Eye in Dubai
by Jim Cornes
MEYDAN, all-weather track, Jan. 30-31
INTERACTION (ARG)—Argentina’s reigning Horse of the Year, now 5 by North American standards, Interaction has progressed well in his recent track appearances for French trainer Pascal Bary. Prepping for his Dubai International Racing Carnival debut this week, he has strung together some very strong canters, and he clipped off a series of 200-meter intervals in :12 each on Jan. 31.
With the same trainer and exercise rider as last year’s Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) winner Gloria de Campeao (BRZ), Interaction has stirred a sense of déjà vu in his morning drills. Although he is unraced since September, when he was unplaced at Longchamp in his only effort outside Argentina, I believe this horse will produce a solid effort in his next race; he has been entered in the Feb. 3 Al Maktoum Challenge Round II (UAE-III) at 1,900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles) on Meydan’s all-weather track and will be ridden for the first time by French jockey Christophe Lemaire. A son of Easing Along, Interaction has won half of his 10 starts and also ranked as Argentina’s champion 3-year-old male, grass horse and stayer of 2010.
SHIMMERING MOMENT (USA)—This 4-year-old Afleet Alex filly conditioned by Irish trainer James Hartnett was shipped from her International Stables quarantine base to Meydan for paddock schooling prior to the first race on Jan. 27. A week earlier, Shimmering Moment had become sweaty and agitated in the paddock prior to her first race in Dubai, a handicap against males in which she wore blinkers, and lost any chance for a good run, eventually finishing 14th. While schooling, she handled herself like a lady when not equipped with blinkers, taking in the sights and sounds like a professional.
Hartnett said he also plans to remove the blinkers for her next run on Feb. 3; she has been entered against tough company in a 2,000-meter handicap on turf that also has drawn the likes of Godolphin’s group I winner Buzzword and American grade II winner Florentino. In her gallop on the all-weather track, Shimmering Moment displayed a comfortable, rhythmic stride with her ears pricked throughout, impressing observers. If she can handle herself prior to the race, we likely will see a stronger and improved effort from this filly, who won the Carlingford Stakes at Dundalk in November. Bred by Dapple Bloodstock and Gryphon Investments in Kentucky, Shimmering Moment was purchased by the BBA Ireland for $280,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September sale and races for Mark Gittins. She is a half sister to stakes-placed Garifine, who set an Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. record when sold for $1.8 million as a juvenile in 2006.
CROWDED HOUSE (GB)—With California-based trainer Ben Cecil in attendance, Crowded House made his first on-track appearance since his arrival in Dubai from Santa Anita Park on Jan. 28. Looking extremely fit, the five-year-old English Group I winner had a steady one-mile jog over the Tapeta surface and picked up the pace in a one-mile gallop to finish like a horse happy to be back in Dubai. He has come ready to run and was entered for a very competitive edition of the Al Maktoum Challenge Round II (UAE-III) on Feb. 3 that has also drawn 2010 Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) winner Al Shemali, Team Valor International’s and Gary Barber’s 2009 Goodwood Stakes (gr. I) winner Gitano Hernando and South African group I winner Bold Silvano.
In 2010, Crowded House made three starts at the Carnival while trained by Brian Meehan, finishing second in both the Al Rashidiya (UAE-III) and the Maktoum Challenge Round II, the latter against Godolphin’s Allybar, who finished third in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I). Crowded House was ninth in the World Cup, but only three lengths behind winner Gloria de Campeao (BRZ). In August, Crowded House finished second in the Pacific Classic Stakes (gr. I) to fellow Dubai World Cup repeat contender Richard's Kid but the son of Rainbow Quest hasn’t raced since October.
MEYDAN main turf course, Jan. 31
LORD OF THE STARS (USA)—This David Simcock-trained 3-year-old son of Speightstown out of a half sister to multiple grade I winner Tout Charmant worked 1,200 meters (about six furlongs) with his stablemate Ahlaain (USA), an English stakes-placed son of Bernstein. Last seen finishing seventh in the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial on the Tapeta surface at Meydan on Jan. 20, Lord of the Stars steadily accelerated during the work, drawing away by two lengths on the turn (markers/dogs out 22 meters). He finished his last 400 meters in :23.09 with good energy on the firm ground.
Entered with Ahlaain for the 1,400-meter (about seven-furlong) Meydan Classic Trial on turf on Feb. 3, Lord of the Stars should improve from his initial race and the surface change. The colt, sold as a weanling at Keeneland for $105,000 and bought by Simcock for $87,491 at the Doncaster November horses in training sale, races for Ahmad Al Shaikh, the top media advisor to Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.