

Since Marsh Side does his best running from just off the pace, Drysdale said he expected him to be close to the lead in Dubai. He identified Hong Kong Cup (HK-I) winner and Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) runner-up Eagle Mountain as “the horse to beat” in the prospective Sheema Classic field.

Overall, Marsh Side has won five of 19 starts while earning $1,439,706.