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Road to Dubai World Cup: ‘Talented’ Talismanic Tremendous in Mornings

Talismanic has turned heads at every step since arriving in Dubai for the Dubai World Cup (Credit: Michael Adolphson)

Get the latest info on the upcoming Dubai World Cup, including news on Talismanic, X Y Jet, Mind Your Biscuits, Reride, and more.

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DUBAI WORLD CUP: ‘Talented’ Talismanic Tremendous in Mornings

Godolphin’s popular painted pupil Talismanic continues to catch the eye with both his gallops and overall demeanor every morning at Meydan Racecourse. The son of Medaglia d’Oro, with his trademark nearly white face, has gone about his business like clockwork, striding out beautifully over a dirt surface the likes of which he has never tried in the heat of competition. Next Saturday, March 31, the Andre Fabre trainee will get his chance as he takes on a likely field of nine others, including two newly crowned American champions, West Coast and Forever Unbridled.

Lisa-Jane Graffard, who manages racing operations for Godolphin’s French branch, is in the camp that so many seem to have adopted. Well-acquainted with the Breeders’ Cup Turf winner, she has grown increasingly optimistic that he can handle his upcoming challenges.

“How Talismanic handles the dirt on his first try in competitive conditions is the big unknown and the hurdle he has to overcome,” she said. “I think it’s worth repeating that he’s the kind of horse that encourages you to try (because) he’s talented, he’s unflappable and he’s adaptable. I would say hopeful rather than confident.”

Meanwhile, Erwan Charpy will take another stab at the same $10 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline with Furia Cruzada, who had a rough trip and preparation going into the 2017 edition. The multiple Group 1 winner had a poor start to her race, involved in the same clash as impossible winner Arrogate, and then faltered.

“She had a bad trip, but she also was very keen all week, and when we took her to the track in the mornings, with all the photographers, she got too excited,” Charpy said. “This year, we are keeping her away more and trying to keep her calm. She’s very fit. She did not get a big break between her fall campaign in France and then coming here, but she’s doing very well. She’s tough.”

Furia Cruzada exits a respectable third in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 behind fellow Dubai World Cup likely runners North America and Thunder Snow.

Dubai World Cup Likely Runners: West Coast, Forever Unbridled, Talismanic, Gunnevera, North America, Pavel, Mubtaahij, Thunder Snow, Awardee, Furia Cruzada

DUBAI TURF/SHEEMA CLASSIC: Japanese Get Acquainted with Grounds

Japan has a strong contingent this year, to say the least, and most of those 14 were on the track on Saturday morning stretching their legs a week out from their Dubai World Cup night challenges.

Two runners who shined in their light work were the Dubai Turf defending champion Vivlos, whose coat was immaculate, and her soon-to-be rival, Deirdre. The past two winners of the Group 1 Shuko Sho each seemed to be well within themselves and taking to their trips well.

On Sunday, the $6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic contenders Satono Crown and Mozu Katchan went to the turf course to acquaint themselves with the local layout at 5:00 a.m. Satono Crown enters as one of the favourites in the 2410m grass affair, and rightfully so, as he’s a multiple Group 1 winner that has faced the best turf horses in the world with great success over multiple seasons. Mozu Katchan is an improving type that must step up her game to compete here.

Also on the track was Real Steel, winner of the Dubai Turf two years ago. Looking well, he galloped over the course within the vicinity of rival and expected Dubai Turf foe Neorealism, who may vie for favoritism in the 1800m race.

Both Satono Crown and Neorealism are trained by heralded Japanese conditioner Noriyuki Hori.

Longines Dubai Sheema Classic Likely Runners: Cloth of Stars, Satono Crown, Rey de Oro, Idaho, Poet’s Word, Hawkbill, Mozu Katchan, Best Solution, Desert Encounter, Khalidi

Dubai Turf Likely Runners: Vivlos, Neorealism, Deirdre, Lancaster Bomber, Real Steel, Crocosmia, Blair House, Janoobi, Monarchs Glen, Trais Fluors, Benbatl, Championship, War Decree, Promising Run, Leshlaa

DUBAI GOLDEN SHAHEEN: X Y Jet Cruises; Mind Your Biscuits Sharp

Rockingham Ranch and and Gelfenstein Farm’s X Y Jet showed no signs of the long trip from South Florida taking anything out of him with a spirited gallop in his first time on the track Saturday morning. Trained by Jorge Navarro, the son of Kantharos rides a three-race winning streak into the Group 1, $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News.


The favorite for the race is banner-mate Roy H, who is co-owned by Rockingham and David Bernsen and is trained by Peter Miller. The reigning champion sprinter in the United States was on the bit during his brief visit to the track and appeared quite keen at times.

Mind Your Biscuits shined on Saturday morning, displaying the affinity that parlayed into a victory in last year’s edition for trainer and co-owner Chad Summers. The conditioner beamed with confidence watching his charge, commenting that he was very happy with how the son of Posse shipped from greater Miami.

Dubai Golden Shaheen Likely Runners: Roy H, Mind Your Biscuits, Muarrab, My Catch, X Y Jet, Jordan Sport, Reynaldothewizard, Matera Sky, Shillong, Wild Dude 

AL QUOZ SPRINT: Music Magnate and Holding Gold Impress

Two of the most impressive physicals in the first two days of International training were easily Music Magnate and Holding Gold. Coming from opposite sides of the world, Australian Music Magnate and American Holding Gold will square off with an expected full field in the Group 1, $1 million Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments on Saturday over 1200m on turf.

“(Holding Gold) looks really good and he’s settled in really great,” said Randi Melton, assistant to U.S. trainer Mark Casse, who will saddle his first starter in Dubai.

Bjorn Baker-trained Music Magnate has long been pointed to the Al Quoz Sprint and appears loaded for bear in his morning gallops. A Group 1 winner already, he could add considerable sheen to his already respectable record.

Current Al Quoz Sprint Possibles (not necessarily invitees): Blue Point, Stormy Liberal, Jungle Cat, Ertijaal, Baccarat, Faatinah, Richard’s Boy, Music Magnate, Librisa Breeze, D’Bai, Declarationofpeace, Washington DC, Intelligence Cross, Hit the Bid, Holding Gold, Brando, Supido, Illustrious Lad, Amazing Kids, Top Score

UAE DERBY: Reride Takes Road Less Travelled

It has been one year, yet it seems like only yesterday that the two best dirt horses in the world came storming down the stretch in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline. Arrogate collared Gun Runner and drove past to an epic victory, but the latter’s connections – trainer Steve Asmussen and part-owner Winchell Thoroughbreds – look to ‘fly the W’ (that’s the ‘W’ on their famous maroon and white silks) this year in the Group 2, $2 million UAE Derby sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group.

Enter: Reride.

Just like Gun Runner, Reride is a son of Candy Ride, and also like his famous former stablemate, he makes up for his smaller stature with formidable grit. He put the signature on such constitution last out in the $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby in Sunland Park, defeating well-regarded Runaway Ghost and earning a 91 Beyer Speed Figure. It was his second stakes win in a row at an off-the-beaten-path track, having also taken the Big Drama Stakes at Delta Downs in rural Louisiana five weeks prior. Now, five weeks’ break again, from one desert to another, he steps up in trip by about 200m and ships across the world to Dubai.

“We just thought that there was an undiscovered road to the (Kentucky) Derby that runs Delta-Sunland-Meydan,” joked David Fiske, racing manager for Winchell Thoroughbreds. “Reride, to this point, has shown himself to be reliable, undeterred by distance, and able to ship. We thought his running style would suit the UAE Derby, and the purse is very attractive. Mr. Asmussen has demonstrated he can successfully take a horse to Dubai.”

Asmussen also trained 2008 Dubai World Cup winner Curlin.

The UAE Derby offers 170 qualification points for the Kentucky Derby in early May, with 100 of those going to the winner.

In other UAE Derby news, the Al Bastakiya winner Yulong Warrior has been repurchased by Zhang Yue Sheng and will run under his Yulong banner on Dubai World Cup night. He remains a Satish Seemar trainee.

UAE Derby Likely Runners: Mendelssohn, Gold Town, Seahenge, Threeandfourpence, Taiki Ferveur, Rayya, Ruggero, Reride, Yulong Warrior

GODOLPHIN MILE: Watson Quartet to Breeze Monday

With little going on post-Sharp Azteca’s scratch from the race, news for the Group 1, $1 million Godolphin Mile sponsored by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum City – District One has been slow. That could change tomorrow, when two-time defending Godolphin Mile-winning trainer Doug Watson sends out his four runners to breeze between 6:00 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Monday morning.

Watson is running recent Group 3 winners Kimbear and Shamaal Nibras, defending champion Second Summer, and Group 2-placed Muntazah.

Godolphin Mile Likely Runners: Heavy Metal, Rosa Imperial, Economic Model, Kimbear, Second Summer, Special Fighter, Musawaat, Secret Ambition, Shamaal Nibras, Adirato, Akito Crescent, Muntazah, Raven’s Corner

DUBAI GOLD CUP: Sheikhzayedroad, An Old Pro

Grade 1 winner and fan favourite Sheikhzayedroad put in a fine gallop on Saturday morning for trainer David Simcock. Assistant conditioner and head traveling lad Ian Russell was on hand to watch the 7:15 a.m. routine move. A Group winner over the local turf course two years ago, the son of Dubawi was third last year in the Group 1, $1 million Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors. He has continued to improve physically since arriving well over a month ago from England.

Also out was Run Time, who will be the first American-trained starter in the 3200m marathon turf event. Trained by Mike Maker, the Bloom Racing Stable and Allen Racing-owned son of Gio Ponti looked well within himself going through a light gallop both Saturday and Sunday. Two races back, Run Time defeated Grade 1 winner Bullards Alley over this distance in the Allen Jerkens Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Group 1-winning Al Sahem looked phenomenal in his breeze down the lane of the main turf course for trainer Mike de Kock, while longshot Janszoon breezed over the training track’s turf course for trainer Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.

Dubai Gold Cup Likely Runners: Big Orange, Vazirabad, Frontiersman, Torcedor, Rare Rhythm, Al Sahem, Dal Harraild, Sheikhzayedroad, Gold Star, Natural Scenery, Los Barbados, Prince of Arran, Run Time, Parviz, Janszoon, Red Galileo 

KAHAYLA CLASSIC: Paddy’s Day Could Get Lucky

American-owned, American expat-trained and based in Dubai, Paddy’s Day has quite the diverse story, but the narrative that keeps playing over and over for the Purebred Arabian is his consistency and gameness in a fight. A two-time winner during the Dubai World Cup Carnival, he will look to improve upon a fourth-place finish last out in the Al Maktoum Challenge R3 when he starts in the Group 1, $1 million Kahayla Classic sponsored by Mubadala on the Dubai World Cup card.

“For me, his schedule has been tough on him,” said trainer Doug Watson. “The horses in America that he was beating up on were probably good, but not as good as these, and he ran hard against them here. That being said, he’s doing just fantastic and the 30 days between races is really going to help him, I hope.

“Last time, I think he was just flat as a pancake,” Watson continued. “He had that month off in the winter (at the end of 2017) and then we had three little pieces of work at home and he came out of the 13-hole to run a huge race in the Maktoum Challenge Round 1 (in January) to start the year. Then he came back and ran his eyeballs out in second round against Barnamaj over a (2200m) trip that was probably a furlong too long.

“The 10 furlongs (2000m) of the Kahayla Classic will be perfect for him and his rest will be good for him. He’s well within himself and he loves this track.”

Kahayla Classic Likely Runners: AF Al Sajanjle, AF Marrah, Al Zahir, Bandar, Barnamaj, Chaddad, Cheik Roque, Darius Du Paon, Mawahib, Nafees, Paddy’s Day, Sniper de Monlau, Tallaab Alkhalediah, Ziyadd, Cakouet de Bozouls

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