02/28/2006 12:00AM

Godolphin pulls out heavy artillery at last

Email

Godolphin finally fires its big guns at Nad Al Sheba Thursday night when the track will host course and distance preps for all six of the big races on Dubai World Cup night, March 25.

Sheikh Mohammed, who since the death in January of his older brother Maktoum has been in control of Godolphin, has sent out only 19 runners in the eight meetings of the Dubai Racing Carnival this winter, and only three of them won. On Thursday's $1.3 million card, Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor will saddle five horses, chief among them Electrocutionist in Round 3 of the Group 2, $300,000 Maktoum Challenge, the final local prep for the $6 million Dubai World Cup.

Purchased by Godolphin from Earle Mack after he was moved up to third in the Canadian International, Electrocutionist has been away from the races for four months and will be making his first start on dirt.

Electrocutionist is experienced at 1 1/4 miles, as his victory in York's Group 1 Juddmonte International showed, and there is no doubting his class as he finished just a nose behind last year's Breeders' Cup Turf winner Shirocco in the 2004 edition of the Group 1 Gran Premio del Jockey Club at 1 1/2 miles in Milan.

If Electrocutionist can handle the dirt, he and rider Frankie Dettori will have a big edge on British all-weather ace Eccentric and defending champ Chiquitin.

The $250,000 Jebel Hatta, a Group 2 trial for the $5 million Dubai Duty Free, features the return of Valixir, a two-time Group 1 winner in France for trainer Andre Fabre. Like Electrocutionist, Valixir was an offseason Godolphin purchase. Valixir will have to be near his best on Thursday to defeat two-time Group 2 Prix Dollar winner Touch of Land, last year's Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort winner Yard-Arm, and hardknocking British Group 3 winner Hazyview. Tyson and Clinet, both 2 for 2 on the Nad Al Sheba turf this season, also figure to play a role.

The absence of Heart Alone, the sensational Brazilian-bred winner of the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint on Jan. 26, leaves the $200,000 Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal up for grabs. Heart Alone will go straight to the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen on March 25, leaving Thursday's lackluster prep a tossup between last year's Golden Shaheen second and third finishers, Tropical Star and Botanical.

Godolphin will have two runners in the Group 3, $200,000 Dubai City of Gold, a 1 1/2-mile preview of the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic. Dettori's mount Cherry Mix, second to Bago in the 2004 Arc de Triomphe, was slow off the mark last year, finishing 12th in Hurricane Run's Arc before rebounding to win the Gran Premio del Jockey Club. Kerrin McEvoy will ride Godolphin's Sights on Gold, who is winless since September 2004.

Collier Hill, third in last year's Sheema Classic prior to winning the Group 1 Irish St. Leger at 1 3/4 miles, knows his way around Nad Al Sheba, but the longshot choice is Falstaff, an improving son of Montjeu who is coming off a sharp 1 1/4-mile handicap score for trainer Mike de Kock.

Grand Emporium used a second-place finish in last year's Group 3, $200,000 Burj Nahaar to vault to victory in the $1 million Godolphin Mile. Absent since June, Grand Emporium, 6, should be good enough to hold off 2004 Burj Nahaar winner Cherry Pickings.

Godolphin has nominated five horses to the Triple Crown but none of them will line up for the $150,000 Al Bastikiya, a prep for the $2 million UAE Derby at 1 1/8 miles. The Alec Laird-trained Henny Hughes also will not be in the race, nor will Gold for Sale, the undefeated Argentine-bred winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas.

The one to beat is Chilean-bred Simpatico Bribon, the winner of the Group 1 Tanteo de Potrillos who has been more impressive than his Ian Jory-trained stablemate, Gold for Sale in the morning. If he is as good as advertised, Where's That Tiger, may be in the race for second along with Flashing Numbers and Well Armed.