03/25/2010 12:00AM

Kinsale King sticking with what's worked

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Trainer Carl O'Callaghan has repeatedly played Saturday's $2 million Golden Shaheen at Meydan racecourse over in his mind in recent days and he always dreams of the same scenario for Kinsale King.

"I'd like to be sitting right off the leaders," he said. "If he turns for home in front, he'll dig in and give it his all."

Kinsale King used that strategy to win his second stakes in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 23, seven weeks after giving O'Callaghan his first stakes win in the Grade 3 Vernon Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park. Those wins encouraged owner Patrick Sheehy and O'Callaghan to try the Golden Shaheen, a race that has been friendly to American-trained runners.

The Golden Shaheen became a seven-figure race in 2000, and American-trained horses have won eight of the last 10 runnings. Kinsale King is the lone American-based runner in this year's field. The Golden Shaheen will be run over a different layout this year - a one-turn race of about six furlongs, or 1,200 meters, on the Tapeta synthetic surface. Previously, at Nad Al Sheba, the race was run on a straightaway over traditional dirt.

O'Callaghan said Thursday that he has not extensively trained Kinsale King this week, preferring to walk him Wednesday and Thursday, a schedule observed before the Underwood and Palos Verdes. Kinsale King was scheduled to jog Friday.

"He'll be sharp," O'Callaghan said. "You want to train a little bit. I don't want to change anything. It's worked before."

A 5-year-old gelding, Kinsale King has won 4 of 7 starts for three trainers, racing exclusively on synthetic tracks in Southern California. O'Callaghan, who began training him last summer, sent Kinsale King to Golden Gate Fields for two workouts in February over that track's Tapeta surface.

Kinsale King will be in pursuit of two speedy veterans from the Far East - Laurel Guerreiro from Japan and Rocket Man from Singapore. They appear to be one-dimensional front-runners and are likely to set a torrid pace.

Gayego is a threat from off the pace. Based in Dubai with Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing and the winner of the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes at Santa Anita last fall, Gayego has started once this year, finishing a troubled second in a sprint here on Feb. 11. Last fall, Gayego was fourth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint after a slow start.

Al Quoz Sprint: California Flag back

In the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint, California Flag will be trying to regain the form he showed winning the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita last fall. California Flag followed that performance with a fifth-place finish in the $1.5 million Hong Kong Sprint, his first start outside of California.

Trainer Brian Koriner then took California Flag back to his base at Santa Anita and began planning the Al Quoz Sprint, which is being run for the first time on the World Cup program and is contested over about six furlongs on a straight chute section of the turf course.

California Flag will start from post 8 in a field of 16. He will attempt to lead throughout, a style that led to four stakes wins on turf in Southern California last year.

Regular jockey Joe Talamo will ride California Flag, the only American-trained runner in the field.

The field is dominated by horses who have run at Meydan in recent months, including Judd Street and Star Crowned, who were first and second in an allowance race over six furlongs on turf here March 5 but have struggled in group stakes company.

UAE Derby: Mendip after 4th straight

In other races, Mendip could earn a start in the Kentucky Derby on May 1 if he wins the $2 million United Arab Emirates Derby.

Owned by Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing, Mendip is unbeaten after three races but has never started in a group or graded stakes. He won the $250,000 Al Bastakiya Stakes here March 4 over about

1 3/16 miles, or 1,900 meters, the same distance as the UAE Derby.

"He's improved with every race," trainer Saeed bin Suroor said.

Godolphin has another American Triple Crown nominee in the UAE Derby field in Frozen Power, who has won 4 of 9 starts and was second to Musir in the UAE 2000 Guineas here Feb. 18.

The race is open to 3-year-olds from the Southern Hemisphere who are 4-year-olds by Northern Hemisphere standards. Musir, a

4-year-old Australian bred trained by Michael de Kock of South Africa, is considered the best of that age group.

w Desert Party, who won the 2008 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga and was 14th in the Kentucky Derby last year, seeks the fourth stakes win of his career in the $1 million Godolphin Mile.

Trained by Suroor for Godolphin Racing, Desert Party has started once this year, winning a Group 3 race over about six furlongs March 4.

"He needed the race," Suroor said.

A Kentucky-bred by Street Cry, Desert Party suffered an ankle injury in the Kentucky Derby last year which left him sidelined for the rest of the year.

The Godolphin Mile drew a field of 14, but there are no American-trained runners in the race. Cat Junior, the winner of a Group 3 race here March 4, is expected to run well in his second start with blinkers.

"He had a good back end of the season in Europe last year," trainer Brian Meehan said. "He was knocking on the door in some serious races. He loves the track here. Blinkers help a little bit. He's 5, and you have to focus him a little bit."