03/08/2011 3:45PM

Santa Anita: Dubai You X Y Z continues to step up

Email

ARCADIA, Calif. – When entries were published Sunday for Thursday at Santa Anita, Dubai You X Y Z faced a formidable challenge in the optional claimer over 1 1/8 miles on turf, the day’s fifth race.

As the race draws closer, his job is getting easier.

Hyades, who finished third in the Grade 2 American Handicap and fifth in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes last summer, will miss Thursday’s race, which would have been his first start in more than seven months, because of illness, trainer Ben Cecil said Tuesday.

Make Music for Me, fourth in the 2010 Kentucky Derby and most recently third in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes on Feb. 5, will be scratched in favor of a start in the $1 million Godolphin Mile in Dubai on March 26, trainer Alexis Barba said.

Suddenly, a field of eight is down to six, with Dubai You X Y Z likely to go favored for trainer Mark Tsagalakis, who bred and owns the 4-year-old gelding.

“It’s not often that races like that get easier,” he said.

Dubai You X Y Z has won 3 of 4 starts, including an optional claimer over a mile on turf Jan. 21 in which he was fourth early and pulled clear in early stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Thursday’s race will be the longest of Dubai You X Y Z’s career, which is not a concern for Tsagalakis, 47, who trains eight horses at Hollywood Park.

“He’s shown up every time he’s run and he’s done nothing to make me think he won’t show up again,” he said. “We’ll remain optimistic.”

Brice Blanc rides Dubai You X Y Z.

A win Thursday is likely to result in a stakes appearance for Dubai You X Y Z. It would be quite a leap from his modest start in a $32,000 claiming race for maidens last year, a race he won as a 52-1 longshot.

“If he’s able to do well with this bunch, I don’t see why he doesn’t deserve a chance to test the deeper water,” Tsagalakis said of a potential stakes.

Ace of Aces and Bogie are capable of winning. Ace of Aces, second in the 2010 Baffle Stakes for turf sprinters, won an allowance race on the hillside turf course Jan. 29. Bogie placed in two stakes for 3-year-olds on turf last spring.