Vineyard Haven, winner of the 2008 Hopeful Stakes, is training in Dubai. <br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Vineyard Haven, winner of the 2008 Hopeful Stakes, is training in Dubai.
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Dubai Doings: 3-Year-Olds All On Target

Midshipman  and Vineyard Haven, the two leading juveniles of 2008, are both making excellent progress in Dubai and are nearing their 3-year-old debuts, said Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford, who added that it’s possible one of them will return to the U.S. to prep for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).


“They’re both doing well,” Crisford said. “Midshipman is going to run in early March and then we’ll make a proper long-term plan with him once we get him out on the racetrack. We haven’t finalized anything yet as to which race he’ll run in, but there is a race on March 5 that we’re looking at. We’ve given him a little break since he arrived here to make the transition and now he’s back in full swing. That was a pretty hard run he had in the Breeders’ Cup, and then he traveled here, so we wanted to give him some time. Vineyard Haven didn’t run in the Breeders’ Cup, so he was a lot fresher when he arrived here and we started a lot earlier with him. Midshipman actually breezed this morning and had a nice easy work. He’s in good shape and is progressing well. They’re very happy with him.


“Vineyard Haven is a possibility for next week’s UAE 2,000 Guineas. He’s going to be a little bit rusty for sure, because he hasn’t run in a long time and he’s had a pretty quiet introduction to his campaign out here. But he’s doing well mentally and physically and whatever he does in the Guineas he’s sure to improve a lot off that. That race is just to start him off; he has the UAE Derby as the longer target, as might Midshipman. But we’ll cross those bridges when we get to them.


“Nothing has been ruled in or ruled out yet. Come March, we’ll decide which horses are going to be running in the UAE Derby; maybe one will come back and run in a prep in America. That is absolutely an option. Right now, everything is open for all eventualities.”


Godolphin naturally was pleased with the one-two finish of Desert Party  and Regal Ransom in a seven-furlong race Jan. 22, but the main question with both colts is how far they want to go.


“Both could easily turn up next Thursday in the Guineas as well,” Crisford said. “We’ll have a look at them and see what the situation is then. The big question mark with them obviously is their optimum distance as we get farther into the campaign.”


Crisford said that Jose Adan, another private purchase, is in full training and is scheduled to run “fairly soon.” Crisford added that they might run him on the turf to get him started. “He’s in the Guineas and he’s in turf races, so all options are open for him,” he said.


“I don’t think we’ll be racing more than three horses in the Guineas, so he could debut on the turf. The trip might be too short for him at 6 1/2 furlongs; he’s going to want a longer distance. The main goal is to get them all back on the track now.


“The important thing is that they’re all sound and healthy, touch wood. The first race for Midshipman and Vineyard Haven is not the be-all, end-all. We’re not training them to be wound up and ready to give their maximum performance first time out, especially Vineyard Haven.”


Crisford admits the 3-year-olds are at a disadvantage in Dubai having to run against “older” horses from the southern hemisphere.


“In a perfect world we wouldn’t have to do it, because it does put us at a disadvantage,” Crisford said. “Running against physically more mature horses, you’d rather not be in that situation, especially with a young horse whose just starting off his campaign. But those are the rules of racing here, and we have to put up with it. If there is a plus, it does season them mentally running against older horses, but it’s a hard thing for a 3-year-old to do.”