01/21/2015 4:33PM

De Kock has trio of contenders for Al Fahidi Fort


Ace South African trainer Mike de Kock has a three-headed monster ready to attack Thursday night at Meydan in the featured sixth race, the Group 2, $250,000 Al Fahidi Fort over about seven furlongs on turf.

The de Kock-trained winner of the 2014 Al Fahidi Fort, Anaerobio, is back for a repeat bid Thursday, and de Kock also sends out the South African import Red Ray for his Dubai debut. De Kock’s third horse is Zahee, whose form is somewhat clouded by a poor run last out over the new Meydan dirt track.

Anaerobio, an 8-year-old Argentine-bred, won this race last year over Mshawish, who has captured back-to-back turf stakes in Florida this winter for trainer Todd Pletcher. His Al Fahidi Fort victory a year ago came in his second run of the winter, where Thursday’s start will be his first since finishing a solid fifth of 13 in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free on March 29.

Red Ray last raced in May, and besides the layoff, has a hemisphere change with which to cope, having done all his previous racing in South Africa for trainer Joey Ramsden. Placed in multiple Group 1 events, Red Ray appears to suit the long-sprint-distance of the Al Fahidi Fort – provided he is ready.

“Red Ray has a big reputation and he’s showed us his talent in work,” de Kock said on his website. “He steps into international Group 2 company after being shipped from South Africa and all our new arrivals have been short of their best, but if he reproduces his work he will contest the finish, we are hoping for a big run.”

Zahee is not without hope, either. His last turf start, going this distance at Meydan last year, produced a third-place finish in front of Anaerobio.

Safety Check, trained by Charlie Appleby for Godolphin, was a sharp seven-furlong turf handicap winner on Jan. 8, but his previous 17 starts failed to produced back-to-back wins, and Safety Check might be hard pressed to reproduce his form while up in class.

The Al Fahidi Fort goes off at 12:40 p.m. Eastern. All Thoroughbred races at Meydan are available for wagering at DRF Bets. First post for the card is 9:45a.m.

Race 4, the $120,000 Gulf News Classifieds at about nine furlongs on turf, includes the William Haggas-trained Our Channel, who shipped from England to finish second last summer at Arlington to the decent colt Divine Oath.