02/15/2011 1:58PM

Two fillies may rule Al Fahidi Fort in Dubai


The Group 2, $250,000 Al Fahidi Fort, the second of three local stepping-stones to the $5 million Dubai Duty Free at Meydan, is a wide open affair Thursday night, lacking a standout, in which a pair of fillies could steal the show. Sharing the bill with the one-mile turf event are the first two legs of the two-night Meydan Masters jockey competition, in which Calvin Borel will represent the United States.

Raihana will be saddled in the Al Fahidi Fort by the Dubai Racing Carnival’s leading trainer, Mike de Kock. The winner last winter of the UAE Oaks and second to Musir in the UAE Derby, Raihana, an Australian-bred daughter of Elusive Quality, looked sharp on Feb. 10 when she beat males in a 1 1/8-mile turf handicap. Christophe Soumillon, the Carnival’s leading rider, has the call. A second filly, the Mikael Delzangles-trained Thai Haku, has a chance off her neck second to Aspectoflove in the Group 2 Cape Verdi Stakes for females on Jan. 20. An Oasis Dream 4-year-old, she had previously been second versus males in the Group 3 Prix Andre Baboin at Bordeaux.

The first four finishers from the first local Duty Free prep, the 1 1/8-mile, Group 2 Al Rashidiya, are passing on the Al Fahidi Fort. Nine-length Al Rashidiya fifth Bushman, the winner of the Group 3 Diomed Stakes at Epsom in June, would have to improve to have a chance even in this watered-down edition of the Al Fahidi Fort. Derbaas is on a three-race winning streak against lesser for Rashid Al Raihe and is coming off a win in a course-and-distance handicap.

Perhaps Our Giant, like Raihana an Australian-bred trained by de Kock, can make his presence felt. The winner of the one-mile, Group 1 Horse Chestnut Stakes and the six-furlong, Group 1 Mercury Sprint in South Africa, the Giant’s Causeway 7-year-old was recently fourth in the six-furlong, Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint on Tapeta.

Borel in local debut

Calvin Borel makes his Dubai debut aboard the Al Raihe-trained Haatheq in Leg 1 of the Meydan Masters, a one-mile Tapeta handicap. Three lengths fourth in Raihana’s handicap score on Feb. 10, Haatheq is the second highweight in the 12-runner field at 130 pounds Borel will ride the lowweight Royaaty in the Leg 2, a 1 3/8-mile Tapeta handicap, for Mubarak bin Shafya. A Singspiel 5-year-old, Royaaty won an easier 1 1/4-mile handicap here on Dec. 30. Among those competing against Borel are Frankie Dettori, Olivier Peslier, Johnny Murtagh, Ryan Moore and Maxime Guyon.

◗ The world’s top-rated sprinter, J J The Jet Plane, returns to action seeking his fourth straight victory in a six-furlong Tapeta handicap worth $150,000. The winner of the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint on turf on Dec. 12, J J The Jet Plane is preparing for the Dubai Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup Night, but he is spotting his 12 rivals 15 to 20 pounds.