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Maktoums may be just warming up
ELMONT, N.Y. - As good a weekend as the Maktoum family had at Belmont Park, it may only be a harbinger for the major races this summer and fall.
Led by Jazil's victory in Saturday's Belmont Stakes for Sheikh Hamdan bid Rashid al Maktoum's Shadwell Stable, the Maktoum family won seven races at Belmont between Friday and Sunday, including graded stakes scores by Songster in the Woody Stephens and Dubai Escapade in the Vagrancy. The latter two victories came for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum's Darley Stable. Sheik Mohammed is the younger brother of Sheikh Hamdan.
Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing also enjoyed a good weekend, winning allowance races with Afrashad and Safsoof on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
The family won seven races and many of its best horses did not even run over the weekend, including Preakness winner Bernardini, fellow 3-year-olds Discreet Cat and Henny Hughes, and the older horse Invasor.
Trainer Tom Albertrani said Bernardini is expected to "start picking up the tempo" in his training this week with his next start expected to come in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 29. Albertrani said Songster came out of his sharp victory in Saturday's Woody Stephens Breeders' Cup in good shape and will "most likely" make his next start in the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga on Aug. 26.
There he is likely to meet Henny Hughes, who is owned by Sheikh Mohammed's son, Sheikh Rajid. Henny Hughes, last year's Hopeful, Champagne, and Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up, is training steadily for Kiaran McLaughlin and is expected to return in the Grade 2, $150,000 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup Handicap on July 1 at Monmouth Park.
On Monday at Belmont, two of Godolphin's better 3-year-olds turned in workouts as they get ready to return to the races. Discreet Cat, the undefeated winner of the United Arab Emirates Derby, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.84 as he prepares for the Grade 2, $150,000 Dwyer on July 4. Rondo, a 3-year-old son of Grand Slam, worked five furlongs in 59.82 seconds, handily. Rondo finished second to High Cotton in his lone start as a 2-year-old and has not run since. He was owned by Darley and trained by Eoin Harty last year before being turned over to Godolphin.
Rick Mettee, who oversees Godolphin's Belmont string, said Discreet Cat had breezed once in Dubai after the UAE Derby and was about to breeze again before Sheikh Mohammed withdrew him from consideration for the Kentucky Derby. Discreet Cat then got a little break when he got here at the end of April.
"It's not like we're bringing him back from scratch," Mettee said.
Mettee said the horses he brought here this year are more race ready than the group he brought in 2005. That was quite evident by the performance turned in Saturday by Afrashad, making his first start in nearly 23 months. A 4-year-old son of Smoke Glacken, Afrashad won a first-level allowance race by 4 3/4 lengths while running six furlongs in 1:08.38 and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 107.
"We've always known he's got ability. It was keeping him sound and mentally right that was difficult," Mettee said. "He's a difficult horse to train."
Mettee was uncertain where Afrashad would run next.
Dubai Escapade capped the big weekend for the Maktoum family with her six-length tour-de-force victory in Sunday's Vagrancy. She earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 105 for the performance and will now be pointed to the Grade 1 Princess Rooney at Calder.
"She seems to enjoy what she's doing and I certainly enjoy watching it," said Harty, who trains her.
Invasor, who like Jazil is owned by Shadwell and trained by McLaughlin, won the Pimlico Special in his North American debut. He is being pointed to the Grade 1 Suburban here on July 1.
Then there are 40 2-year-olds owned by the Maktoums training in Saratoga under the watchful eye of David Scanlon. Those horses will be split up among Albertrani, Harty, and McLaughlin when they're ready to run.
Manhattan quartet to scatter
The four Manhattan runners that finished within a neck of each other in Saturday's Grade 1 Manhattan are likely headed in different directions for their next starts.
Trainer Bobby Frankel indicated that Manhattan winner Cacique would be pointed to the Arlington Million on Aug. 12. Christophe Clement, whose Relaxed Gesture was beaten a short head in the Manhattan, could run next in the Bowling Green at Belmont on July 15 or await the Sword Dancer on Aug. 12 at Saratoga.
English Channel, beaten a neck while fourth, could run next in the United Nations Handicap at Monmouth Park on July 8, trainer Todd Pletcher said. Pletcher said it is also possible he could simply train the horse up to either the Sword Dancer or Arlington Million.
Plans for Grey Swallow, the third-place finisher in the Manhattan, were unclear as of Monday morning. While it was expected Grey Swallow would be turned over to trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. after the Manhattan, the horse was still in John Hertler's Belmont Park barn on Monday morning under the care of trainer Dermot Weld's assistant Bobby Dolan. Dolan said he had not heard any official word on that transfer and was likely to cancel plans to return to Europe on Monday night.
Dolan felt Grey Swallow ran a big race considering he missed the break in a race in which he was expected to be laying first or second early.
"He was unlucky," Dolan said. "You'll hear from him again."
Cacique earned a 107 Beyer Speed Figure for the performance.
Smile or Tom Fool next for Anew
Anew has run the two best races of his career at Belmont Park, which is why trainer Steve Asmussen would like to leave him here for the $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap on July 16. But as a gelding, Anew is only worth what he can make on the track, which is why Asmussen is also considering Anew for the $500,000 Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder on July 15.
Anew, a 5-year-old son of Awesome Again, made it 4 for 4 since being gelded when he rolled to a 3 1/2-length victory in Saturday's $250,000 True North Breeders' Cup Handicap. He ran six furlongs in 1:08.10 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 112. In his last start, he won an overnight handicap here, earning a 108.
"I'd love for the Smile to be run at Belmont," Asmussen said.