03/18/2004 12:00AM

Cajun Beat heads U.S. invaders


Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Cajun Beat had his first outing on Thursday morning on the Nad Al Sheba track, where he will vie for favoritism in the Dubai Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup Night next Saturday.

A 4-year-old son of Grand Slam, Cajun Beat was among the first of the 14 American invaders to the Emirates Racing Association's $15 million extravaganza to stretch his legs at Nad Al Sheba, and trainer Steve Margolis could not have been more pleased after watching him gallop.

"Everything is going fine and we are really happy," he said. "Cajun Beat shipped here well and this is our first morning out on the main track. The plan is to work him half a mile under the lights on Monday evening."

Cajun Beat will be seeking revenge in the $2 million Golden Shaheen from the Todd Pletcher-trained Alke, who beat him in the Deputy Minister Handicap at Gulfstream on Feb. 7. That pair will be joined in the straight six-furlong sprint by fellow Americans Our New Recruit, Tsigane, and Tour of the Cat.

The Golden Shaheen has been won by Americans in three of the last four years, with Big Jag winning in 2000 and Caller One scoring in 2001 and 2002. Unless Godolphin's defending champ State City or Hong Kong invader Multidandy can spring an upset, the U.S. contingent looks set for a fourth victory in five years.

Dubai World Cup favorite Pleasantly Perfect, Japan Cup Dirt winner Fleetstreet Dancer, and Donn Handicap winner Medaglia d'Oro all galloped at Nad Al Sheba on Thursday. Strub Stakes winner Domestic Dispute cantered on the training track adjacent to the Nad Al Sheba quarantine center. The American quartet will have South Africa's course specialist Victory Moon to beat in the $6 million World Cup, which is run over 1 1/4 miles.

Two Americans will line up for the Grade 2, $1 million Godolphin Mile on dirt. Bob Baffert, who has won two World Cups, will send out During, while Doug O'Neill will saddle Excessivepleasure. Last year's winner and third-place finisher, Firebreak and Estimraar, both return in the Godolphin Mile.

Hard Buck is the lone American challenger in the 1 1/2-mile Dubai Sheema Classic. Ninth in the UAE Derby last year, Hard Buck is coming off a victory in the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap. He may have his hands full next Saturday with French Group 1 winner Fair Mix, recent winner of the Dubai City of Gold.

Neil Drysdale trains the last two American invaders. Sarafan will test the redoubtable French mare Bright Sky in the 1 1/8-mile Dubai Duty Free, while the Argentine-bred From the Sky runs in the UAE Derby.