03/05/2013 4:38PM

Dubai: Little Mike and Dullahan set for local World Cup prep races

Barbara D. Livingston
Dullahan is one of two American horses set to run on the Super Saturday card.

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.

[DUBAI SUPER SATURDAY: Get PPs, watch Saturday's Meydan card live]

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.