DRC Notes Vol 58 | Dubai Racing Club News & Features

• IMPERIAL HINT FLIES IN SHAHEEN BREEZE
• KEW GARDENS TO LEAD AIDAN O'BRIEN ARMY
• WAADY HAS AL QUOZ ASPIRATIONS

IMPERIAL HINT FLIES IN SHAHEEN BREEZE

Raymond Mamone’s $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News (G1) favourite Imperial Hint had his last serious work at Meydan toward the 2020 edition of the world’s richest dirt sprint, breezing 800m (four furlongs) on Thursday morning in 47 seconds flat under exercise rider Jose Contreras. The Luis Carvajal Jr. trainee broke off at the 800m pole and went his first 400m in about 24 seconds before finishing up final 400m down the Meydan stretch in about 23 seconds. His connections hope he can improve upon an off-the-board finish last out in the $1.5 million Saudia Sprint in Riyadh, as well as a third in last year’s Shaheen as the favourite.

“Jose was really impressed with the work and so was I,” Carvajal said. “He hadn’t worked him before and said he went fantastic and his gallop-out looked great. I couldn’t be there, but Riley Mott gave me a great video. It seems like he really does like that track, unlike in Saudi, where I knew early that he wasn’t liking it. (Joel) Rosario was going after him to get involved after he broke and I knew right away were in trouble. Usually he just gets into the race. That track is deep and I think you need horses who are bigger with bigger feet and heavier (bodies).

“He seems to like Meydan and Dubai,” Carvajal said. “I could see that (in the work). He just loves to run and run into the bit and I know I’m in good shape when he works like that. He’ll work again next week; an easy work. He puts a lot into his work, so I try to space them out. He looks effortless, but he is going fast and we like to give him an extra couple days.”

As far as a jockey for the Shaheen, Carvajal said that Joel Rosario and Javier Castellano are the most likely candidates on March 28, but no plans have been made. Carvajal is set to arrive later this week from the USA.

Per their connections, others considered possible for the race other than Imperial Hint are DeFrancis Dash (G3) winner Killybegs Captain, Dubawi (G3) first and second Gladiator King and Truck Salesman, Mahaab Al Shimaal (G3) winner Wafy, Garhoud Sprint (Listed) winner Ibn Malik, Palos Verdes (G2) victor Captain Scotty and Saudia Sprint runner-up Matera Sky.

KEW GARDENS TO LEAD AIDAN O'BRIEN ARMY
Coolmore’s multiple Group 1 winner Kew Gardens will likely be making his 2020 debut in the $1.5 million Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors (G2) on Dubai World Cup night, per Aidan O’Brien, leading a strong team for the Irish-based outfit. It will be the bay 5-year-old’s first test outside of Europe after finishing off his 2019 season with arguably his most triumphant victory, cracking the mighty Stradivarius’ 10-race win streak in the British Champions Long Distance Cup (G2) at Ascot in October.

“I’m very happy with Kew Gardens,” O’Brien said. “It’s more possible at the moment that he’ll go for the two miles. He was at Dundalk (Stadium) recently (for a piece of work) and we’re very happy with him.”

With six wins from seventeen starts, the Aidan O’Brien trainee has faced and beaten many of Europe’s best, winning over distances from 1600-3000m. In a busier campaign at three, the strong son of Galileo showed his affinity for stamina tests by capturing his first Group 1 victory in the Grand Prix de Paris and later the classic St. Leger (G1) over Dee Ex Bee, Old Persian and Loxley. In the Dubai Gold Cup, he will likely face a formidable field, including defending champ and 2018 Melbourne Cup (G1) winner Cross Counter, as well as Call The Wind, Mekong and Charlie Fellowes-trained Prince of Arran, who defeated said Godolphin colour-bearer in last month’s Longines Turf Handicap in Saudi Arabia. DWC Carnival runner Spanish Mission, as well as the locally based quartet of Dee Ex Bee, Ispolini (runner-up in 2019), Mountain Hunter and Secret Advisor are also all under strong consideration.

Ballydoyle could have a handful of others coming for the races, including Investec Derby (G1) winner Anthony Van Dyck and globetrotting star mare Magic Wand.

“Anthony Van Dyck and Fleeting are likely for the ($6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic) and Magic Wand has come out her (unplaced finish in the Saudi Cup) very well and the plan at the moment is that she will go in (the $6 million Dubai Turf), as well. I’m not sure if Sergei Prokofiev will get into the (Al Quoz) Sprint, but he will likely go if he does. I’m waiting to see who is accepted into the ($2.5 million UAE) Derby, but plan to be represented in that.”

WAADY HAS AL QUOZ ASPIRATIONS
HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Doug Watson-trained’s Waady has done virtually everything right this season. Dating back to November, the 8-year-old bay gelded son of Approve has had six starts, including four during the Dubai World Cup Carnival—the most of any horse. His improvement from a 95-rated handicapper to a 107-rated Group stakes winner has been remarkable and his connections are hopeful that more impressive runs are to be seen.

“Obviously, he’s improved to no end this season,” trainer Doug Watson said. “He has run really well over six furlongs on dirt, including a win against a decent handicap field and a good Group 3 effort, and he’s not put a foot wrong since we put him back on turf after that.”

Waady kicked off the DWC Carnival on dirt in the Group 3 $200,000 Dubawi Stakes over 1200m, where he finished a respectable fourth behind Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News (G1) hopeful Gladiator King. In his next start, he showed his versatility by running second by two lengths to Juddmonte Farms’ Equilateral in the $175,000 Dubai Dash (Listed) going 1000m on the turf. He then stepped up to win the $135,000 Reach Handicap on Feb. 13 in gritty style and wheeled back with aplomb one week later to defeat Equilateral in the $250,000 Meydan Sprint (G2)—both also over 1000m.

Before the DWC Carnival, he ran twice during the Racing at Meydan season, including a win over 1200m on dirt and a good second in the Garhoud Sprint (Listed) to Dubai Golden Shaheen-bound Ibn Malik.

“I know horses don’t get better at eight, but he’s running to the level he was when he was four and there isn’t a horse who’s doing better than he is right now,” Watson continued. “He’s had a nice, sound year and is in a good spot. I’d like to get him into the Al Quoz, so we are hopeful that will happen, because he is at the top of his game. Whether it’s mental or physical, we don’t know, but he’s running in a straight line and is coming in fresh and his mind is good.”

The logical next step for this well-seasoned Group 2 winner is the aforementioned $2 million Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments (G1), for which he would need an invitation in the immensely competitive race. All nine previous winners of the Meydan Sprint have earned such, with eight of those competing (bar a 2018 week-of scratch of Ertijaal). Two of those won both races, Shea Shea in 2013 and Blue Point in 2019.

In addition to Equilateral and Waady, the race is shaping up well. Doug O’Neill has confirmed that both Meydan Sprint-placed Blitzkrieg and Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint-winning (and course record smasher) Wildman Jack are pointing toward the race, while fellow US-based conditioners Brendan Walsh (Chaos Theory), Neil Drysdale (Oleksandra) and Peter Miller (Texas Wedge and Ghoul) have been publicized as pointing for the rich sprint. Per Charlie Appleby, Al Fahidi Fort (G2) winner Glorious Journey is under strong consideration to cut back down to the six-furlong trip, while Godolphin’s recent $1 million 1351 Turf Sprint runner-up Mubtasim could also head that direction. Per Aidan O’Brien, Sergei Prokofiev is also under consideration.