03/26/2010 11:32AM

Meydan: Spanish Moon by a nose?


Nose losses have been commonplace in Spanish Moon's career in the last 18 months. He was beaten by that margin in the 2008 Arc Trial at Newbury, England, the $5 million Sheema Classic in Dubai last year and the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase in December. He does win some close ones, including the minor August Stakes at Windor, England in 2008.

Saturday, Spanish Moon is back in the Sheema Classic on Saturday, seeking his first stakes win since the Group 2 Prix Foy in France last September. Last fall, Spanish Moon finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita, three lengths behind stablemate Conduit.

Trained in England by Sir Michael Stoute, Spanish Moon had his final significant preparation on Friday, schooling in the starting gate at Meydan racecourse without incident. "He was a little bit difficult last year, and the starter wanted to have another look at him," Stoute said.

Stoute does not have a runner in Saturday's $10 million Dubai World Cup, but his powerful stable has well-respected contenders in the two $5 million races. Aside from Spanish Moon, Stoute starts Confront, who won three consecutive stakes in England last year, in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free.

Like Spanish Moon, Confront has not started since the major races in Hong Kong in December, finishing sixth, beaten two lengths, in the $2 million Hong Kong Mile as a 33-1 outsider. Friday morning, Stoute tipped Confront as a contender.

"I think he's a little better than it appears," he said. "He was badly drawn in Hong Kong and is a bit better than that. We're hoping that both horses can make it into the frame."

Stoute's runners have American challengers. The speedy Presious Passion runs in the Sheema Classic, having won the Group 2 Mac Diarmida Stakes at Gulfstream Park last month. In the Duty Free, Courageous Cat, The Usual Q.T., and Take the Points can run well, if they duplicate their best recent efforts.