02/10/2004 12:00AM

Dubai rematch for Victory Moon

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Victory Moon is capable of turning the tables on State Shinto in Round 2 of the Group 3 Maktoum Challenge at Nad Al Sheba on Thursday night.

A South African-bred and trained colt, Victory Moon was a fast-closing third to State Shinto in the mile-long Round 1 of the series, which establishes the local candidates for the Dubai World Cup on March 27. Victory Moon, a son of Al Mufti, will appreciate the added furlong of Round 2, which carries a purse of $200,000.

Trained by Mike de Kock, Victory Moon won last March's UAE Derby but was in need of a race in the Jan. 29 Round 1. The third-place finisher in the UAE Derby, Inamorato, is Godolphin's lone starter on Thursday in his first outing since finishing seventh in the Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct on Oct. 29.

A bigger threat might be Tropical Star. A Machiavellian 4-year-old, he was just a head behind State Shinto and three-quarters of a length in front of Victory Moon in Round 1 of the Maktoum Challenge. Victory Moon, however, looks difficult to beat with regular rider Weichong Marwing in the saddle.