01/28/2014 4:44PM

Meydan: Trade Storm back on favorite course for Al Rashidiya

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Trade Storm was virtually unknown when he began racing in Dubai at about this time last year, but the horse who had struggled to gain traction on English racecourses found his niche at Meydan, moving up mightily on the fast-playing, left-handed course to become one of the better grass runners of the 2013 World Cup Carnival.

Trade Storm won two Meydan stakes last winter, finished a creditable fourth in the $5 million Duty Free on the World Cup card, and rounded out his 5-year-old campaign with a third behind Wise Dan’s course-record-setting win in the Woodbine Mile. On Thursday, he returns to his favorite course at Meydan as one of 12 entrants in the Group 2, $200,000 Al Rashidiya over about 1 1/8 miles.

The Al Rashidiya is the fifth of six races on the Thursday night program at Meydan and shares top billing with race 3, the Group 2, $200,000 Cape Verdi, a one-mile grass race for fillies and mares.

Trade Storm needed his first run of the World Cup Carnival last season before hitting peak form, and if he is a race away from his best Thursday, a number of rivals could step up.

Mushreq already has a grass win at the meet for trainer Mike de Kock, while Godolphin has the high-class filly Tasaday (who twice ran into Arc winner Treve last season) as well as Maputo set for the Al Rashidiya. Steeler finished fourth in an all-weather Meydan race Jan. 9, and considering that he likely is a superior grass horse and was making his first start since October 2012, Steeler should be set to improve Thursday.

The Cape Verdi came up a good race and includes the Godolphin filly Certify, who won all four of her starts at 2 but has not raced since capturing the Group 1 Fillies Mile in September 2012.

Flotilla won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and the Group 1 French 1000 Guineas last spring and had been considered for the 2013 Breeders’ Cup before suffering a minor setback. Shuruq won the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 on Jan. 9 on the Meydan all-weather track, while Pearl of Africa, who has French form, and Mensoora, a South African import, both rate a chance as well.