Group 2 Godolphin Mile:
The Godolphin pair of Gayego (#13) + Two Step Salsa (#4) gives the house a strong hand. Two Step Salsa, a son of Margaux’s new sire Petionville, figures to set the pace, and the Gilded Time colt Gayego will attempt to run him down. Both were impressive winners at Nad Al Sheba this year. Kalahari Gold (#6) has won 4 of 6 starts, all on turf, but has a chance if he takes to dirt. Saudi-bred longshot Al Morhij (#7) has won back-to-back metric miles at Janadriyah in fast times and looks to give Saudi King Abdullah’s home-breeding program an international boost.
Group 2 UAE Derby:
Godolphin’s Street Cry colt Desert Party (#5), with Kentucky Derby aspirations, is the horse to beat. Twice a winner at Nad Al Sheba this year, the colt was particularly impressive in the Group 3 UAE Guineas, which he won by 4+ lengths. Only trainers Saeed bin Suroor and Mike de Kock have ever won this race, and de Kock doesn’t have starter this year, while bin Suroor has two others aside from the choice. One of them, the Distorted Humor colt Regal Ransom (#1), has finished second to stablemate Desert Party twice this year and is in with a shot to upset. Saudi-bred longshot Lelah Dorak (#3) is 4 for 5 and last out won a Saudi Group 1 over 1600 meters in 1:35.35 at Janadriyah — the second-fastest time for the distance at the track this season behind Al Morhij’s 1:35.29. The Jerry Barton-trained Tale of the Cat colt Naval Officer (#12) will be running at the end, while his stablemate, the very rank front-runner So Shiny (#7), an Indygo Shiner filly who won the UAE 1000 Guineas, figures to be his rabbit.
Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen:
Big City Man (#2) has won 5 of 7, including 2 of 3 at Nad Al Sheba. Last out he was a good second to Gayego. This race has been his main target. Hong Kong invader Lucky Quality (#4), a son of Elusive Quality, is 4 for 4 on all weather and has run some fast times against questionable opposition. Indian Blessing (#12) is all class and loves the trip but will have to contend with colts for the first time. Diabolical (#3) is coming back to form and will have an ideal set up.
Group 1 Dubai Duty Free:
Group 1 winner Archipenko (#10), a son of Kingmambo, prepped for this race with a terrific win at Nad Al Sheba in the Group 3 Zabeel Mile and figures to move forward. Paco Boy (#13), also a Group 1 winner, is 7 for 10 but has never raced this far. A son of Desert Style, he’ll be rated well off the pace and will make a run — and it says here that he’ll get the trip. Gladiatorus (#2) is the “now” horse; he’s 2 for 2 at Nad Al Sheba, won the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort last out by 5+ lengths in sensational style, and has blossomed under trainer Mubarak bin Shafya. The Japanese mare Vodka (#3) is a proven international performer who can take it all on any given day. Jay Peg (#15) won the race last year and has a chance to hit the frame.
Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic:
The Dalakhani filly Deem (#9) is 4 for 5, has defeated older colts, including King’s Cup winner Muller in her first start, is bred for the trip, and could be something special. Her only loss to Front House at Nad Al Sheba, I think, was the result of wheeling her back too soon after winning the Group 3 Cape Verdi. Front House (#1), another filly, by Sadler’s Wells, defeated colts here over the trip in the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold. Youmzain (#6) was second to Zarkava in the Arc last out. Doctor Dino (#13) is always there. Group 1 winner Quijano (#10) was fourth here last year and was second to Front House last out.
Group 1 Dubai World Cup:
Trainer Neil Bruss has been aiming South African-bred Paris Perfect (#13) for this race for a long time, and so far, so good. The grandson of Mr. Prospector was second last out in the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup (King’s Cup) over 2400 meters to Muller, and before that he’d won 6 of his 8 starts. Robin Bruss, Neil’s brother, pointed out to me that his rider was three pounds over weight in the King’s Cup and was beaten a half-length over a trip that wasn’t his best, so he’ll appreciate the cutback to 2000 meters. The Indygo Shiner colt My Indy (#14) hasn’t done anything wrong this year, is 2 for 2 at Nad Al Sheba, including a win over Asiatic Boy, and is in top form. Asiatic Boy (#4) loves the course, was second to Curlin in the race last year, and last out won the Group 3 Al Maktoum Challenge (Round 3) by 2+ lengths from Happy Boy. Joe Louis (#9) or Muller (#11) could get a piece.