01/17/2008 1:00AM

Happy Boy sails in Dubai


Happy Boy looked like the second coming of the Darley Arabian at Nad Al Sheba on Thursday night, as the 5-year-old Brazilian-bred gray cruised to a nine-length victory in Round 1 of the Group 3, $200,000 Maktoum Challenge.

A son of Ski Champ trained by Pedro Nickel Filho, Happy Boy had been a Group 3 winner going 1 1/2 miles in the last of four recent turf starts in Sao Paulo on Nov. 10. Thursday, he overcame a bump from his inside post at the start of the one-mile dirt contest. Soon racing in eighth, Happy Boy skimmed the rail to take command entering the 2 1/2-furlong stretch, with rider Jose Aparecido looking over his shoulder for what proved to be nonexistent challenges.

The Pascal Bary-trained, Brazilian-bred Gloria de Campeao was up for second by a head from Frosty Secret, third in last year's Withers and now trained by Mike de Kock.

The 6-year-old Etihaad - a half-brother to the 1999 Dubai World Cup winner, Almutawakel, by the 2000 Dubai World Cup winner, Dubai Millennium - was fourth in just his second career start. The time for the mile on fast ground was 1:36.37.

Happy Boy's ability to act on dirt was no secret as he had won 4 of his first 5 starts in Brazil on that surface, one of them a win in the 1 3/8-mile Group 2 Grande Premio Piratininga at Cidade Jardim. The ease of his victory on Thursday, coupled with his proven ability at distances beyond a mile, make him a viable candidate for the Dubai World Cup, but winning a race like this in such a fashion is sure to bring his owner, Roberto Reichert, some very lucrative offers, and those should come sooner rather than later.

Earlier, Godolphin and Frankie Dettori combined to produce the Argentine Oaks winner, Fiesta Lady, as the 3-1/4-length winner of the seven-furlong Al Haarth allowance. A Southern Halo filly, 3 on the Southern Hemisphere breeding schedule, she has now won 4 of her 5 career starts.