Dubawi lone 3YO in small but distinguished QE II field.

Dubawi lone 3YO in small but distinguished QE II field.


Dubawi Heads Small Field in Queen Elizabeth II

by Mary Schweitzer
Although it has drawn only six entrants, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Eng-I) at Newmarket Saturday is overflowing with talent. The lone 3-year-old, Dubawi, leads a quality field.

The Godolphin color bearer is from the lone crop of foals from Sheikh Mohammed's champion, Dubai Millennium, who died in 2001. The bay colt has developed into a formidable miler, having annexed the 8-furlong Prix Jacques Le Marois (Fr-I) at Deauville in his last start.

Earlier in the racing season, Dubawi won the Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) and was a respectable third in the Vodafone Epsom Derby (Eng-I). Should Dubawi win Saturday, he would have to be considered the main threat to the U.S.-based Leroidesanimaux in the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT). Frankie Dettori has the mount.

This group I prize will certainly not be given to Dubawi without a fight, however, since two champions stand in his way. Six-year-old Rakti brings an impressive resume into the race. Champion older horse in both England and Italy, he won this year's Juddmonte Lockinge Stakes (Eng-I), and was second in the Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I) to Valixir in June.

The son of Polish Precedent has also been quite a globetrotter, as you might expect from a horse owned by Gary Tanaka, who is not afraid to send his horses anywhere in the world to compete. Rakti started his career in Italy and has traveled throughout Europe and Asia during his career. The NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I) could be the next stop on his tour as well.

Possibly the horse with the most 'buzz' is the Australian champion Starcraft. Bred in New Zealand and champion in Australia, he is now based in Newmarket with his Italian trainer, Luca Cumani. He will again have the services of French jockey Christophe Lemaire. The 26-year-old Frenchman partnered Starcraft to an impressive win in the Prix du Moulin (Fr-I) three weeks ago at Longchamp. Until now, Lemaire is perhaps best known as the regular rider of champion Divine Proportions.

Most of the focus will certainly be on those three. However, there are three other hopefuls in the race, too. Sleeping Indian, a 4-year-old son of Indian Ridge, hails from the barn of John Gosden. He is a group III winner, and has been knocking on the door in some big races all season. It is only a matter of time before he garners a group I win. Gosden has warned, however, that the colt will not run if there is not sufficient rain.

Mullins Bay is Aidan O'Brien's representative. The lightly raced son of Machiavellian won the Strensall Stakes (Eng-III) in August, and will be ridden by Kieren Fallon. The 4-year-old will be making a big jump into group I company for the first time. However, he is certainly bred to improve with age. He is a half-brother to the high-class older horse Stagecraft, a multiple group II winner.

Blatant, a 6-year-old gelding, has been entered by Godolphin as a pacemaker for Dubawi. He will be trying to "follow in the hoof prints" of the 2001 winner of this race, Summoner. That horse, also representing Godolphin, pulled a 33-1 surprise when holding off the stable's first-string runner, Noverre, to win.