03/10/2012 2:12PM

Dubai: Capponi tops night of World Cup prep upsets at Meydan

Andrew Watkins
Capponi upsets Round 3 of the Maktoum Challenge on Saturday at Meydan.

Capponi, a mere handicapper, muddied the Dubai World Cup waters with a convincing victory in Round 3 of the Maktoum Challenge on Super Saturday at Meydan.

Ridden by United Arab Emirates native Ahmed Ajtebi for trainer Mahmood al Zarooni, Capponi, a 16-1 chance in North American betting, tracked the pace of Treble Jig, taking over the lead with more than a quarter-mile to run in the 2,000-meter race (about 1 1/4 miles). There was little change in the running order through the homestretch, with outside pace-pressing Silver Pond finishing a distant second and Prince Bishop, who broke slowly and rushed into contention before the first turn, a half-length back in third. Monterosso, making his first start since finishing third in the 2011 World Cup, checked in fourth in a potentially useful prep for the $10 million World Cup on March 31.

Capponi, a 5-year-old by Medicean, was timed in 2:03.05.

The U.S. World Cup contingent – Animal Kingdom, Game On Dude, and Royal Delta – should be heartened by the result. Capponi has been in good form this winter and likes to win, but his form is not top class. Before Saturday’s victory he had earned only about $200,000 despite winning six times, and the Group 1, $400,000 Maktoum Challenge marked his first try in a group stakes.

Former American runners Richard’s Kid and Fly Down checked in fifth and sixth. Mendip, winner of the Maktoum Challenge Round 2, could finish only 11th, while Bold Silvano, the favorite in U.S. betting, failed to improve in his second race after a year-plus layoff, struggling home 12th.

Master of Hounds gets a win

Front-runners ruled two slow-paced turf stakes Saturday, with Master of Hounds finally breaking through with the second victory of his career in the Group 1, $300,000 Jebel Hatta, and Mikhail Glinka scoring a big upset in the Group 2, $250,000 Dubai City of Gold.

Master of Hounds, a 4-year-old son of Kingmambo trained by Aidan O’Brien when he finished fifth in the 2011 Kentucky Derby, was thought to be a World Cup hopeful at the beginning of the Dubai Winter Carnival, but Mike de Kock, who took over the colt’s training after a private purchase last fall, believes Master of Hounds prefers turf.

Third to his stablemate Viscount Nelson in the Feb. 16 Al Fahidi Fort, Master of Hounds was guided straight to the lead by jockey Kevin Shea after breaking from post 14 in the 1,800-meter (about 1 1/8 miles) Jebel Hatta. The first 400 meters went in a dawdling 27.40 seconds and Master of Hounds got the jump on 13 rivals, kicking clear in upper stretch and holding off City Style by three-quarters of a length. Third-place Mutahadee, another de Kock-trainee, was the only one to gain much ground, rallying strongly after racing in 12th into the turn. Winning time over “good” going was 1:51.96.

Mikhail Glinka’s victory in the 2,410-meter (about 1 1/2 miles) City of Gold was harder to forecast. Trained by Herman Brown for Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov, Mikhail Glinka, another former O’Brien trainee, entered on a 13-race losing streak dating to June 2010. But Royston Ffrench put him on an easy lead from post 1 and Mikhail Glinka never was threatened, with another longshot, Cavalryman, a half-length better than Songcraft and Campanaologist, who dead-heated for third.

Regally Ready runs 13th

American invader Regally Ready beat just two horses in the $175,000 Meydan Sprint, finishing 13th as 7-year-old mare Invincible Ash came through along the rail under Jamie Spencer to win the prep for the Al Quoz Sprint on World Cup night.

Regally Ready was prominent near the inside for about a furlong but weakened steadily thereafter. Sole Power, covered up for most of the trip, rallied strongly on the far outside but was nipped by Invincible Ash, with Nocturnal Affair third. Race favorite Shimran was caught wide on both turns and finished a lackluster eighth.

◗ Musir, the biggest favorite on the night, failed to deliver in the in the Group 3 Burj Nahaar over about one mile on Tapeta, finishing a one-paced third as Godolphin’s African Story dashed to victory under Frankie Dettori. Snaafy, a rank outsider, finished second, beaten four lengths while a nose better than Musir. African Story is a 5-year-old Pivotal gelding trained by Saeed bin Suroor.

◗ Krypton Factor and Mickdaam both scored decisive victories in their respective preps for World Cup night races. Krypton Factor was eased under the wire a 2 1/2-length winner over Hitchens in the Group 3, $200,000 Mahab al Shimaal, a prep for the Group 1 Golden Shaheen, while Mickdaam, another de Kock-trained winner, came through along the inside to beat Surfer by 2 1/2 lengths in the $200,000 Al Bastakiya, a lead-in to the UAE Derby.