One of the most impressive winners on last year’s Dubai World Cup card, Vivlos is aiming toward a defence of her title in the $6 million Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (G1). Well-bred, lightly raced and immensely talented, the Japanese-trained daughter of Deep Impact won last year’s event in stylish fashion under a heady ride by Joao Moreira, running down Al Shaqab’s Heshem and Godolphin’s Ribchester in the final 100m. Ribchester would subsequently add three European Group 1 events to his resume and be rated the world’s second-best turf miler in 2017.
According to JRA officials, the half-sister to Japan Cup (G1) winner Cheval Grand remains on schedule to return to Dubai. Trained by Yasuo Tomomichi, she was a disappointing fifth of 18 last out in November’s 2200m Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1), Japan’s premier race for fillies and mares. Markedly more effective over shorter, including the 1800m of the Dubai Turf, she also owns a victory in the 2000m Shuka Sho (G1), the third leg of Japan’s filly Triple Crown.
No rider has been decided yet for her Dubai return. She, like Cheval Grand, is owned by former Seattle Mariner pitcher Kazuhiro Sasaki.
MY CATCH HAS SHAHEEN DREAMS; RAYYA TO OAKS
Trainer Doug Watson expressed great pleasure in the breakout performance of Irish-bred My Catch in last Thirsday’s Al Shindagha Sprint (G3). Sponsored by Gulf News, the 1200m contest was a serious step toward the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen, also sponsored by the leading daily English language newspaper.
“I was really happy with how he ran and he really likes to be down on the rail,” Watson said. “We’d like to go on to Super Saturday with him and hopefully he runs that well again, so we can get into the Shaheen. He’s training very well.”
At age seven, the son of Camacho has found new life after a career with plenty of breaks in training. Owned by Valentin Bukhtoyarov and Evgeny Kappushev, the bay gelding failed to hit the board in last year’s Dubai Golden Shaheen, but entered the race on a three-month rest, unlike this year.
Next on the dirt sprint schedule is the Mahab Al Shamal (G3) on the 10th of March over the same course and distance as both his Al Shindagha Sprint victory and the Dubai Golden Shaheen.
Watson also said that Rayya came out of her second-place effort in the UAE 1000 Guineas (Listed) in top order and he will likely move on to the UAE Oaks (G3) on the 1st of March over 1900m. Such will be her first attempt beyond 1600m and around two turns.
“I was happy with her effort, but wasn’t pleased with her on the night because she was a little more wired,” Watson explained. “She was not as settled as she was in her first two starts. I don’t know that she had her best day, but I don’t want to take anything from (winner Winter Lightning) or Expressiy, who ran well to be third. I’ll look at her over the next couple weeks and look at the Oaks, obviously. I’m pretty sure she’ll get the trip just fine. She’s still growing.”
MIND YOUR BISCUITS MAY GET SECOND PREP
Popular reigning Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News (G1) champion Mind Your Biscuits returned to action this past weekend with a game second in a salty conditioned allowance race at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. The chestnut son of Posse disappointed some fan with his runner-up effort, but trainer and co-owner Chad Summers was pleased with the run.
“It was a very good starting point,” he said. “They ran the first 1200m in 1:08.85 and he got a bit tired, needing the run. He came out of it in good order and we are very much looking forward to defending our title in a very salty renewal of the Golden Shaheen this year. He may have one final prep in the Gulfstream Park Sprint or he will just train up to the race.”
Last year, the multiple G1 winner used the 1300m Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3) as his final prep for Dubai, finishing second to multiple graded stakes winner Unified. On Saturday, he lost to improving Mike Maker trainee Conquest Windycity, a long well-regarded son of Tiznow who was briefly on the Triple Crown trail in 2016 until dusted by Gun Runner in the Louisiana Derby (G2).
STAR-CROSSED COSMO CHARLIE READY FOR FIREBREAK
Whether bad luck in a race, a high-energy attitude that can be hard on his chances or the fact that he has had to go through a pair of gelding procedures, Cosmo Charlie has not had things go exactly optimally over the last year. Still, trainer Doug Watson is confident in the Listed stakes-winning son of Stay Thirsty and his chances in Saturday’s Firebreak Stakes sponsored by Azizi Developments (G3).
Originally entered in last Thursday’s Al Maktoum Challenge R2 (G2) over 1900m, he was rerouted to the 1600m Firebreak after fellow Ramzan Kadyrov colourbearer North America was declared.
“He’s 100% to run in the Firebreak,” Watson said. “I didn’t want him and North America, with similar running styles, to take each other on, plus Heavy Metal was in there, who has a lot of speed. I also thought that a mile may be better (in the Firebreak).
“We gelded him six weeks ago and I think now he’s doing great fitness-wise and come around pretty quick” Watson continued. “He doesn’t like kickback, so the draw will be very important for him, especially with Heavy Metal back in there again.”
Speedy Heavy Metal looks the main danger, while Godolphin’s turf-running G2-placed Bravo Zolo is also entered and must be respected from the high-percentage yard of Charlie Appleby.
Watson also touched on another talented dirt miler in newly acquired G3-placed Kimbear, who has finished first and second in a pair of local handicaps over 1600m. In his Dubai bow, he was a dominant open-length victory, while last out he chased home highly touted Boynton in the Mina Rashid on the 1st of February.
“There’s a race next week over seven-eighths (1400m), but I also might wait until Super Saturday with him,” Watson said. “He’s feeling so well and is tough to control right now (when he trains). I’d like to get one more win with him, as he only has a couple wins so far, so it’s either next week or the (Group 3 Burj Nahar) on Super Saturday.”
WORLD APROVAL STILL LEANING TOWARD DUBAI
Live Oak Plantation’s World Approval returned a winner in his native Florida to the roar of the Tampa Bay Downs crowd on Saturday, winning the US $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes (G3) over well-regarded Juddmonte Farms homebred Forge by the better part of a length. Sitting comfortably in third throughout most of the race, the stalk-and-pounce specialist – for lack of a better term– forged to the front with his rival of similar name chasing him to the wire.
The victory was the son of Northern Afleet’s fourth consecutive and sixth in his previous seven tries, including three G1 wins. Regular jockey John Velazquez was in the saddle and the nearly white charge eclipsed the $3 million mark in earnings ($3,052,363) with what was his 12th career victory from 25 starts.
Afterward, trainer Mark Casse expressed pleasure with the 6-year-old gelding and reigning champion and how he exited the race, saying that Dubai was still on the table. A final decision will be made in the coming weeks for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner.
Live Oak Plantation and Casse team up this coming weekend in New Orleans with another Dubai possible, Holding Gold, who runs in the Colonel Power Stakes over 1100m at Fair Grounds Race Course. A victory would go a long way in securing if the well-bred son of G1 winners Lonhro and In the Gold makes it to the starting gate in the Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments (G1) on the 31st of March.
Casse stated that he’s “waiting to see” how he runs to make a final decision on the G2 winner, who was troubled also-ran in last autumn’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). He drew post 5 of 12 entrants and is the 8-5 morning-line favourite.
QUICK HITS (Japanese Edition): Well-regarded Japanese dirt horse Kafuji Take has been confirmed as aiming toward the Godolphin Mile. The son of Precise End is trained by Sacho Yukubo for owner Mamoru Kato and was last seen finishing a good third in the Negishi Stakes (G3) over 1400m around Tokyo’s left-handed dirt course. Kafuji Take was fifth of 13 after an adventurous trip in last year’s Godolphin Mile… Rey de Oro, reigning champion 3-year-old in Japan, returned with a third place effort in a four-horse photo-finish in Kyoto Kinen (G2) on Sunday. The Kazuo Fujisawa-trained Japan Cup (G1) runner-up remains possible for the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1)… Gold Dream, unplaced in last year’s Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) and subsequently an impressive winner of Japan’s top dirt race, the Champions Cup (G1) in December over Chukyo’s left-handed course, will prep for a possible Dubai return in the February Stakes (G1) over 1600m on Sunday… Talented multiple G2-winning Japanese stayer Fame Game runs this Saturday in the Diamond Stakes (G3) over 3400m, a race he won in 2015 and finished second in 2016, in what could be a possible prep for the Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors (G2). The 8-year-old son of Hearts Cry has done well at the Dubai Gold Cup’s 3200m, having finished second in the 2015 Tenno Sho (G1) at the trip, as well as a 13th of 24 –beaten 5 ½ lengths– in the 2015 Melbourne Cup (G1). He exits a solid second in the Stayers Stakes (G2) at Nakayama on the 2nd of December.
Japanese mare Vivlos wins the 2017 Dubai Turf in magnificent style and is aiming toward a defence in 2018, picture Dubai Racing Club and Andrew Watkins