03/01/2011 4:34PM

Ex-Americans in the spotlight for Dubai World Cup Night preps


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Super Thursday, perhaps better tagged Dubai World Cup Preview Night, was jarred when World Cup favorite Bold Silvano was not entered in Round 3 of the $300,000 Maktoum Challenge, the 1 1/4-mile course and distance prep for the world’s richest race. The Mike de Kock-trained winner of Round 2 of the Maktoum Challenge is suffering from a foot bruise and will go straight to World Cup on March 26.

There will be a strong ex-American flavor to the Maktoum Challenge, which is one of Meydan’s seven course and distance preps for World Cup Night. Zabeel Racing’s Richard’s Kid, winner of his last two starts, in the Goodwood Stakes and the Pacific Classic, for Bob Baffert, will make his debut for Satish Seemar off a five-month layoff. Seventh in last year’s Dubai World Cup when beaten just 2 1/2 lengths, the 6-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid will be ridden by Richard Mullen from post 12 in the 14-runner field.

Etched, winner of seven of his first nine starts when trained by Kiaran McLaughlin for Darley before finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, has been switched by Sheikh Mohammed to Godolphin and trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni. The winner of the 1 1/8-mile, Grade 2 Monmouth Cup in October, Etched will be making his first start on a synthetic surface with Ahmad Ajtebi aboard.

Twice Over, 10th in last year’s World Cup, rates as one of the best 10-furlong turf horses in the world, with three such Group 1 triumphs to his credit. Third in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic on the Santa Anita Pro-Ride, the Henry Cecil trainee will break from post 13 with Tom Queally riding.

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Arlington Million winner Debussy makes his first start for Al Zarooni and Godolphin since being switched from trainer John Gosden and Princess Haya for whom he finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Regular rider William Buick will be in the saddle.

Frankie Dettori’s Godolphin choice is the dangerous Prince Bishop. The winner of his last four starts for trainer Andre Fabre, the Dubawi 4-year-old is making his synthetic debut off an Oct. 17 score in Longchamp’s 1 1/2-mile, Group 2 Prix du Conseil de Paris.

Musir will deputize for Bold Silvano. A three-time winner on the Meydan Tapeta surface last winter, including the UAE Derby, he returned from a 10 1/2-month absence to finish a sharp second to Skysurfers in the listed, one-mile Firebreak Stakes three weeks ago. He is the lukewarm choice, with leading Dubai Carnival rider Christophe Soumillon aboard.

Team Valor’s Gitano Hernando, sixth in last year’s World Cup, disappointed when only 4 1/4 lengths fifth in Round 2 of the Maktoum Challenge. Trainer Marco Botti is switching to Johnny Murtagh in hopes of improvement from the 2009 Goodwood Stakes winner.

The Group 2, $250,000 Jebel Hatta, a trial for the 1 1/8-mile Dubai Duty Free, is headed by the Luca Cumani-trained Presvis. The slow-starting Sakhee 7-year-old romped home by 4 3/4 lengths last time on Jan. 27 in the Group 2 Al Rashidiya. Challenging is last year’s Duty Free winner Al Shemali, who returns to turf after two unplaced efforts on Tapeta. Saeed bin Suroor will saddle Godolphin’s Poet’s Voice, the Dubawi 4-year-old who nosed out Rip Van Winkle in last fall’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot. The Ben Cecil-trained Ferneley must show vast improvement off his seventh in a seven-furlong Meydan handicap to have a chance.

Godolphin’s Mendip is the best bet of the evening in the Group 3, $200,000 Burj Nahar, a trial for the Godolphin Mile. Dettori will ride the 2 1/4-length winner of the one-mile Round 1 of the Maktoum Challenge against the likes of Cat Junior, Snaafy, and the Ben Cecil-trained Crowded House, who was seventh, beaten 8 1/2 lengths last time in Round 2 of the Maktoum Challenge at 1 3/16 miles.

One might have to look long and hard to find the six-furlong Dubai Golden Shaheen winner coming out of the Group 3, $200,000 Mahab Al Shimaal. Bankable, winner of last year’s 1 1/8-mile, Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort on turf, was fourth in the first sprint try of his career two back. Conveyance, like Richard’s Kid switched by Zabeel from Baffert to Seemar, won last year’s Grade 3 San Rafael on the Santa Anita Pro-Ride in front-running fashion and could prove best of a so-so lot with Mullen riding.

Godolphin has a hot item in Simon de Montfort in the Group 2, $250,000 Dubai City of Gold, the prep for the Dubai Sheema Classic. The winner of the 1 1/4-mile, Group 3 Prix La Force for Fabre in April, he made his Godolphin debut a winning one when landing a 1 1/4-mile turf handicap on Jan. 20 off a nine-month absence. Interaction, the 2009 Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini winner, showed improvement for Pascal Bary when three lengths third in Round 2 of the Maktoum Challenge, while the Freddie Head-trained Marinous, winner of the Group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville, has hopes off his Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe sixth.

Reem can give de Kock a win in the listed $250,000 Al Bastakiya, a trial for the 1 3/16-mile UAE Derby. The filly was a sharp second last time against older distaffers in the Group 2 Balanchine Stakes.