Meydan Pre-Carnival Notes: Thursday January 4, 2018

Dubai Possibles World Approval, Holding Gold Back to Work; Furia Cruzada Easing Her Way into Carnival; Muarrab Healthy and Back in Top

• Dubai Possibles World Approval, Holding Gold Back to Work
• Furia Cruzada Easing Her Way into Carnival
• Japanese 3-Year-Olds Eye Dubai
• Muarrab Healthy and Back in Top Form
• Silver Look May Try Turf in Cape Verdi; Farook Shows Promise


Live Oak Plantation’s aptly named World Approval, one of the top turf milers on the planet, has arrived back in the barn of multi-national Grade/Group 1-winning conditioner Mark Casse after a brief break at his owner-breeder Charlotte Weber’s farm in Ocala, Florida. The nearly white son of Northern Afleet finished his 2017 season with three consecutive Grade 1 victories in the United States, including a resolute victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) on Nov. 4 at Del Mar.

World Approval has long been considered possible for the US$6-million Dubai Turf (G1) at Meydan Racecourse on Mar. 31, with his conditioner reporting such shortly after his aforementioned victory. The favorite for the Eclipse Award as America’s champion grass horse (crowned Jan. 25), the winner of nine of 20 lifetime starts was joined by fellow Live Oak homebred and Casse stablemate Holding Gold when rejoining Casse’s Florida string at Palm Meadows Training Center last Thursday, Dec. 28.

Holding Gold, a talented and relatively lightly raced Grade 2-winning turf sprinter, was a troubled seventh of 12 last out in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). The son of Lonhro and Grade I-winner In the Gold is under consideration for the US$1-million Al Quoz Sprint (G1) on the same Dubai World Cup undercard as the Dubai Turf.

“World Approval and Holding Gold arrived today at Palm Meadows and should be breezing soon,” Casse said. “Awesome Slew is getting a little more time and will not be coming (to Dubai). His spring goal will be the (Grade 1 US$1.25-million) Met Mile (at Belmont Park on June 9).

“As for World (Approval), he is pointing for the February 10th (Grade 3 US$175,000) Tampa Bay Stakes,” Casse continued. “Holding Gold is pointing toward the (US$50,000) Colonel Power (Stakes) on February 17th at the Fair Grounds (Race Course in New Orleans).”

Multiple graded stakes winner Awesome Slew, also owned by Live Oak, was under consideration for the US$1-million Godolphin Mile (G2).

The Tampa Bay Stakes is slated for 1700m over Tampa Bay Downs’ renowned turf course in western Florida. While World Approval has turned into a 1600m-winning machine in 2017, his versatility is noted, including a victory over 2100m in the United Nations (G1) of 2016. At the Dubai Turf’s 1900m, he has won half his eight tries, including two graded stakes. Additionally, he has proven himself around one Meydan-esque sweeping turn when laughing at a top-class field in September’s Woodbine Mile (G1) in Canada.

The Colonel Power, though modest in purse, is often high in turf sprinter class. A seasonal launching point for graded stakes types in this division, the 2017 edition of the 1100m event featured a clash of Green Mask –arguably America’s top turf sprinter of 2017 before an injury sidelined him pre-Breeders’ Cup– and Hogy, subsequently 11th in said Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

Casse, one of America’s top trainers, has not had a runner in Dubai. Still, his international credentials were solidified in 2016 when his global darling and Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner Tepin made history by winning Royal Ascot’s Queen Anne Stakes (G1).


Trainer Erwan Charpy is in no hurry with three-time Group I-winning mare Furia Cruzada. The seven-time victress from 30 lifetime starts is slowly coming into her fitness this winter and Charpy has expressed confidence that she will return to her best soon enough.

“She came back very light, but she’s doing ok,” Charpy said. “As always, she’s not a great traveler and last time she took a little bit of time to get back to herself. She’s doing alright and right now I don’t have a place to point her yet. We’ll probably not put her into the Maktoum Challenge just yet until she shows what she did last year (in her training). At the moment, we are just catching time to put back some weight on her.

“It was the same last year, so I am not worried,” Charpy continued. “She still needs a little bit of meat and muscle to perform and she’s a filly who can be very hard on herself. We’ll play it by ear. I may even try her on the turf, like I almost did last year.”

In 2017, the Chilean-bred daughter of the Storm Cat stallion Newfoundland made a trio of starts during the Carnival for Charpy and owner Avaz Ismoilov. She was a sharp winner over subsequent Godolphin Mile (G2) victor Second Summer in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) in early February before finishing third to Long River in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (G1) and 13th of 14 in Arrogate’s Dubai World Cup (G1).


While it is quite early to tell which, if any, 3-year-olds will come from Japan for the US$2-million UAE Derby (G2), it is worth noting that they have become increasingly more potent in their presence over the last decade. Such was evident last year when Kiyoshi Hagiwara-trained Epicharis nearly rained on Thunder Snow’s parade, leading from start-to-last jump in the 1900m fixture.

Hagiwara has a new star in the barn in sonorously named Le Vent Se Leve, who has reeled off a trio of facile, if not dominant, victories in his native land. A son of Symboli Kris S., the sizable bay has been visibly impeccable for capable connections over varying track layouts. According to JRA officials, the winner of Japan’s top 2-year-old dirt event –the Dec. 13 Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun at Kawasaki– has both the UAE Derby and Kentucky Derby on his radar, though no concrete plans have been made.

Other Japanese 3-year-olds worth keeping tabs on as the days begin to count down to the Dubai World Cup Carnival and eventually Dubai World Cup night are well-bred Dark Repulser –a Hard Spun-sired half-brother to champion Japanese dirt horse Espoir City– and Don Fortis, a strong-finishing son of Henny Hughes who is eying the Hyacinth Stakes, the same mid-February 1600m event Epicharis used as a prep. Dark Repulser and Don Fortis were fourth and second, respectively, in the Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun.


A fan favorite at Meydan Racecourse, 2016 Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) winner Muarrab turned back the clock and heads at the same time when he romped in his return to the Dubai oval on Dec. 21 in the Listed Garhoud Sprint. The His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned 9-year-old defeated well-regarded Godolphin-owned Charlie Appleby trainee Comicas in the process by six lengths and landed himself squarely back in the local sprinter picture. The victory was the Ali Rashid Al Rayhi trainee’s 14th from 30 career starts.

“He’s doing well and been training well,” said Gilani Dissiqui, assistant trainer. “He is galloping very well. He had some issues with his fetlock, so he had (time off) at Dubai Stable and they took very good care of him.”

A gelded son of Oasis Dream, the good-looking charge will now prepare for the expected ascension in class through the Dubai World Cup Carnival, with an end-goal obviously being a return to the Dubai Golden Shaheen. His likely next target is the newly upgraded Dubawi Stakes (G3) over the same 1200m trip as the Dubai Golden Shaheen and Garhoud.

“The Dubai Golden Shaheen is obviously the goal,” Dissiqui continued. “His race the other day was very good, where he had a good break and finished very well. Since he got back with us, he has been feeding well and is very happy, so we will try to keep him happy.”


Trainer Erwan Charpy has expressed contentment in the way Silver Look has been training in the mornings and may give the daughter of recently deceased Archipenko an opportunity on her sire’s favorite surface.

“I may try her on the grass in the (Grade 2) Cape Verdi (on Jan. 25),” Charpy said. “She’s a very good Argentinian filly and won a Group 2 over a mile there. The Cape Verdi may be her first run. It is against the fillies and that’s one of the reasons why we may try her there.”

In her native land, the Avaz Ismoilov-owned gray mare won a pair of Group 2 events and placed in two Group 1 races. She carries the same colours as fellow South American Furia Cruzada, who landed last year’s Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) in her Dubai bow.

“All is going well,” Charpy said of his yard heading into the Dubai World Cup Carnival. “Our horses are looking well and they’re performing. We have not been lucky with the (post) draw in a lot of our races, but hopefully we will be soon.”

Charpy also mentioned another recent gray acquisition in ex-Charlie Hills trainee Farook, who impressively ran away with a 1200m handicap on Dec. 29 at Jebel Ali by 4¼ lengths. A well-built son of Raven’s Pass, he flourished in his first try over the dirt.

“It was good to get a win, but he has a long way to go,” Charpy said. “He ran very well over the dirt, but right now he is only an 80 (rating). He’ll run again at Jebel Ali and then we’ll see.”

Owned by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, the newly turned 4-year-old has finished in the top two in eight starts and four of five starts since being gelded.