Having broken his Dubai World Cup Carnival maiden in sensational fashion last Thursday, Dolkong is set to make a quick return and faces the test of his life in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 over 2000M, the feature race of the “Super Saturday” card at Meydan Racecourse.
Trained by Simon Foster, Dolkong made his Carnival-bow in the 1st round of the Al Maktoum Challenge when the pace over a mile set by North America was too hot for him at a distance shorter than he would prefer. The five-year-old ran on well though and got much closer when stepped up to 2000M in handicap company at the end of January, finishing a close 3rd to Salterin Dubai.
Dolkong turned the table on that horse and made no mistake in the Listed Curlin Handicap on February 28th, cruising away from the field in the final furlong to score by a full nine-lengths. It was a second win by a Korea-trained horse in the Carnival, following Main Stay’s victory two years ago and earned the Korea Cup runner-up the right to stay on in Dubai to take his chance on Super Saturday.
Simon Foster, picture Korea Racing Authority
“He felt the run” said trainer Foster, “but he quickly got back to where I want him to be. He’ll be ready to go on Saturday”. He’ll need to be, what with last year’s World Cup winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic 3rd place-getter Thunder Snow using the race as a warm-up before he bids to retain his crown at the end of the month and looking sure to set a harsh pace up front. Belmont Stakes runner-up Gronkowski makes his Meydan debut as does Argentinian star Logrado, while local specialists Capezzano and New Trails are sure to have a say too.
Olivier Doleuze, who has partnered Dolkong in two of his three Meydan outings so far will be in the saddle once more.
Meanwhile, in the United States, KRA Stud Farm owned Knicks Go is in New York and will line-up in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday. The Paynter colt won the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland last autumn before running 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. However, he only managed 5th when favourite on his debut as a three-year-old in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs last month and drops back to a mile as he seeks to acquire Kentucky Derby qualification points.
Knicks Go will have no easy task in New York as undefeated Group 2 winner Instagrand has shipped in from the West Coast as has Bob Baffert’s Much Better. They will all have to contend with New York local Mind Control, winner of the Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga last autumn. A total of eight will go to post in the Gotham Stakes which offers 50 “Road To Kentucky Derby” points to the winner.