02/09/2010 12:00AM

Gayego makes seasonal debut

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A world-class sprinter by any stretch of the imagination, Gayego will make his seasonal debut at Meydan on Thursday night when he faces 11 rivals in the Group 3, $200,000 Al Shindagha Sprint. Godolphin's 5-year-old son of Gilded Time will be ridden for the first time by Frankie Dettori in the one-turn, six-furlong dash on Meydan's synthetic Tapeta surface.

The winner of the Ancient Title Stakes on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride on Oct. 11, Gayego was a somewhat unlucky fourth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint on the same track four weeks later when just a nose, a head, and a nose behind Dancing in Silks, suffering his first loss in four tries at the Al Shindagha distance. Adept on synthetics, he is the one to beat breaking from post 2.

Strike the Deal, last of 14 in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, looks in tough, even with Kieren Fallon aboard, while War Artist, a Group 2 winner at Baden-Baden and a Group 3 winner at Longchamp, was only second in a modest Wolverhampton listed race in his lone try on Polytrack.

The big danger to Gayego is Our Giant, a Mike de Kock-trained son of Giant's Causeway who won the six-furlong, Group 1 Mercury Sprint by 4 1/4 lengths last time on July 19 on the turf in South Africa.

De Kock will saddle Raihana in the listed $250,000 UAE 1000 Guineas. Fresh from a 3 1/4-length score in the seven-furlong UAE 1000 Guineas Trial, the Australian-bred daughter of Elusive Quality should have no problems stretching out to a mile. Godolphin's Isihitaki aired in Argentine Group 1 races on both turf and dirt but has been absent since May 1, while the undefeated Mensajera de la Luz was last seen winning Chile's championship juvenile filly event, the Tanteo de Potrancas, on June 20.

Three Godolphin nominees to the Triple Crown begin their 3-year-old campaigns in a seven-furlong Tapeta allowance. Cappiwino, the 10 1/4-length winner of a six-furlong maiden at Laurel on Sept. 25 when trained by Gary Capuano, will be ridden by young French ace Mikael Barzalona. Ted Durcan takes the reins on Fareej, a son of Kingmambo who won a maiden on the Newmarket turf and an allowance on the Lingfield Polytrack in his first two starts, both at a mile. Dettori has chosen Mendip, a Harlan's Holiday colt who took his Sept. 4 maiden debut going a mile on the Kempton Polytrack by 2 1/4 lengths. They will be tested by stablemate Enak, a Southern Hemisphere 3-year-old fresh from a four-length score in Argentina's Group 1 Gran Criterium on May 23.

Quijano, a multiple Group 1 winner in Germany and Italy who just missed in the last two runnings of Woodbine's Northern Dancer Stakes, will spot nine foes four to 15 pounds in a $175,000 turf handicap over 1 1/2 miles to close out the seven-race card.