Updated on 09/16/2011 7:03AM

Californians score in Dubai


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - The road to the Dubai winner's circle apparently begins in California. Four of the six Dubai World Cup winners on Saturday night at Nad Al Sheba - Street Cry, Caller One, Essence of Dubai, and Grey Memo - began their careers on the West Coast.

Caller One returned from a 3 1/2-month layoff to win the six-furlong, $2 million Golden Shaheen for the second straight year and reemerge as one of the world's top sprinters. He scored a head win over Echo Eddie, with no-excuse favorite Xtra Heat 3 1/2 lengths farther back in third. Men's Exclusive finished fourth; Bonapaw finished sixth.

The victory by 5-year-old Caller One was the second of the night for Stevens and the first since May for Caller One. Making his first start since December, Caller One pressed the pace, went into cruising mode two furlongs from home, then rekicked when Echo Eddie headed him him and bumped him from the inside. "It actually made him mad," Stevens said. "He put his head down and decided he wasn't going to get beat."

Jim Chapman, training the horse in Dubai for his son James Chapman, said Caller One would get a long break, and have one race this fall as a prep for the Breeders' Cup Sprint. "We want to keep coming back to Dubai as long as we can," Chapman said. Caller One ran six furlongs in 1:09.91, the slowest running since the Golden Shaheen became a seven-figure race two years ago. The Nad Al Sheba track played slow Saturday night.

UAE Derby

Godolphin will be Kentucky Derby-bound this spring after two of their 3-year-olds, Essence of Dubai and Ibn Al Haitham, finished first and third in the $2 million UAE Derby. The Godolphin colts are trained by Saeed bin Suroor, but their names should be familiar when they race at Churchill Downs in May.

Essence of Dubai and Ibn Al Haitham were premier 2-year-olds last season in the U.S. - Essence of Dubai won the Grade 2 Norfolk while trained in California by Eoin Harty. Sent to Dubai following up-the-track finishes in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, both colts will hit the Kentucky Derby with momentum.

A high-strung colt who was slightly hot in the paddock, Essence of Dubai was purposely rated by Frankie Dettori, rallied wide from last, collared California shipper Total Impact in deep stretch, and drew off by a half-length. Total Impact finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of Ibn Al Haitham, who was starting for the first time since the Breeders' Cup. Janadel, who campaigned in the U.S. last year, finished 12th.

The time of the 1 1/4-mile UAE Derby was 2:02.90 (older horses ran 1.72 seconds faster in the World Cup). Essence of Dubai will enter the Kentucky Derby as the only starter with a win at 1 1/4 miles. "He'll definitely stay, [whether] he's good enough, that's another matter," Dettori said. "He's not a flashy one that wins by many lengths, but he does what you ask him to."

Ibn Al Haitham, though still a maiden, may have most room to improve. A recent comeback was scrapped because of a skin condition, making the Derby his first start since October.

Dubai Duty Free

Breeders' Cup Mile winner Val Royal was the night's biggest disappointment, finishing fifth in the $2 million Dubai Duty Free won by the 5-year-old French mare Terre a Terre. Jockey Jose Valdivia offered no excuses for Val Royal - "I got to the eighth pole and just kind of flattened out" - but the course condition may have played a factor. Both turf races were won by horses who raced close to the rail, while horses who rallied wide floundered. Del Mar Show, who Jerry Bailey said was not relaxed and could not find cover, lost his run into the lane and finished 10th.

The winner, based in France, was making her first start since December. She was ridden by Christophe Soumillon to the three-quarter-length victory over Noverre. Hoeberg finished third. Eighteen months ago a U.S. bloodstock agent had completed a deal that would have sent Terra a Terre to the U.S., but she did not pass a veterinary inspection.

Godolphin Mile

Grey Memo's 80-year-old trainer Warren Stute was not sure what to make of a trip to the Middle East. "I was thinking a small track in the desert, but this place is first-class," Stute said minutes before giving Gary Stevens a leg up on Grey Memo in the Grade 2, $1 million Godolphin Mile. Minutes later, Stute met Stevens in the winner's enclosure, after Grey Memo, a homebred son of Memo, rolled to an impressive 3 1/2-length win over Skoozi in the first Thoroughbred race on the World Cup card.

Grey Memo rallied from last, hit the front at the furlong marker, and turned the Godolphin Mile into a romp, finishing in 1:36.69. Curule finished a head back in third. Two other U.S. starters were out of the money - Peeping Tom finished sixth; Blade Prospector finished eighth.

Grey Memo, by the $8,500 California sire Memo, scored his seventh win from 34 starts, and the $1.2 million he earned more than tripled his bankroll to over $1.7 million. The win was another advertisement for his sire, who stands at Pat Thompson's Ridgely Farm. She said "[Memo] stands for $8,500, but I imagine after this it will be a little higher." Grey Memo is owned by Ridgely Farm, Ron Manzani and Russ Sarno.

Sheema Classic

Nayef, a Group 1 winner last season in England and the class of the $2 million Dubai Sheema Classic, scored an impressive two-length victory in the 1 1/2-mile turf race. Ridden by Richard Hills and owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Nayef burst to the front with 400 meters to run and was never threatened. Hong Kong shipper Helen Vitality finished second; German shipper Boreal was a nose back in third. Tobougg, second favorite by English bookmakers, finished last and was pulled up after the race with an undetermined injury. The winner is trained by Mark Tregoning.