02/25/2014 4:41PM

Dubai: Trade Storm has license to improve in Zabeel Mile

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Last year during the Dubai World Cup Carnival, Trade Storm finished 11th in his first race of the meeting, then improved massively and impressively won a pair of grass races over the Meydan course before finishing a commendable fourth in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free to end his Dubai campaign. We will see if a similar pattern unfolds Thursday when Trade Storm makes his second start of the 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival in the Group 3, $250,000 Zabeel Mile.

Trade Storm’s first race of this meeting looked a lot like his Dubai debut in 2013. It came in the Jan. 30 Al Rashidiya, and as was the case a year ago, Trade Storm barely lifted a hoof, checking in 10th of 12 while always racing near the back of the field. But we know improvement – vast improvement – is possible.

In his second Dubai run in 2013, Trade Storm launched a vicious rally to score an eye-catching win in a handicap. Third time up, he won the Zabeel Mile by 1 1/2 lengths with a similarly excellent closing kick.

The best 2013 Trade Storm can definitely repeat in the Zabeel Mile, with main opposition coming from Mushreq, a highly capable Mike de Kock-trained gelding, and perhaps Gale Force Ten, another de Kock trainee who has yet to show anything close to his best in a pair of starts at the meet. Mshawish, second last month in his Dubai debut, also has a chance.

The co-feature on the card is the Group 3, $250,000 UAE Oaks, which, if nothing else, is a race-callers nightmare with the presence of the fillies Magroora, Magrooma, and Mensoora. The likely race favorite, however,  is the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Ihtimaal, who won her all-weather surface debut, the Feb. 6 UAE Oaks, by more than three lengths, and might be difficult to defeat if she runs back to or improves upon that performance.