02/05/2008 1:00AM

Lucky Find intriguing in Maktoum Challenge


As Dubai awaits the imminent arrival of Curlin, winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic and early favorite for the Dubai World Cup, 12 pretenders to the throne of best dirt horse on the planet will line up at Nad Al Sheba Thursday night for Round 2 of the Group 3, $200,000 Maktoum Challenge.

This next-to-last local prep for the World Cup features an intriguing South African invader, Lucky Find, who impressed mightily in his debut both at Nad Al Sheba and on dirt Jan. 17, beating a solid allowance field by 7 1/2 lengths at the same 1 1/8-mile distance as the Maktoum Challenge. Trained by Mike de Kock, he had been second in his previous start, the 1 3/8-mile Group 1 Daily News Stakes at Greyville on June 2. A Southern Hemisphere 4-year-old, Lucky Find will be ridden by Kevin Shea.

Saeed bin Suroor will saddle Eu Tambem, the winner last year of Round 3 of the Maktoum Challenge. A Brazilian-bred, he has not run since finishing last in the UAE Derby in March.

Suroor also has Boscobel, the winner of the 1 1/2-mile Group 2 Kind Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and a winner on the Wolverhampton Polytrack. He will be ridden by Frankie Dettori in his first start on dirt.

West Virginia, winner of the Iselin and Excelsior handicaps in 2006 when trained by Todd Pletcher, will race for the first time in nearly 16 months. He is now trained by Sateesh Seemar for Sheikh Mohammed's eldest son, Rashid.

British all-weather gypsies Jack Sullivan and Kandidate both have chances for a placing.