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Dubai World Cup Super Saturday Analysis
Dubai's Meydan Racecourse has dubbed Saturday's s eight race card Super Saturday as connections prime their elite runners in anticipation of the rich March 31st Dubai World Cup day.
The $175,000 Meydan Sprint, a five furlong event on the straightaway turf course, marks the local debut of Regally Ready, winner of the 2011 Breeders Cup Turf Sprint, for trainer Steve Asmussen. With a cast of 14 well-decorated international sprinters in opposition, Regally Ready must be prepared for a peak effort in his first try over a straight course. Notably, top rider Frankie Dettori takes the call.
England-based geldings Monsieur Joe and Inxile each have three starts here during the 2012 Carnival and resume their contentious rivalry. Ireland's Nocturnal Affair, trained by David Marnane, put forth a convincing display February 23rd when brushing aside the aforementioned English duo by 1 1/4 lengths.
Speedball filly Margot Did, reunited with regular pilot Hayley Turner, possesses abundant class as she took the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes during last August's Ebor Festival at York. However, she may find the going too firm. Fellow Group 1 winner Prohibit, victorious in Royal Ascot's 2011 King's Stand Stakes, looks set to improve on his 4th place finish in Nocturnal Affair's February 23rd win.
Course specialist War Artist, conditioned by Mike De Kock, bears noting in his first start since October but he may be better suited to races over an additional furlong.
Next, racing switches to Meydan's Tapeta surface for the $200,000 Group 3 Burj Nahaar, a 14 runner one turn mile race featuring a showdown between classy veterans Musir and Gitano Hernando.
Musir brings a three race win streak into the Burj Nahaar including two potent displays in January here. Most recently, the De Kock trainee effectively stretched his speed over 9 furlongs on turf when taking the January 26th Al Rashidya by a length. On January 12th, Musir was stellar over the Burj Nahaar course and distance when cruising home by three lengths from well-regarded stable mate Master Of Hounds.
Gitano Hernando, sixth in last year's World Cup beaten just 2 3/4 lengths, appears to be using the Burj Nahaar as a prep but could rally late for a share. Godolphin's African Story chased home his stable mate Sandagiyr when beaten just 3/4 of a length in the February 9th Firebreak Stakes here and could easily improve. The classy Rajsaman showed little on Meydan's turf course January 26th and the surface switch must spark a form reversal.
Stamina comes to the fore in the $250,000 Group 2 Dubai City Of Gold as 16 competitors go to post in a turf race over just a shade longer than 1 1/2 miles. Godolphin holds a strong hand with Shimraan and Songcraft heading their uncoupled six horse entry.
Shimraan was gaining steadily at the end of his 10 furlong Meydan debut on February 16th and Songcraft, an undefeated four for four, proved his mettle when scoring over this course by a nose from fellow City Of Dubai entrant Laajooj.
World traveller Campanologist, campaigned in his last five starts in England, Turkey, Germany, Italy and Hong Kong respectively, is the defending champion and still commands respect as a seven year old. Kieran Fallon partners Campanologist for the first time.
Of the others, Viscount Nelson, stretching out to this distance for the first time, and Indian Days, who relishes firm going, merit consideration.
In the $400,000 Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3, action returns to the Tapeta as a field of 14 contests the 1 1/4 mile test, a key prep over the Dubai World Cup course and distance.
Mendip, a specialist on Meydan's artificial surface with five of six lifetime wins coming over the course, returns after a solid 1 1/4 length victory in Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 on February 9th.
Bold Silvano, upended as the odds on favorite in the February 9th Firebreak over one mile, seeks to regain his best form. The stalwart member of De Kock's stable was much better when winning here over 10 furlongs here February 3rd and the Firebreak may have come too soon.
Godolphin's Monterosso, unraced since a game 3rd in last year's Dubai World Cup, aims to reach peak fitness for another tilt at that $10,000,000 race. Improvers Prince Bishop and Capponi seek to prove that they belong in the March 31st centerpiece.
Of interest to U.S.-based handicappers, Fly Down, now trained in Saudi Arabia, and Richard's Kid, conditioned locally, also look to punch their tickets to the Dubai World Cup.
The card's finale is the $300,000 Group 1 Jebel Hatta, a nine furlong turf event which also drew a bumper field of 14 and is headed by the popular eight year old Presvis.
Presvis, a deep closer who took the 2011 Dubai Duty Free, the race for which the Jebel Hatta serves as a prep, remains on the same schedule as last year for his crafty trainer Luca Cumani.
Mutahadee, another De Kock representative, has been a revelation during the 2012 Carnival with a pair of decisive successes. Stable rider Christophe Soumillon retains the mount.
Last year's Jebel Hatta champ Wigmore Hall, a subsequent fourth in the 2011 Arlington Million, returns and can be expected to rally late in the vicinity of Presvis.
Amongst the others, the gutsy in form pair of City Style and Albaasil should be advantaged by a turf course that has been favorable to those who race on or near the lead in recent meetings.
SELECTIONS (Meydan, March 10th):
Race 4 (9:15am EST Meydan Sprint)--
1st #1 Inxile--Advantaged by shift in weights for this; good 2012 efforts over course;
2nd #9 Regally Ready--Fits nicely in this international group; must prove he's not a Churchill Downs specialist;
3rd #8 Prohibit--Finished well last out; goes one better in this spot;
Race 5 (9:50am EST Burj Nahaar)--
1st #1 Musir--Optimal conditions and he's on a roll; difficult to oppose;
2nd #4 African Story--Effective miler is a model of consistency;
3rd #2 Dux Scholar--Travelled well in March 1st Group 2; should get a share;
Race 6 (10:30am EST Dubai City Of Gold)--
1st #12 Songcraft--Remains undefeated with determined rally;
2nd #2 Campanologist--Tactical speed is advantageous for last year's winner;
3rd #1 Mikhail Glinkha--Admirable sort returns off one week rest with another solid effort;
Race 7 (11:05am EST Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3)--
1st #2 Bold Silvano--Added distance puts him back on course for World Cup peak;
2nd #9 Mendip--Kentucky-bred by Harlan's Holiday has great affinity for Meydan's Tapeta surface;
3rd #3 Prince Bishop--On mission to prove he deserves World Cup return try;
Race 8 (11:40am EST Jebel Hatta)--
1st #9 Mutahadee--Looks to complete big treble for De Kock stable;
2nd #4 Albaasil--Has never finished out of top two in six lifetime starts; in the mix again;
3rd #3 Presvis--Not fully cranked up for this; still rallies for share.