03/24/2010 11:00PM

Presious Passion will need grit in stretch


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - The world knows about Presious Passion now.

After the gelding nearly stole the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita last November, losing by a half-length to Conduit, Presious Passion will command ample respect in Saturday's Sheema Classic. The Sheema, along with the Duty Free, is one of two $5 million races on the Dubai World Cup undercard at Meydan Racecourse.



Presious Passion will take his customary position at the front in the 1 1/2-mile Sheema, but the question is whether his speed will be an advantage or whether the stretch run of about five-sixteenths of a mile, much longer than American standards, will work against him.

"I'm a little concerned with the long stretch, but we'll give it a go," his trainer, Mary Hartmann, said. "If he gets on a mission like the United Nation, there's no telling. He doesn't come back. He digs in and rebreaks. We had to come take a shot."

Presious Passion led by as many as 20 lengths in the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park last summer and won by two.

The competition in the Sheema is just as scary for Hartmann and owner Patricia Gennarzio as the length of the stretch. The field features the second-, third-, and fifth-place finishers from the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe last October: Youmzain, Cavalryman, and Dar Re Mi. Dar Re Mi was later third in the Breeders' Cup Turf, ahead of fourth-place finisher Spanish Moon, another Sheema starter.

"It's got great depth," said John Gosden, who trains Dar Re Mi. "It's a fantastic race."

Dar Re Mi has not started since the BC Turf, and has been prepared through a cold and snowy winter in England in recent months. "It's been a tough winter for us," Gosden said. "She's trained fine. I did want to get her ready on the ground she knows rather than get her ready on a flat oval" in Dubai.

The Sheema also includes Jukebox Jury, who won the Group 1 Preis Von Europa in Germany and was second in the Canadian International at Woodbine last year, and Mourilyan, who was third in the $4.9 million Melbourne Cup in Australia last November.

Jukebox Jury has not started since the Canadian, which trainer Mark Johnston says concerns him a "wee bit."

"We've done a lot of work with him at home, so he should be fit."