DRC Notes | Vol 48 | Dubai Racing Club News & Features

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GLADIATOR KING TO MAKE UAE BOW IN DUBAWI

One of the more promising American 3-year-old sprinters was acquired over the summer and is about to make his UAE bow on the first night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival (Jan. 2). Gladiator King, an impressive winner of the history-laden Hutcheson Stakes (G3) and five-time victor for previous trainer Jaime Mejia and owner Thoroughbred Champions Training Center LLC, will race for Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi on Thursday and the winningest active trainer in Dubai, Satish Seemar.

“He’s coming on well and he’s ready to run his race in the Dubawi,” Seemar said. “Luckily we got him at the right time in the summer and he’s acclimatised well. The American horses take a while to come along and he’s enjoyed our program. We’re pleased with him because he was actually stuck in the quarantine a bit too long, but once he got to Zabeel, he started properly climbing our steps and getting better. He’s been working with some of our better sprinters, like (fellow Dubawi probable) Lavaspin and should only improve from this first race. Lavaspin has had his issues, but is doing well—so it will be interesting to run them both, as (Lavaspin) is a Zabeel-made product and the other is brand new.

“This is my first horse for Sheikh Rashid,” Seemar continued. “I got to meet him at the last Dubai World Cup day and it went from there. Owners like him are really needed in this business. He’s keen, young, intelligent and mature. He really wants to be involved in racing and I hope we can win some races together.”

Gladiator King has earned $258,740 and was a $195,000 Ocala purchase. A son of Dubai World Cup winner Curlin, he also won the Roar Stakes—like the Hutcheson, at Gulfstream Park—and placed in the Chick Lang (G3) on Preakness Stakes Day at Pimlico. Thursday’s 1200m test will be the grandson of Hennessy’s first off a layoff, after having raced 15 times in 8½ months for his previous connections.

“All I’ve seen is improvement, every week, but he will definitely improve from the race,” added assistant trainer Bhupat Seemar. “He’s about 95% fit and the race will bring him forward. We’re still getting to know the horse. We’ll see how he and Lavaspin break and let them do their thing.”

Zabeel won last year’s Dubawi with Raven’s Corner and have taken home the trophy in four of its six runnings, including three with Dubai legend Reynaldothewizard. Possible rivals this year include multiple G3 winner Drafted (second last year), Garhoud Sprint (Listed) winner Ibn Malik, Waady, Alfredo Arcano and Nine Below Zero.

A MOMENTOFMADNESS SEEKS DUBAI SUCCESS

Since taking out his license just eight years ago, trainer Charlie Hills has rapidly proven himself one of the world’s prominent young conditioners—especially with turf sprinters. The winner of G1 contests in five countries and conditioner of swift standouts Battaash and Muhaarar kicks off his Dubai World Cup Carnival with, no surprise, a hard-knocking sprinter in the form of A Momentofmadness. Hills has the 6-year-old gelded son of Elnadim primed for opening night’s $135,000 1000m handicap down the long Meydan Racecourse turf chute.

On Thursday morning, the Tony Wechsler and Ann Plummer-owned bay stretched his legs with an impressive drill on the Meydan training track’s turf course at just past 8:00 a.m.

“I’m obviously looking forward to running during the Carnival and with (A Momentofmadness),” Hills said. “It’s the first time he’s ever travelled and I’m pleased with the condition he’s in over there. He had his first canter (Thursday) morning and we’re happy with him and looking forward to the handicap over five furlongs.”

A winner of eight of his 38 starts, A Momentofmadness has proven a reliable type, finishing in the top three in half his starts, including a good third in the 2018 Prix du Gros-Chene (G2). He enters the DWC Carnival unraced since Sept. 14, when finishing second (of 22 starters) in a Portland Handicap defence attempt. The winner that day, 3-year-old Oxted, is now rated 109, while A Momentofmadness turns the new year at 97.

“He has a good record at Doncaster and I think he bumped into a really good horse that day,” Hills continued. “Dubai has always been the aim since then and I think the track should suit him. He likes five furlongs and fast ground.”

Another sprinter from the Lambourn-based yard set to arrive later today, Dec. 28, for the DWC Carnival is Juddmonte Farms homebred Equilateral, a Listed winner who has held some lofty company in 2019. The 105-rated son of Equiano is a candidate for the 1200m $175,000 handicap (90+) on Jan. 9, as well as 90-105 handicap over the same distance on Jan. 16.

ALFREDO ARCANO LEADS MARNANE TRIO

Laurence O’Kane and Melanie Marnane’s hard-trying sprinter Alfredo Arcano will lead a well-handicapped trio of David Marnane-trained horses into the 2020 Dubai World Cup Carnival. A regular at the 10-week international showcase, the Irish conditioner is optimistic that said triad (completed by Freescape and Settle for Bay), will be competitive this season. All are expected to arrive later today, Dec. 28.

Alfredo Arcano will start things off on opening night (Jan. 2) when he clashes with the best local sprinters in the Group 3 $200,000 Dubawi Stakes—his first try on dirt. In 40 starts, he has nine wins and exits a smart victory on Dec. 13 over 1200m on Dundalk’s left-handed all-weather course.

“I just want to get him started and he’s such a nice, ultra-consistent horse,” Marnane said. “He’s as good a horse as (locally G3-placed) Tato Key was last year and I’ve wanted to try him on the dirt. He ran very well at Dundalk.”

Marnane continues on Jan. 9 with improving Freescape, who races for City Equine Syndicate and comes to Dubai for a third consecutive winter. Soon to be five, the son of Dubai Turf (G1) winner Cityscape also exits a victory in December at Dundalk—his over a mile on Dec. 6. From 20 starts, he has three wins and has acquitted himself well in his six Meydan tries, including a third in the Meydan Classic (Listed) as a 3-year-old in 2018.

“Freescape will run on the second night and won his prep very easily,” Marnane said. “The form worked out well and a horse he beat (Yuften, third) won the other day. Last year he was running off 97 and he was beaten and then had to wait four weeks. He also had two very wide draws last season. Now, he’s back at a good rating and he’s a more furnished, stronger horse. He saw the mile out really well the other day and won a very competitive Dundalk handicap, so hopefully he does the same in Dubai. He loves the place.”

The highest-profile of the trio is McGettigans Management Services and Mauice Casey’s Settle for Bay, thanks to his popular victory in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot 2018. Given a six-month break following a failed defence attempt in June, he returned with an eighth of 12 last out at Dundalk on Dec. 20. Last season, he ran twice at the DWC Carnival and failed to factor.

“He’s been start-stop since he won the Hunt Cup and it’s been difficult to get two runs together with him,” Marnane said. “He came back and raced the other night and needed that run, but it was good to blow the cobwebs off him. He will look at the third week (Jan. 16) of the Carnival. There’s a ($175,000 90+) mile handicap. He will be coming back a well-handicapped horse and if we can get him back anywhere near his best, he’s going to be very competitive.”