03/08/2011 2:37PM

Dubai Duty Free possibles get final shakedown


The Group 2, $250,000 Zabeel Mile at Meydan in Dubai on Thursday night will be the last of six local preps for the $5 million Dubai Duty Free on March 26.

With most of the principals for the Duty Free already having been decided, the Zabeel looks like a contest for those scrambling for one of the last few places left in the race.

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By process of elimination, Hearts of Fire, fifth in last Thursday’s Group 2 Jebel Hatta and fourth in the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort on Feb. 17, should start as the favorite. None of the horses who finished in front of Hearts of Fire in those two races is in the Zabeel. The winner of the Group 1 Gran Criterium in Milan as a 2-year-old, Hearts of Fire, trained by Ibrahim Al Maliki, was third in the St. James’s Palace Stakes in June when trained by Pat Eddery and will have leading German rider Adrie de Vries in the saddle, although he will be breaking widest of all from post 12.

Hoping for better luck are two Al Fahidi Fort also-rans, Silverside (sixth) and Invisible Man (ninth), and two Jebel Hatta also-rans, Kavango (ninth), and the Ben Cecil-trained Ferneley (eleventh). More credible chances might be accorded Fanunalter, the winner of a one-mile listed race on the Kempton Polytrack in November who was second to Raihana in a 1 1/8-mile Meydan turf handicap on Feb. 10, and Across the Rhine, the winner of a 7-furlong turf handicap here on Feb. 17.

Perhaps the biggest threat to Hearts of Fire’s lukewarm chance is Cat Junior. Second in Newmarket’s seven-furlong, Group 2 Challenge Stakes, the Storm Cat 6-year-old has been unplaced in two tries on Tapeta this winter and will appreciate the return to turf.

No World Cup prep for Bold Silvano

Mike de Kock declined to enter Bold Silvano in the Tapeta handicap on Thursday’s Meydan card. Thus, Bold Silvano, winner of Round 2 of the Maktoum Challenge, will head straight to the Dubai World Cup off a 51-day layoff induced by the minor foot bruise he incurred just a few days before Round 3 of the Maktoum Challenge, whose winner, Twice Over, is Ladbrokes’ 5-2 World Cup favorite. Bold Silvano is Ladbrokes second favorite at 7-2.

Snow Fairy going in Sheema Classic

Trainer Ed Dunlop has decided to bypass the World Cup with his four-time Group 1 winner Snow Fairy in favor of the 1 1/2-mile Dubai Sheema Classic. A 4-year-old Intikhab filly, Snow Fairy won both the English and Irish Oaks at the Sheema Classic distance last year. She concluded her 3-year-old campaign with victories in the 1 3/8-mile Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup at Kyoto and the 1 1/4-mile Hong Kong Cup against males at Sha Tin on Dec. 12. The Sheema Classic will be her seasonal debut.