02/11/2014 3:59PM

Dubai: UAE 2000 Guineas tops trio of Group 3 races at Meydan


A trio of Group 3 races, the $250,000 UAE 2000 Guineas, the $200,000 Firebreak, and the $200,000 Al Shindagha Sprint, are featured on Thursday’s six-race program at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.

The UAE 2000 Guineas, carded for about one mile on the Tapeta main track at Meydan, drew 11 entrants and is difficult to figure in no small part because two of the Godolphin horses in the race, Long John and Paximadia, both are making their first start outside Australia while making their all-weather-racing-surface debut.

Long John, trained by Charlie Appleby, is a Group 1 winner over about one mile on grass, and like Paximadia is considered a 4-year-old now on Northern Hemisphere time. Long John had a busy 2013 campaign, making eight starts, the seventh of which produced a victory over 13 rivals in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas. Long John hasn’t started since Oct. 26 when he finished ninth of 14 in the Group 1 Cox Plate, a 10-furlong race perhaps farther than Long John’s best.

Paximadia, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, is less accomplished than Long John but ended his 2013 campaign on the upswing, with victories in Group 3 and Group 2 races over about a mile on turf.

Bin Suroor’s second horse in the race, Emirates Flyer, is a true 3-year-old who in a seven-start career barely has scraped graded-stakes competition, but he did run decently beating Safety Check – another Appleby-trained UAE 2000 Guineas runner – in the Guineas Trial last month at Meydan.

Wednaan, one of three Mike de Kock-trained entrants, has an outside chance. His lone start, which came late last summer at Yarmouth, produced a win, and he remains totally unexposed for a dangerous outfit.

Variety Club, the South African Horse of the Year in 2012 and 2013, makes his first start outside his home country in the Firebreak Stakes, another Tapeta race at about one mile. A winner of eight straight races and 14 for 19 in his career, Variety Club, trained by Joey Ramsden, has eight rivals in the Firebreak.

The Firebreak is a long-range prep for the Godolphin Mile on the World Cup card, while the Al Shindagha on Thursday, which drew a full field of 14 plus also-eligibles, is a Tapeta sprint race that traces forward to the Golden Shaheen on World Cup Night.

◗ The Dubai Racing Club released the list of nominees to the World Cup races this week, and there were 30 U.S.-based horses made eligible to the $10 million Dubai World Cup during this first, free stage of the entry process.

Heading the North American nominees is 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man, while absent from the list is Will Take Charge, the Donn Handicap runner-up who last fall had been mentioned as a possible World Cup candidate.