03/28/2009 11:00PM

Well Armed could make noise back in States


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Well Armed did not suffer the Dubai bounce after his third-place finish in the World Cup last year, winning his first start back in the U.S., the July 19 San Diego Handicap. If he comes out of his blowout victory in Saturday's World Cup in similar fashion, Well Armed should be a major player in the handicap division beginning sometime in early or midsummer - especially if he is pointed to dirt races.

Trainer Eoin Harty took an early Sunday flight out of Dubai, but a half-hour after the World Cup he mentioned two possible races to which Well Armed could be pointed: the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 11, and the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill on June 13. Harty also told Nad Al Sheba publicity staff that a return run in the San Diego was possible.

Meanwhile, fifth-place finisher Albertus Maximus came out the World Cup with an inflamed right tendon, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Sunday. Albertus Maximus tried to lug out much of the trip Saturday, and did not look like the same horse who had won the Donn Handicap in his last start. McLaughlin said Albertus Maximus would be shipped to New York, then on to Kentucky for a thorough veterinary examination.

In any case, Harty said he would keep Well Armed apart from Colonel John, another older horse owned by WinStar Farm. Harty is based in California, which no longer has major-venue dirt racing, but both Harty and jockey Aaron Gryder said this week that the horse was better on dirt than synthetic tracks. WinStar co-owner Bill Casner said Saturday night that he wanted to come back to the 2010 World Cup, which is supposed to offer a $10 million purse, and probably will be contested over a synthetic track at the new Meydan Racecourse. Six-year-old Well Armed was gelded at 3.

Well Armed's 14-length pasting of his nearest rival in the $6 million Dubai World Cup Saturday night broke the stranglehold more local interests had held on the card. Godolphin, the Dubai-centered stable with Sheikh Mohammed at its heart, had swept the top two placings in the night's first two Thoroughbred races, when Two Step Salsa and Gayego finished one-two in the Godolphin Mile, and Regal Ransom beat Desert Party in the UAE Derby. The Saudi Arabia-based Big City Man then captured the Golden Shaheen, before two more Dubai-based horses, Gladiatorus and Eastern Anthem, won the night's pair of $5 million grass races.

Well Armed turned the evening's dirt form upside down in more ways than one. Where most of the night's previous dirt winners and runners-up had raced in the U.S. before being imported to the Middle East, Well Armed is a U.S. horse who had once been based in Dubai. That was the winter of 2005-06, when Well Armed was sent here from England by trainer Clive Brittain to start in the UAE Derby; start he did, but Well Armed finished 11th, and didn't race again for 19 months.

Well Armed was bred by WinStar and is a son of their stallion Tiznow. He was not sold as a young horse because of a conformation defect (Well Armed toes in) and was sent to England because Casner believed turf or synthetic-surface racing would benefit the horse. But Well Armed ran into problems anyway. He came out of the UAE Derby with a chipped knee, then, while recovering in Kentucky, he fractured his hip in a stall accident. His road to recovery was lengthy, and Saturday's $6 million World Cup win was a career high point for Well Armed.

Well Armed almost certainly benefited from a speed-biased racetrack, but took full advantage of the circumstances, while the other Americans in the World Cup showed little. Besides Albertus Maximus, Arson Squad was in tight quarters and badly jostled racing down the backstretch, and finished 11th. Anak Nakal never picked up his feet, and was last.

Local hope Asiatic Boy was a bust, finishing 12th in the World Cup, and capping a forgettable night for trainer Mike de Kock, who won two races on the card last year. De Kock had 10 entries in four races Saturday, but the best finishes among his horses were a pair of fifths. In the Sheema Classic, de Kock-trained runners took ninth, 11th, 13th, and 14th.

Regal Ransom and Desert Party bound for U.S.

Simon Crisford, racing manager for Godolphin, said the one-two finishers from the UAE Derby, Regal Ransom and Desert Party, both would be shipped to Kentucky, probably on April 7. Crisford said that a decision would be made in coming weeks whether to run both horses in the Kentucky Derby, or point one for that race and possibly the other for the Preakness Stakes. Both Regal Ransom and Desert Party are sure to qualify for the 20-horse Derby field in terms of graded stakes earnings, since Saturday's race was worth $2 million.

Regal Ransom showed talent last summer winning his career debut at Saratoga, but Crisford acknowledged that his win Saturday night was surprising. Desert Party had beaten Regal Ransom by almost five lengths when both horses last had raced, in the UAE 2000 Guineas on Feb. 12. Jockey Frankie Dettori said Desert Party was "flat" on Saturday night, but track conditions probably played a role, too. Regal Ransom broke from the rail and went straight to the front, and all four dirt winners Saturday raced on the lead, with off-the-pace horses struggling to make up any ground. Desert Party did not race that wide, but his inability to catch Regal Ransom in the stretch could well have been bias-related.

The time for the 1,800-meter race (about 1 1/8 miles) was 1:50 on a track that produced two quick times, making this the slowest UAE Derby by more than a full second since 2005.

Gladiatorus and Eastern Anthem have European agenda

Saturday's two surprise turf winners, Gladiatorus and Eastern Anthem, will rejoin the Godolphin stable and trainer Saeed bin Suroor for anticipated European campaigns this summer. The two horses weren't stabled with Godolphin at the Al Quoz training center this winter, and were based at a rural training center called Marmoon with trainer Mubarak bin Shafya, who had never trained a Thoroughbred until this winter in Dubai. Each ran in the name of one of Sheikh Mohammed's sons Saturday night.

Gladiatorus led almost all the way to win the $5 million Duty Free under apprentice jockey Ahmed Ajtebi, an Emirati from Dubai who was riding in his first World Cup races on Saturday. A race later, Ajtebi made a wide move on the far turn after racing last of 15 behind a slow pace in the Sheema Classic, and still got up to win by a nose. Ajtebi rode camel races until he was 14, and converted to horses at the urging of Sheikh Mohammed, he said.

Presvis showed great promise finishing second in the Duty Free, which was his first start in a group race. Stuck with post 17, Presvis left the gate slowly by design, and was taken straight to the rail by jockey Ryan Moore. He finished far faster than any other horse in the race, and might have gotten much closer to the winner with a better draw. Trainer Luca Cumani said Presvis would be considered for a race in Hong Kong for his next start.

Marsh Side had the best showing among the four Americans in the turf races, finishing a solid fifth in the Sheema Classic. Red Rocks was 12th in the same race, while Kip Deville finished 10th, and Hyperbaric 14th in the Duty Free.