03/24/2016 2:06PM

X Y Jet ready to fly in Golden Shaheen

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Neville Hopwood
X Y Jet's appearance while training in Dubai (above) has please trainer Jorge Navarro.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – X Y Jet once was a wild horse, unruly and difficult to handle, but he has focused that energy into being a racehorse, channeling his inner demons into brilliant speed on the track. And now X Y Jet looks poised to become the latest American-based winner of the $2 million Golden Shaheen on the World Cup card here Saturday night.

The first Dubai starter for trainer Jorge Navarro and jockey Emisael Jaramillo, X Y Jet breaks from post 2 and faces nine rivals in the Golden Shaheen, run around one turn at about six furlongs. Breaking has been a problem at times for X Y Jet, but if he gets away cleanly Saturday night, say goodbye. At 4, he’s the youngest horse in the Golden Shaheen, and he is running against graybeards like Reynaldothewizard, 10, who won it in 2013. At Gulfstream this winter, X Y Jet has been cooking through 21-and-change quarter-miles. Fractions here at Meydan, timed from a standing start and measured in meters, not feet, are much slower than back home. But that doesn’t mean X Y Jet won’t be rolling.

“This horse is doing so good,” said Navarro, who has been in Dubai nearly two weeks and shipped even before his horse. “Once I saw him come over and ship the way he did, I said to my wife, ‘Okay, now we’re on vacation.’ ”

X Y Jet did all his major work for the Golden Shaheen at home, and Navarro ran him Feb. 27 in the Gulfsteam Park Sprint as a direct prep for Saturday’s race. Despite bobbling at the start, X Y Jet made the lead and shaded 44 seconds for his half, winning by 1 1/4 lengths.

The break – not the lack of race-day medications like Lasix – is the only concern, Navarro said. X Y Jet has stumbled or bobbled in three of his races. Navarro has gate-schooled him twice here this week, and X Y Jet has stood comfortably. And out on the track, the striking gray or roan X Y Jet has stood out, too, his rump as powerful as a Quarter Horse’s.

It’s not just Americans who like him, either: X Y Jet is the heavy favorite in English betting markets, with another American horse, Confrontation, the race’s second choice. Confrontation originally was thought to be headed to the Godolphin Mile, but his stablemate Marking has a spot in that race, and Confrontation, who mainly has been running miles, turns back to six furlongs for the first time since July 2014.

“He’ll be coming from off the pace,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “We’ll have to hope the speed comes back to us.”

X Y Jet is the speed. He’s probably not coming back.

Deep field in Al Quoz Sprint

If the Golden Shaheen has one apparent standout, the $ 1 million Al Quoz Sprint, a five-furlong, straight-course turf dash, has a multitude.

Count among the race’s worthy contenders the amazing 9-year-old defending champ Sole Power, the hard-hitting Hong Kong duo of Peniaphobia and Not Listenin’Tome, the local star Ertijaal, and Lady Shipman, at worst the second-best turf sprinter in North America.

Mongolian Saturday, another American horse, had to be scratched from the race after developing shipping sickness.

Sole Power hardly could have a longer history in the race. He first started in the Al Quoz in 2011, ran in it three more times, and finally won last year on his fifth try. Bred in England and based in Ireland with trainer Edward Lynam, Sole Lower loves to fly down a straight course over firm turf – the conditions he finds at Meydan. He finished third by a head March 5 in his prep for this race, the Meydan Sprint, and should benefit as a closer in a race with an apparent abundance of pace.

“They can’t go too quick in the race, as the faster they go, the more it will suit us,” Lynam said.

Peniaphobia finished second to Sole Power in the 2015 Al Quoz, but his fellow Hong Kong raider Not Listenin’Tome has come in for stronger support Saturday. Not Listenin’Tome has won three of his last seven starts, and those three were his most recent races in five-furlong, straight-course sprints like the Al Quoz. He’s much less effective in Hong Kong going six furlongs around a bend.

The move to a short, straight sprint has worked wonders for Sheikh Hamdan’s Ertijaal, who was extremely impressive in winning two such stakes earlier in the meet. Ertijaal does face his sternest test of the season Saturday, but his stock was boosted when Fityaan, a distant second to him last time, came back to win the Meydan Sprint. Ertijaal hits the ground very hard and might not hold up through a busy schedule, but he has been kept fresh since Feb. 4.

Lady Shipman never runs a bad race but has never run in a race like the Al Quoz, having started only in turning races.

“Straight course, it’s a little different, so we’ll have to see, but she does everything right,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “She’ll be very close to the pace if not on the lead.”

Lady Shipman’s draw in post 13 is of no concern since the crown of the track is where all the riders head in these races, and from her draw, Lady Shipman already is there.

On paper, Goldream, another who likes fast ground and a straight five furlongs, looked like a major contender, but trainer Robert Cowell said Thursday that the horse has not acclimatized in Dubai and probably is not set for a top effort.