02/12/2015 8:54AM

Mubtaahij horse to watch in UAE 2000 Guineas

Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club
UAE 2000 Guineas Trial winner Mubtaahij has been nominated to the Triple Crown.

There are several rich races with tendrils climbing toward the March 28 Dubai World Cup program on the seven-race card Thursday night at Meydan, but only one of them includes a horse with a chance of making it to North America this spring.

The race is the $250,000 UAE 2000 Guineas, and the horse is Mubtaahij, a 3-year-old Irish-bred colt trained by Mike de Kock who has made a strong enough impression since being switched to dirt this winter that his connections nominated him to the American Triple Crown. 

Mubtaahij, by Dubawi, ran two so-so races over the Newmarket turf last fall, but he won a dirt race in December at Meydan by a half-length, and moved forward significantly capturing the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial on Jan. 15 by five lengths. There are only six others in the UAE 2000 Guineas, a one-turn dirt mile, and the best-looking of them, Ajwad and Maftool, were left in Mubtaahij’s wake last month. Ajwad, another de Kock trainee, led and held second in the Jan. 15 trial race, finishing just ahead of Maftool, a dirt-bred son of Hard Spun who stands a chance of improving Thursday.

The Guineas, race 3, is the first of the more important races on the card, followed by the $200,000 Al Shindagha Sprint (a prep for the Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup Day); a $175,000 handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf, (Sheema Classic); the $200,000 Firebreak Stakes (Godolphin Mile); and $175,000  handicap over nine furlongs on turf (Dubai Turf).

The Al Shindagha Sprint includes two winners of the Golden Shaheen, Krypton Factor, who won the race in 2012, and Reynaldothewizard, the 2013 winner. Krypton Factor makes his first start since October and tries dirt for the first time, while Reynaldothewizard, a 9-year-old who began his career racing on U.S. dirt tracks, won his Meydan dirt debut last month in decisive fashion, and is the horse to beat.

The 12-furlong turf handicap includes Teletext, an American-bred son of Empire Maker who has campaigned in France with trainer Pascal Bary, most recently finishing second to Ectot in the Sept. 14 Prix Niel, a performance that is likely to have him favored in North American betting. Bary won with his only other starter this winter in Dubai.

The Firebreak includes Romansh, a U.S.-campaigned horse who takes a class drop after facing some of the best older American dirt horses during 2014. Darwin, making his first start for de Kock after racing for Aidan O’Brien, is an interesting contender. He makes his dirt debut, and his pedigree — by Big Brown and out of a Silver Ghost mare — suggests he may like it.

The nightcap, the nine-furlong turf handicap, has no standouts, with North American 3-1 morning-line favorite Mushreq perhaps having no better chance than several longer-priced horses.