02/08/2017 10:55AM

Really Special should be tough in UAE 1000 Guineas

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Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club
Really Special easily won her first start on dirt last month in UAE 1000 Guineas Trial.

Really Special looked very much like the best 3-year-old dirt filly in Dubai when she comfortably won the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial on Jan. 19, and if she is, she will take all kinds of beating Thursday night at Meydan Racecourse in the $250,000 UAE 1000 Guineas itself.

Really Special is one of 11 3-year-old fillies entered in the UAE 1000 Guineas, contested around one turn at 1,600 meters, or about one mile, as the fifth of seven races Thursday at Meydan. Post time for the featured UAE 1000 Guineas is 11:50 a.m. Eastern, with the card scheduled to start at 9:30. The seven races, the last six for Thoroughbreds, will be streamed and made available for wagering at DRF Bets.

Trained by Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin, Really Special, a daughter of Shamardal, won on an all-weather track and on turf in her two starts in England last fall and made short work of the local Guineas trial in her dirt debut last month. After tracking the leaders in that seven-furlong race, Really Special easily made the front in the homestretch and went on willingly to win by 3 1/4 lengths under Christophe Soumillon. Soumillon must ride Fursa, however, in the Guineas, and Jim Crowley gets the mount Thursday.

Really Special won over a mile in England and should have little trouble getting the added furlong Thursday, and she is easily the race’s most likely winner, albeit at a short price.

One mildly interesting alternative is Fursa, an Australian-bred who campaigned strictly on turf last year in South Africa, where she won half of her six starts and finished second in Group 1 competition to end her campaign. Trained by Mike de Kock, Fursa is by the American sire Hard Spun and out of a Red Ransom mare and thus has more than a hint of dirt in her pedigree, but her best races have come at about six furlongs, and even if Fursa can handle the surface, there is no certainty that she gets the distance.

De Kock tamps down expectations

Trainer Mike de Kock, nearly always a force at the Dubai World Cup Carnival, has by his standards been somewhat quiet so far this winter. And de Kock, quoted on his website, suggests that his stable is not on the verge of a breakout.

“We don’t have the firepower to be as competitive as usual at this Carnival,” de Kock said. “We just haven’t got the stock at the moment; our older horses are well in their place, and the competition gets stronger every year.

“Things are not looking that good for the rest of the term; barring Mubtaahij, Fawree, and perhaps Noah From Goa, we’ll be lucky to have runners on World Cup night. Racing here on sand is also impossible without the right horses. You can’t come from behind to win. Without a speedy horse to race on the pace, you have little or no chance.”

World Cup nominations out

Arrogate tops a list of 168 horses nominated to the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 25.

In total, there were 779 horses from 22 countries nominated to the World Cup races, according to the Dubai Racing Club. That’s up from the 709 horses nominated to World Cup races in 2016 at the initial stage. There also are three supplemental nomination deadlines: by Feb. 8 for 0.1 percent of a race’s purse, by March 6 for 1 percent of the purse, and by March 20 for 10 percent of the purse.

Arrogate’s status for the World Cup hasn’t been finalized. Trainer Bob Baffert initially suggested that Arrogate wouldn’t be sent to the race, but in the days after Arrogate easily won the Pegasus World Cup on Jan. 28, Baffert called Dubai “an option” for Arrogate. Baffert has said he plans to send Hoppertunity, who was third in the race last year, back for another World Cup start.

The American nominees to the race also include Songbird and Dortmund.