02/02/2017 5:37PM

Furia Cruzada edges Second Summer in Round 2 of Al Maktoum Challenge

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Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club
Furia Cruzada (No. 1) edges Second Summer to win Round 2 of the Al Maktoum Challenge on Thursday.

On Thursday morning in California, trainer Bob Baffert told Daily Racing Form that the Dubai World Cup now was being considered as an “option” for Arrogate, and the results of Round 2 of the Al Maktoum Challenge on Thursday at Meydan Racecourse make blaringly clear that no horse who has raced so far this winter in Dubai can come within hailing distance of an in-form Arrogate.

The 5-year-old Furia Cruzada gamely won the Thursday feature, a Group 2 worth $250,000, by a nose over former Southern California campaigner Second Summer, the latter a winner of the Grade 2 Californian at his peak last year. Mubtaahij, training in Dubai with Mike de Kock but so far unraced this winter, was second in the 2016 World Cup and is the highest-class local runner aimed at the World Cup, but on both their best days Mubtaahij would also be no match for Arrogate.

Furia Cruzada, though, is a good match for dirt. The Chilean-bred 5-year-old mare was a multiple Group 1 winner on dirt in South America before spending last season with trainer John Gosden in England. Furia Cruzada didn’t win during 2016, but raced competitively as high as the Group 2 level on turf during her 2016 campaign.

Now trained by Erwan Charpy, Furia Cruzada made her Dubai debut on a rainy Thursday night at Meydan and worked out a favorable trip stalking the pace while saving ground under jockey Antonio Fresu. The two found room into the stretch run as pace-setting Long River backed through the field, getting up on Fitzgerald’s hindquarters at about the 300-meter mark and making the lead.

Second Summer, another horse racing in Dubai for the first time, also saved ground most of the race, and he followed Furia Cruzada between horses in upper stretch, then dived to the inside to make a sustained push at the winner. Second Summer was going best at the wire, but Furia Cruzada’s head went down at an opportune moment and she won by a nose.

“She’s very tough,” Fresu said. “She loves the dirt. To be honest she’s not 100 percent yet. I’m looking forward to next race.”

Furia Cruzada ran 1,900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles) on a fast track in 1:58.85. Power Blade, who raced wide, finished a distant third, a neck better than Le Bernardin, who had won Round 1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge last month for the second year in a row. Le Bernardin broke from the outside post and was guided to the rear of the field, much farther off the pace than he probably prefers, and made a decent run to reach contention before fading the final furlong.

Earlier in the card, Cool Cowboy scored a minor upset over favored Muarrab in the Group 3, $200,000 Al Shindagha Sprint. In a tactical change, Muarrab, who won the Group 1 Golden Shaheen last March, was held off the early pace rather than going to the lead, but he was unable to stave off a sustained bid from Cool Cowboy, who was cutting back from one-mile races for trainer Doug Watson and jockey Pat Dobbs.

Cool Cowboy, a 6-year-old by Kodiak Cowboy, was timed in 1:11.49 for 1,200 meters, or about six furlongs, on a fast dirt track. Wild Dude, who had  a somewhat troubled trip, finished a distant third.