01/24/2006 12:00AM

Tropical Star, Botanical meet


Tropical Star and Botanical will square off Thursday night at Nad Al Sheba in the Group 3, $200,000 Al Shindagha Sprint, the first local step on the road to the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen on March 25.

Second and third behind Saratoga County in last year's Golden Shaheen, both are proven performers over Nad Al Sheba's straight six-furlong dirt course, but both are returning to action after long absences.

Tropical Star, third behind Estimraar in this race last year, has not run since the 2005 Golden Shaheen, while Botanical, an easy six-furlong allowance winner in his American debut at Belmont last June, has been away since Sept. 5.