03/06/2018 11:27AM

Prix Darshaan victory sets up Talismanic for run at Dubai World Cup


If Talismanic handles the Meydan Racecourse dirt track as well as he got over the Polytrack at Chantilly on Tuesday, he could be a major player March 31 in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

Talismanic comfortably won the Prix Darshaan on Tuesday at Chantilly, coming home 1 ¾ lengths in front of Cloth of Stars, who was getting in a run preparing for the $6 million Sheema Classic on the World Cup undercard. Both horses are owned by Godolphin and trained by Andre Fabre.

The competition Tuesday was many, many levels below what Talismanic will face in the World Cup, which has West Coast as the early favorite, and Polytrack plays more like turf than dirt. Moreover, Talismanic has the high knee action often correlated with turf runners. But Talismanic is by Medaglia d’Oro, whose progeny regularly run well on dirt in America, and he has the sort of forward running style that typically is so important in Meydan dirt racing. Talismanic’s win in the Breeders’ Cup Turf last fall was a career-best performance by a fairly wide margin, but his second-place finish to Highland Reel in the Hong Kong Vase on Dec. 10 to a great extent validated it.

Tuesday, under regular pilot Maxime Guyon, Talismanic tracked the leader in this 1,900-meter right-handed race, went to the front about a quarter-mile from the finish, and finished with good energy even while switching leads in the final furlong. The showing surely pleased his connections, and with Talismanic a proven shipper, it’s now mainly a question of how well he handles dirt in Dubai.

Besides West Coast, probable U.S.-based World Cup runners include Forever Unbridled, Gunnevera, and Pavel.

Barring a second straight year of wet weather in Dubai, Cloth of Stars will have to prove he can be as effective on good ground as on softer going, but he also got in an encouraging, useful run Tuesday under jockey Mickael Barzalona.