01/11/2017 4:42PM

Meydan: Reynaldothewizard tries to win Dubawi Stakes for third time

Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club
Reynaldothewizard won his second consecutive Dubawi Stakes in 2016.

It can seem, at times, that winter after winter you’re watching the same horses run around the Meydan Racecourse oval in Dubai. And in the case of Reynaldothewizard, you are.

Reynaldothewizard is one of seven horses entered in the co-featured Dubawi Stakes on the eight-race Thursday card at Meydan. The gelding is 11 years old. An American-bred by Speightstown, he made his career debut during the summer of 2008 at Churchill Downs. This, remarkably, is his seventh season racing in Dubai, and even last year, as a 10-year-old, he was pretty good.

Reynaldothewizard was last seen finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Golden Shaheen Stakes on the Dubai World Cup undercard. That was this third start of the season, and first time up, he won the Dubawi for the second time.

Can Reynaldothewizard make it three times Thursday? It’s not out of the question, but among his six foes Thursday is Muaraab, who won the Golden Shaheen, and already had a run this winter when he finished second on Dec. 15 over this same 1,200 meter distance in a Meydan dirt race. Muaraab is no spring chicken himself, an 8-year-old whose form never had been as good as in the Golden Shaheen, where he beat X Y Jet by a head.

There are three others in the race worth mention. Wild Dude, the former California-based Grade 1-class sprinter trained in the U.S. by Jerry Hollendorfer, makes his Dubai debut. The 7-year-old Wild Dude last raced in the U.S. in May but last was seen racing in Korea, where he finished ninth in September. Now trained by Michael Halford, Wild Dude has always been best as a late-running sprinter, and concerns about how that style will play at Meydan coupled with his uncertain form at the moment makes him an unappealing play in the Dubawi.

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The Happy Prince races for the first time on dirt, though he has found success on all-weather surfaces in the past. The 5-year-old The Happy Prince was second just one week ago going five furlongs on turf to the mighty Ertijaal.

The pick to win, though, is Desert Force, who has been a revelation this winter in Dubai since being turned over to trainer Doug Watson and switched to dirt. A 5-year-old English import, Desert Force finished third in November making his Dubai debut, but then reeled off consecutive blowout victories in six-furlong Meydan dirt races. Up in class Dec. 29 after having his rating raised, Desert Force went to the lead and increased his advantage, winning by almost eight lengths. The old-timers might never know what hit them Thursday night.

Venerable old campaigners? There are plenty of them in race 7, a $150,000 turf-sprint handicap for horses rated 100-113. The race drew 10-year-old Sole Power, one of the best turf sprinters in England and Ireland for years, and a former winner of the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan. Also entered is Gordon Lord Byron, 9, a globe-trotting Group 1 winner who hasn’t raced in Dubai since 2013.

Making his Dubai debut in race 4, a handicap at about one mile on dirt, is Wildcat Red, whose most recent start came nearly a year ago at Gulfstream Park. Trained now by Watson, Wildcat Red would be a handful at this ratings class if he has acclimated to Dubai – and if he hadn’t drawn poorly in post 14.

In the co-featured nightcap, a $175,000 turf handicap carded for about 10 furlongs, keep an eye out for Sanshaawes, the Mike de Kock-trained veteran who improved second time out last winter to win, and is running back a week after a useful fourth-place finish over a nine-furlong trip a little short of his best.

First post for the card is 9:30 a.m. Eastern. Live video and wagering is available at www.drf.bets.com.