• Champions Rey de Oro and Cracksman Eye Sheema
• War Story Bookmarks Dubai World Cup
• Opal Tiara After Cape Verdi Crown
• Zamaam No Stranger to Big Runs on Short Rest
• Hong Kong’s Classic Emperor Carnival-Bound
• Quick Hits: X Y Jet, 1000 Guineas, Singapore, Moqarrab, Kimbear, Salsabeel, Silver Look
CHAMPIONS REY DE ORO AND CRACKSMAN EYE SHEEMA
Reigning Japanese champion 3-year-old and Group 1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) winner Rey de Oro has been confirmed as pointing toward the US$6-million Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) on March 31st, according to his connections and official reports. The son of top stallion King Kamehameha is owned by U Carrot Farm and trained by iconic 11-time national champion conditioner Kazuo Fujisawa, who was eighth in the 2009 Dubai World Cup (G1) with second choice Casino Drive.
Rey de Oro was unanimously voted as champion sophomore of 2017 in his native country, following a season capped by a valiant second in the prestigious Japan Cup (G1) in late November behind Cheval Grand. In that effort, he defeated popular seven-time Group I winner Kitasan Black, who returned to land the Arima Kinen (G1) a month later.
On the other side of the world, the third-rated horse in the world, Cracksman, is being considered for the Dubai Sheema Classic, as well, according to Racing Post reports. Owned by Anthony Oppenheimer, the son of the great Frankel is trained by two-time race winner John Gosden, who landed last year’s edition with Godolphin’s Jack Hobbs.
WAR STORY BOOKMARKS DUBAI WORLD CUP
Loooch Racing Stable, Glenn Ellis and Imaginary Stable’s War Story could be a third horse aiming toward the Dubai World Cup card for accomplished Florida- and New Jersey-based conditioner Jorge Navarro. An excellent fourth last out behind a trio of Eclipse Award finalists –Gun Runner, Collected and West Coast– in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), the son of Northern Afleet is taking aim at the same two races Arrogate won in early 2017, Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) and the Dubai World Cup (G1) nine weeks later. Arrogate finished 2¼ lengths behind War Story in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“My partners really wanted to focus on Dubai we weren’t sure if we were going to run him (in the Pegasus),” Loooch principal owner Ron Paolucci told XBTV’s Zoe Cadman Sunday morning at Gulfstream Park. “As well as he ran in the Breeders’ Cup and as good as he came out of it, with the opportunity to run in the Stronach spot, (we are) looking at where he is in the world rankings. To get to Dubai, we might need to run a good race here.”
Navarro currently has pupils X Y Jet and Sharp Azteca tentatively aiming toward Dubai returns. Owned by Rockingham Ranch and Gelfenstein Farm, X Y Jet was second as the consensus favourite in the 2016 Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) and shoots for redemption. Sharp Azteca, also slated to compete in the Pegasus and owned by Gelfenstein Farm, was third as the favourite in last year’s Godolphin Mile (G2). How he fares going the about-1800m of the Gulfstream Park fixture will likely determine if he is aimed toward the 1600m Godolphin Mile or 2000m Dubai World Cup for ten-times the purse.
OPAL TIARA AFTER CAPE VERDI CROWN
One year after finishing a solid second in the Cape Verdi (G2), The Filly Folly and Sweet Partnership’s Opal Tiara appears primed to do one better this year in the 1600m turf feature, the highlight of Thursday’s Dubai World Cup Carnival card. Trained my Mick Channon, who also bred the filly in partnership, the daughter of Thousand Words enters on a two-week turnaround after rallying to a game fourth, beaten three lengths in the Singspiel (G3) by Godolphin’s Benbatl.
“I was thrilled, really, with her performance,” Channon said. “I thought she’d run well and we’re delighted that we’ve had a good prep and with the way she’s come out. We hope she will come on from that and this was our plan – these two races. We’ll take one at a time and, if all goes alright, she will go on to the Balanchine (G2).
“Last year, when she came back (to England in April), things didn’t go right,” Channon continued. “She ran second in Ireland (in the Group 2 Lanwades Stakes at The Curragh) on heavy ground and then we had very soft summer. We had to give her a break (after that).”
Winner of the Balanchine over 1800m and last of 13 in the Dubai Turf (G1) in 2017, Opal Tiara subsequently ran six times in England and Ireland, collectively, including her aforementioned runner-up effort and a pair of fourths in Group company. She ran against such highly regarded fillies as Roly Poly, Qemah and Aljazzi in the process.
“We’ll see how she goes (on Thursday),” Channon concluded. “We got started back earlier this year and I couldn’t be happier with her. She’s always been a star from day one and is very consistent. I was happy with her run against Benbatl and hopefully she can go forward from that.”
ZAMAAM NO STRANGER TO BIG RUNS ON SHORT REST
It is not usually trainer Erwan Charpy’s style to wheel a horse back on short rest, but Zamaam has twice now enacted such a plan for the former Neil Drysdale assistant. Owned by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, the 8-year-old son of Muhtathir was the victim of an unfortunate trip last out when making his seasonal debut in a 2410m turf handicap on January 11th. Ultimately finishing 13th of 16 under regular pilot Jim Crowley, he returns Thursday at the Dubai World Cup Carnival in the EGA Al Taweelah Trophy over 2810m on the turf, which is slated as the second of eight races.
“In the last race, he had nowhere to go,” Charpy said. “He got galloped into over and over on the far-side and after that he was locked in. There was a horse setting the pace who backed up and the horse beside him was backing up, so he couldn’t move. He wound up in the back and it was over at that point.
“He’s training well and we found last year that he’s a better horse if you don’t give him too much time (between races),” Charpy continued. “He is very tough on the track, which is not typical for a stayer. He came out of the race well and I think he will run well.”
Last year, the six-time winner from 36 starts was a good fifth in the 3200m Dubai Gold Cup (G2) behind Vazirabad on the Dubai World Cup undercard on a mere six days’ rest after impressively taking the Abu Dhabi Championship (G3) over 2200m.
HONG KONG’S CLASSIC EMPEROR CARNIVAL-BOUND
Top Hong Kong all-weather miler Classic Emperor is taking aim on the Dubai World Cup Carnival and optimally Dubai World Cup night, if all goes well for the Li Fung Lok-owned son of Medaglia d’Oro.
A smart winner last out in a Class 2 Handicap going 1650m, the Hong Kong Shipowners Association 60th Anniversary Cup at Sha Tin, on January 13th, the Chris So trainee holds entries for the Firebreak Stakes (G3) on February 17th and Burj Nahaar (G3) on March 10th, Super Saturday. Both of those events are over the 1600m distance at which the American-bred 6-year-old appears to be a specialist.
QUICK HITS – Rockingham Ranch and Gelfenstein Farm’s X Y Jet won Saturday’s Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream Park in dominant style, prompting trainer Jorge Navarro to re-confirm him for the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1)… The one-two finishers from last Thursday’s entertaining UAE 1000 Guineas Trial, Winter Lightning and Rayya, are aiming toward a rematch in the UAE 1000 Guineas on the 8th February after being separated by a nose… Singapore horses will be represented at the Dubai World Cup Carnival for the first time in recent memory when a trio arrives January 27th, led by recent Singapore Gold Cup and Raffles Cup –both Local G1– winner Gilt Complex from the yard of Cliff Brown… Saturday’s split UAE 2000 Guineas Trial is heavy on dirt pedigrees trying the surface for the first time. Chief among them is Godolphin’s Moqarrab, a brilliantly bred son of Speightstown out of a Silver Deputy-sired half-sister to Uncle Mo, one of the top stallions in America… According to trainer Doug Watson, Kimbear has no immediate plans following his impressive victory Thursday Carnival handicap win over 1600m on dirt, while identical verbiage comes from Charlie Appleby regarding Salsabeel, a sharp turf handicap winner over the same distance that evening… Multiple Argentine Group 2 winner Silver Look, according to trainer Erwan Charpy, skipped this Thursday’s Cape Verdi (G2) to focus on longer distances than the 1600m of said event.
One of the fastest horses in the world, X Y JET finished second in the 2016 Dubai Golden Shaheen and is set to come back to Dubai for redemption in the $2M G1 event in March, picture DRC and Andrew Watkins