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Dubai: Little Mike and Dullahan set for local World Cup prep races
By Marcus Hersh
For the first time since Curlin ran in the Jaguar Trophy Handicap on Feb. 28, 2008, major American horses will be racing in Dubai in advance of the Dubai World Cup program.
Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Little Mike and Pacific Classic winner Dullahan, both trained by Dale Romans, arrived in Dubai last weekend after shipping from Florida, and both horses will see action Saturday night at Meydan during an excellent renewal of the Super Saturday card, which is part of the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
The eight-race card (seven Thoroughbred, one Arabian) comprises preparatory races for stakes on World Cup night, and nearly all the best horses stabled in Dubai this winter are competing. That includes the two Americans, whose connections both have designs on the $10 million World Cup.
Dullahan, already a known, top-class commodity on synthetic surfaces, runs in the Group 3, $200,000 Burj Nahaar, which is contested around one turn at about one mile over Meydan’s Tapeta main track. Dullahan drew post 2 in a 14-horse field and will be ridden by Kieren Fallon. His chief opposition figures to come from two Godolphin runners: African Story, who won the 2012 Godolphin Mile on the World Cup program, and Moonwalk in Paris, a sharp course and distance winner of the Firebreak Stakes on Feb. 14 at Meydan.
Little Mike drew post 1 in a 13-horse edition of the Group 1, $400,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3, a race at the World Cup distance of about 1 1/4 miles on Tapeta. Little Mike won three Grade 1 turf races last year, preceding his BC Turf score with wins in the Turf Classic at Churchill and the Arlington Million. Little Mike has never started on a synethetic surface of any type, and his performance Saturday will determine whether he gets a shot in the World Cup or is aimed at one of two rich turf races, the Sheema Classic over about 1 1/2 miles or the Duty Free at about 1 1/8 miles.
Little Mike’s opponents include a powerful duo of Godolphin runners in Monterosso and Hunters Light. Monterosso is set to make his first start of the winter in just his second race since he won the 2012 World Cup. Hunters Light ran out a sharp 3 1/4-length winner of the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2.
The Jebel Hatta, a prep for the Duty Free, features a pair of Mike de Kock-trained runners with World Cup night aspirations, Igugu and The Apache, and the card also includes preps for the Sheema Classic, the Godolphin Mile, the Golden Shaheen, the Al Quoz Sprint, and the UAE Derby.
Don't know how Dale's horses will run this time, but will this help them on WC night? The answer to that will influence what American trainers do with their WC prospects hereafter. The Curlin example may not apply anymore, because when he went over early, they were still using the dirt track at Nad al Sheba. This will be the first test of this approach of acclimating the horses to Dubai and giving them a start in advance of the WC since the move to Meydan and Tapeta. I'm fascinated to see if it will give them an edge over Animal Kingdom.
Did Dale Romans forget that Animal Kingdom was pointing for the Dubai World Cup? He must have or there is no way he would have sent two horses all the way to Dubai. After he realizes this Dale will probably run both Little Mike and Dullahan on the under card on World Cup night. Because there is no way Animal Kingdom can lose, right?
The prep is just that ! Thats not why they went over there...like souza, B C term
Dullahan should have a good chance on the synthetic track if he likes the Tapeta track. Keeneland and Del Mar are polytrack which are different. Well Armed was born in Kentucky and his sire was Tisnow. They bought him from the farm or auction and took him to the UAE which was where he was raised. He was a UAE horse. He raced a 1 ¼ mile race a month before The World Cup and won it, and then he went on to win The World Cup a month later. He was then brought to the U.S. and competed with Curlin and Tiego in 2009. I really think that horse might really go on the synthetics. Taking him there and racing him before the big race could turn out well for Dullahan just like it did for Well Armed!
The Pacific Classic winner Dullahan is the best American Synthetic horse that we have here in the US. With age , Dullahan will get better and better .... Good Luck Dullahan ( Dale Romans) and make us proud...
I can see Little Mike being given a shot in Dubai but Dullahan ??? I don't think he is that good but then again he could prove me wrong but I doubt it and most likely we will be hearing that he brought up the rear. Little Mike will make a good impression or win the race, now he is one Classy Hombre and can't be over looked.
Little Mike has already beat 2 of the horses in the prep he is in Trailblazer and Treasure Beach
If not for synthetics, Dullahan would be a 20,000 dollar claimer.
Little Mike shows up and runs. Who knows if he handles the surface though?
Dullahan finishes a Dull 3rd at the best going 1 turn
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