03/19/2002 12:00AM

Western Pride is sold to Saudi prince

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - The sale of Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Western Pride to a Saudi Arabian prince means the $6 million Dubai World Cup on Saturday will be without an American-owned runner for the first time in the event's seven-year history. According to a Dubai World Cup publicist, Western Pride was sold Tuesday to Saudi Arabian Prince Faisal bin Khaled bin Abdul Aziz.

Western Pride won nine races and $1,073,819 for owners Carolyn Chapman and Theresa McArthur, and was trained by James Chapman, son of the owner. The 4-year-old colt will run Saturday in the silks of Prince Aziz. Negotiations between the buyer and seller were in motion before Western Pride's departure from California, where early this year he won the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes at Santa Anita.

Jim Chapman has been overseeing Western Pride's training in Dubai for his son. Western Pride, whose form carried him to victories last year in the Grade 2 Ohio Derby at Thistledown and Grade 3 Calder Derby, is expected to set the pace in the Dubai World Cup. As of midweek, Pat Valenzuela was still scheduled to ride the front-runner. Western Pride is a son of Way West purchased for $65,000 in March 2000 at a Florida 2-year-old sale.

Western Pride galloped two miles on the training track Wednesday morning; Caller One, who will defend his title in the Golden Shaheen for Chapman, galloped 1 1/2 miles. Chapman said the horses "are thriving" in Dubai.

Post positions for the Dubai World Cup card were scheduled to be drawn Wednesday. Sakhee, the Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up was among the marquee horses nominated to the Dubai World Cup. He will face a field that includes Agnes Digital, the multiple Group 1 winner from Japan; Street Cry, whose Feb. 28 prep-race win was .05 seconds faster than Sakhee's four days earlier; and last year's Dubai World Cup runner-up To the Victory. Nayef, a Group 1 turf winner was on the fence for the World Cup.

Other horses expected to start on the World Cup card are Breeders' Cup Mile winner Val Royal, and last year's 3-year-old filly champion Xtra Heat.

Desert hail

Take your pick: wind, rain, lightning, or hail. In Dubai, it is all in a day's weather. Mild and dry may be the typical desert climate in late March, but Dubai World Cup week began with conditions unlike any seen since the 1997 World Cup rainout.

Nad Al Sheba track superintendent Steve Griggs sealed the track late Monday. Good thing. A Monday-evening rainstorm, complete with thunder and lightning, lasted an hour. The skies cleared briefly, but at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, Dubai residents were awaken by a fierce hailstorm.

By 5 a.m., the weather had cleared enough so that the track superintendent opened up the outside 20 feet of the Nad Al Sheba track. Griggs left the inside portion of the racetrack sealed, in case of more wet weather, which never arrived. The first horses came onto the track soon after at 5:30, as dawn was breaking.

However, a scheduled workout for Echo Eddie was scrapped at the last minute. Jockey Kenny Black was scheduled to work the Golden Shaheen probable a half-mile, but after consulting by telephone with trainer Darrell Vienna in California, assistant Scott Chaney instructed Black to scrap the work and simply gallop Echo Eddie around the track. Echo Eddie was scheduled for a three-furlong workout Wednesday.

Others did work, including Singapore shipper Palace Line, who drilled a half-mile in 48.40 seconds for the UAE Derby. A 4-year-old by North American standards, he gets into the UAE Derby because he was foaled in the Southern Hemisphere.

German runner Boreal worked three furlongs in 35.97 seconds and goes in the $2 million Dubai Sheema Classic. Helene Vitality, the lone representative from Hong Kong, looked poor while working three furlongs in 39.36 seconds for the Sheema Classic. Brazilian sprinter Cacique Bar worked a half-mile in 55.84 seconds; Dubai sprinter Conroy worked a half-mile in 47.70 seconds.

Where you can bet what

Southern California bettors will have limited opportunity to bet on the Dubai World Cup card. According to officials at Arlington International, which is coordinating wagering and simulcasting, the $6 million Dubai World Cup will be the only Nad Al Sheba race offered at Southern California tracks.

New York City OTB is offering four races - the Dubai Sheema Classic, Golden Shaheen, Duty Free, and World Cup. Kentucky, Florida, and Chicago tracks also will offer all four races. In addition, TVG, YouBet, and ExpressBet will offer wagering on all four races. California, Illinois, NYC-OTB will have advance-day wagering; other jurisdictions have not announced decisions regarding advance-day wagering. Illinois takeout rates apply on the World Cup races, ranging from 17 percent on straight bets, to 25 percent on exotics.

Conroy could be U.S. bound

A top-three finish in the Golden Shaheen by leading Dubai sprinter Conroy may lead to a campaign in the United States, according to his trainer Aditiyan Selveratnam. The son of Gone West, purchased from the Maktoums before he started, has been a project for Selveratnam.

"[The Maktoums] got rid of him because he had problems, but they were minor problems - stifle, hock, hoof. He's a big horse, and when we got him, we didn't rush him," he said. The patience paid off. Three straight wins have propelled him to the head of the local sprint division. "He's a star in Dubai," the trainer said.

Selveratnan, born in Sri Lanka and a Pakistan resident until racing was banned there in 1977, has 43 horses in Dubai. Conroy is owned by Mohammed Al Jamali.

Hills thinks Nayef has a chance

Jockey Richard Hills believes top-class comebacker Nayef, may give Sakhee a proper fight in the Dubai World Cup if given a chance. Nayef, winner of the Group 1 Champion Stakes last fall, is cross-entered in the Dubai Sheema Classic at 1 1/2 miles on grass, which might seem the more appropriate race for a colt who has never raced on dirt.

"I would be a bit worried about the mile and a half first time out," Hills said. "The turf course is riding very spongy, and without a prep race he might not get home. In contrast, I think he has got a terrific chance of winning the big one. He is a horse who has always had a high cruising speed and that is a major plus in dirt racing. Almutuwakel" - who Hills rode to victory in the 1999 World Cup - "was a good horse, but Nayef has more class."

* Grey Memo has recovered from shipping fever and looked healthy in a Tuesday morning gallop for the Godolphin Mile. He will face Blade Prospector and New York Grade 1 winner Peeping Tom in the $1 million race.