01/28/2015 6:27PM

Vercingetorix heads de Kock trio in Al Rashidiya


There are some familiar names — and very good horses - on the Thursday card at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, with Vercingetorix’s appearance in the Group 2, $200,000 Al Rashidiya Stakes highlighting the action.

The Al Rashidiya, carded for about 1 1/8 miles on turf, is race 6 on a seven-race card co-featuring the Group 2, $200,000 Cape Verdi, a one-mile turf stakes for fillies and mares. The Cape Verdi, race 4, has a scheduled post time of 11:30 a.m. Eastern, while the A Rashidiya goes at 12:40 p.m. and first post is 9:40 a.m. Live-streaming video and wagering are available at DRF Bets. 

:: DUBAI WORLD CUP CARNIVAL: Get PPs, watch Thursday’s Meydan card live

Vercingetorix had an excellent 2014 Dubai season, winning the Group 1 Jebel Hatta Stakes and finishing second behind a tour de force from Just A Way in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (now called the Dubai Turf). A South African-bred who is 6 on Northern Hemisphere time, Vercingetorix last raced in April, when he finished a good third at Sha Tin in Hong Kong in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

Vercingetorix is one of three entrants in the race for trainer Mike de Kock, who also two other capable runners, Mujaarib and Sanshaawes. Sanshaawes is the only one of the three with a recent race, a fourth-place finish Jan. 5 in the Singspiel Stakes, another nine-furlong grass race. Sanshaawes was switched to all-weather racing last winter to have a try in the World Cup, but he is a capable turf performer who may be dangerous and slightly overlooked Thursday.

Mujaarib won the 2014 Al Rashidiya while making his first start after a long layoff, but was stretched out in distance for two subsequent races, and is starting for the first time since late March — a tough read. Vercingetorix has the highest ceiling of the three, but his major goal surely is the Dubai Turf in late March, and he is unlikely to be anywhere near his peak Thursday.

Godolphin’s hope — and of course the powerhouse stable  has one — is True Story, who easily won the Singspiel Stakes in his Dubai debut earlier this month. The 4-year-old True Story showed fairly high class in Europe, appeared to relish the firmer going at Meydan, and could prove too much to handle - on this night, at least — even for three de Kocks.

The Cape Verdi has far less quality, looking more a Group 3 or listed type race. Anahita and Energia Fribby might wind up the two favorites, but neither has raced before in Dubai and both return following layoffs of several months. 

Race 7, a high-level turf handicap, drew a large, deep field that includes familiar and established Dubai runners Mushreq and Hunter’s Light. Mushreq, returning from a break, finished second earlier this month in the Singspiel and probably will be favored Thursday.

American fans may recall Artigiano’s second-place finish in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita. He goes in race 1, his dirt debut, and Artigiano, by Distorted Humor and out of an A.P. Indy mare, is bred for the surface switch.