02/13/2009 12:00AM

Desert Party scores as Vineyard Haven fades


Desert Party moved past Vineyard Haven in Godolphin's Kentucky Derby plans at Nad Al Sheba on Thursday night as he thrashed the Champagne Stakes winner in the UAE 2000 Guineas, the first of three Derby preps that will be run in Dubai this winter.

A one-mile Group 3 contest worth $250,000, the Guineas was supposed to be Vineyard Haven's reintroduction to the winner's circle following a four-month vacation since his Champagne victory. But his Saeed bin Suroor-trained stablemate Desert Party stole the show, drawing clear for a 4 3/4-length victory over a third Godolphin entrant, Regal Ransom.

Vineyard Haven, a bit wide in third or fourth into the stretch, faded into fourth, beaten 12 lengths by the winner, who was clocked in 1:37.62, the slowest time for the race in the last four years.

Frankie Dettori gave Desert Party a ground-saving ride along the rail, angling him out as they entered the stretch, where Regal Ransom took the lead from eventual third-place finisher Redding Colliery. Desert Party found his best stride approaching the eighth pole and drew clear for the victory. The winner of the six-furlong Sanford Stakes - in which Vineyard Haven was third at Saratoga last summer - Desert Party next finished sixth behind Vineyard Haven in the one-mile Champagne at Belmont Park last October. A Godolphin trainee since his first-out maiden score on the Arlington Park Polytrack in June, Desert Party beat Regal Ransom in a seven-furlong allowance at Nad Al Sheba on Jan. 22. He has been much improved since arriving in Dubai in November, while Vineyard Haven appears to be going in the opposite direction.

A son of Street Cry, Desert Party will go next in the 1 1/8-mile UAE Derby on Dubai World Cup night, March 28, according to Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford.

"We're really pleased with the way Desert Party ran tonight," Crisford said, "but we're not so pleased about Vineyard Haven. Truth to tell, Vineyard Haven has had a rough time of it here this winter. We knew he was going to need the race."

Crisford also said that one or another of Godolphin's seven Triple Crown nominees might run in a Kentucky Derby prep in the United States.

"They will be nominated for the big Derby trials in the States," he said. "Midshipman, who will run in the Al Bastakiya, a 1 1/8-mile listed race here on March 5, could also run in something like the Blue Grass Stakes, but no decision will be made until much later."

* Earlier, Godolphin trainee City Style did his best imitation of Goldikova in sprinting clear for a 2 3/4-length victory in a 6 1/2-furlong turf allowance race. It was his first start since finishing fourth to Donativum in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf when trained by Cheryl Asmussen.