Updated on 09/16/2011 6:58AM

Tempera returns in Dubai stakes


Tempera makes her much anticipated 3-year-old debut at Nad Al Sheba on Thursday night in the $250,000 UAE 1000 Guineas, a one-mile dirt race in which she will face five seemingly outclassed opponents.

The American champion 2-year-old filly by virtue of her impressive victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, will face Seba, another Godolphin runner, who finished nine lengths behind Imperial Gesture in the Moonshell Mile on Feb. 24.

As Imperial Gesture was 1 1/2 lengths behind Tempera in the Breeders' Cup, victory for Tempera who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori, appears to be little more than a formality. However, she could be tested by another stablemate, Infinite Spirit, a Maria's Mon filly who beat Seba by 3 3/4 lengths in a 7 1/2-furlong dirt allowance at Nad Al Sheba on Jan. 31.

"It's a starting point for her," said Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford of Tempera. "She has looked well in the mornings and this has always been her opening goal. After this we will, of course, leave all options open, but she is eligible for the UAE Derby."

Crisford did not leave out the possibility that Tempera could still be Godolphin's representative in the Kentucky Derby, for which the 1 1/4-mile UAE Derby on March 23 will serve as the key prep for Godolphin's 3-year-old prospects.

Commenting on Essence of Dubai, recent winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas, Crisford said: "He would have to improve before we would consider him a Kentucky Derby challenger, but at this point he is the most advanced of all of our Derby candidates."

Godolphin will have a number of runners in the UAE Derby. In addition to Essence of Dubai and, possibly, Tempera, Crisford said the stable will start Ibn Al Haitham and Moon Ballad, a recent 6 1/4-length winner of a 1 1/8-mile allowance over Opportunist and Expect.

But do not expect to see the much ballyhooed King's Consul in the UAE Derby lineup.

"He is still a long way off from a race," Crisford said of King's Consul, who won at first asking in a Belmont maiden race in October. "He is moving forward but we are taking our time with him."

None of Godolphin's hopefuls for the Kentucky Derby has distinguished himself this season, raising the question: Could the gates for the Derby spring open without a Godolphin challenger?

"Oh, yes," Crisford said. "If we don't think we have a realistic chance, we will not run just for the sake of running in the race."