Zayat Stables’ Massive Drama, third in two graded stakes in California this year, will detour off the traditional Triple Crown trail to take on a tough group of older Southern Hemisphere-breds in the $2-million UAE Derby (UAE-II) on the March 29 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) program.
New trainer Dale Romans, who received the son of Kafwain when owner Ahmed Zayat transferred him from Bob Baffert’s California barn in February, said Zayat wanted to keep his plethora of 3-year-old colts on different paths.
“He just wanted to keep them all separated as much as possible,” Romans said March 6, “and he thought he’d like to take one over there (to Dubai), and Massive Drama was the one who made the most sense. He’s doing good and the race is worth a lot of money, and it just makes sense to go over and give it a shot. Why not?”
If all goes as planned, Massive Drama would become only the second American-based Triple Crown contender to try the UAE Derby. California-based trainer Bill Currin saddled Outta Here to finish fourth in the 2003 edition of the race, which was run at 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles). The UAE Derby now is conducted at 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles).
Steve Haskin's Derby Dozen
Though Godolphin has used the race as a springboard for many of its colts trained for part of the year in Dubai and sent to America, including 2006 winner Discreet Cat, and some American trainers have sent Southern Hemisphere-breds to the race, Massive Drama is on an unusual mission.
A large, strong horse in the mold of his big-bodied sire, Massive Drama should be able to hold his own against the older Southern Hemisphere-breds, said Romans, who has been pleased with his training.
“He came to me in good shape and he’s a very nice horse to be around,” Romans said. “He has trained good and he has run good all year.”
Romans knows how to win in Dubai, having sent out Roses in May to capture the $6-million World Cup for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey in 2005. While he is looking forward to returning to the United Arab Emirates, he said he is going under one condition.
“I don’t want to go back unless I think I can win,” he said.
Massive Drama won his first start as a juvenile last year and then scored in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III) before finishing the season with a third to Into Mischief and Colonel John in the CashCall Futurity (gr. I). This year, he was third in El Gato Malo’s San Rafael Stakes (gr. III) and in Georgie Boy’s San Vicente Stakes (gr. II).
Among the horses he is expected to face in Dubai are Argentine-bred Honour Devil, winner of two races during the Dubai International Racing Carnival for trainer Mike de Kock, including the UAE Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-III); South African-bred Royal Vintage, who on March 6 avenged his second in the UAE Two Thousand Guineas by defeating stablemate Honour Devil by a head in the second jewel of the UAE Triple Crown, the Al Bastakiya; and Rock Ascot, a three-time stakes winner in his native Uruguay.