Updated on 09/17/2011 10:02AM

Grandera makes dirt debut on Dubai World Cup prep card


Grandera heads the Godolphin lineup in Round 3 of the Group 2 Maktoum Challenge on Nad Al Sheba's Super Saturday, when the Emirates Racing Association runs preps for all six of the big races to be run on Dubai World Cup night, March 29.

Frankie Dettori takes the ride on Grandera, a Group 1 winner in England, Ireland, and Singapore last year, who will be making his dirt debut. He will be joined by his Saeed bin Suroor-trained Godolphin stablemates Califet, who finished fourth in his latest start in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe last October, and Essence of Dubai, winner of last year's UAE Derby over the course and distance.

The absence of Godolphin's high-profile off-season purchase Sulamani in the 1 1/4-mile Maktoum Challenge raises questions about whether he will run in the World Cup or switch to the 1 1/2-mile Dubai Sheema Classic on turf. Sulamani won the French Derby last year and was second in the Arc.

The 1 1/2-mile, Group 3 Dubai City of Gold serves as the Sheema Classic prep and it features Godolphin's defending champ, Narrative, who beat Grandera by 3 1/4 lengths in last year's race. But Dettori has chosen to ride Highest, a lightly raced 4-year-old son of Selkirk who was second in both the Great Voltigeur and the St. Leger last year. Narrative and Highest will be challenged by last year's Epsom Derby third-place finisher, Simeon, and another recent Godolphin pick-up, Fight Your Corner.

Team Valor's Mike de Kock-trained filly Ipi Tombe puts her five-race winning streak on the line in the Group 3 Jebel Hatta, a course and distance prep for the 1 1/8-mile Dubai Duty Free. A handy winner of the listed one-mile Al Fahdi Fort on Feb. 6, Ipi Tombe has been impressing work-watchers in Dubai all winter. She will spot two pounds to nine male rivals, including a pair from Godolphin, Group 2 Prix Guillaume d'Ornano winner Highdown and Group 3 Winter Hill Stakes winner Naheef.

The 1 1/8-mile Al Bastikiya serves as the final prep for the $2 million 1 1/4-mile UAE Derby. The "prestige race" has attracted a field of 10, only two of which are nominated to the Triple Crown.

Anasheed has not run since finishing second in the Arlington-Washington Futurity last September. Dettori will be aboard Inamorato, a Tale of the Cat colt who was a maiden winner going 5 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park in his lone start July 6. They will both be hard-pressed to turn back the de Kock-trained Southern Hemisphere 3-year-old Victory Moon, a half-length winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas last month.

Fourteen will go in the six-furlong Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal, the local prep for the Dubai Golden Shaheen. Among them are the John Hammond-trained French invader Crystal Castle, New Zealand's Skoozi, and Sweden's Argentine-bred Nobel Prize.

The Godolphin Mile prep, the one-mile Burj Nahaar on dirt, boils down to a battle among Abreeze, making his first start for Kiaran McLaughlin since finishing 12th in the Japan Cup Dirt; Equerry, a three-time Group 3 winner on turf; and Dettori's mount, Imtiyaz.