01/22/2009 12:00AM

Big City Man remains razor sharp


Big City Man, who parlayed a pair of 2007 stakes victories at Calder with a win at Nad Al Sheba two weeks ago, captured the Group 3, $200,000 Al Shindagha Sprint on Thursday, establishing himself as the local favorite for the Dubai Golden Shaheen on March 28.

Ridden by Jose Verenzuela, Big City Man sat just behind the leaders before taking command at the five-sixteeenths pole and was not hard used in holding off last year's Golden Shaheen third-place finisher Star Crowned by three-quarters of a length. It was another 6 1/4 lengths farther back to Diana's Choice.

Another ex-American, Force Freeze, was fifth, while Barbecue Eddie, fourth in last year's Golden Shaheen for trainer Brian Koriner, struggled home ninth in his first start for Doug Watson, 24 3/4 lengths behind the winner.

Bought privately by Prince Sultan Mohammed Saud Al Kabeer of Saudi Arabia after having won the Criterium Stakes and the Dr. Fager Stakes at Calder in the summer of 2007, the 4-year-old Big City Man had been out of action for 17 months until he won a six-furlong allowance at Nad Al Sheba on Jan. 8 for the Saudi-based American trainer Jerry Barton. His winning time of 1:10.31 on Thursday was .58 of a second faster than what he recorded in that victory two weeks ago.

* Desert Party boosted Godolphin's 3-year-old hopes when he captured a 16-runner dirt allowance by a half-length over stablemate Regal Ransom, traveling the seven furlongs under Frankie Dettori in 1:24.43. Desert Party had won last July's Sanford Stakes at Saratoga. Regal Ransom had won his maiden at Saratoga. Both are now candidates for the UAE 2000 Guineas on Feb. 12 when they could clash again with an even more accomplished pair of Godolphin runners in Vineyard Haven, who beat Desert Party into sixth in the Hopeful Stakes, and Midshipman, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner who finished 10 lengths in front of Regal Ransom when second in Santa Anita's Norfolk Stakes.

* The combination of an eight-month layoff and handicap conditions that had him spotting seven rivals six to 15 pounds proved too much for Jay Peg to overcome in a $175,000 turf handicap. Last year's Dubai Duty Free winner faded through the stretch to finish fourth, 15 1/4 lengths behind Gladiatorus, who was timed in 1:29.35 for the 7o1/2 furlongs, a distance at least a furlong short of Jay Peg's best. Despite the subpar effort, Jay Peg still has this year's Dubai Duty Free on his agenda.