BY Andy Villanueva
Three key prep races taking place this morning over at Meydan as the Dubai World Cup is less than two months away. The 2ndRace is a prep for the Dubai Gold Cup being run at the same distance as today’s contest.
Impressive winner on January 10th, Walking Thunder attempts to stamp himself as the leading contender heading into the UAE Derby with three contenders stepping up to face the son of Violence.
North America returns in the 2ndRound of the Al Maktoum Challenge. His biggest test coming from Cosmo Charlie and Leshlaa. American-based Senior Investment steps up in class to face his stiffest test of the Dubai Racing Carnival.
AL NABOODAH HANDICAP
Vazirabad is a three-time winner of the Dubai Gold Cup, a few of his main rivals are in this race. Red Galileoraced in last year’s running of the Gold Cup and ran a respectable sixth. Returned with a solid performance on January 17th, looking to step forward toward another Dubai Gold Cup appearance. Zamaandidn’t make the grade last year during the Carnival and looks to rebound off lackluster performances. This might be his best opportunity to make an impression. Dubhe is lightly raced, furthest he’s run is 1 1/2 mile on a yielding surface. Stiff test and likely gives us a barometer if he can run the 2 mile distance.
UAE 2000 GUINEAS
People came away impressed when Walking Thunderran away with the win against similar rivals on January 10th. As much as everyone would like to believe a win would stamp him as the top 3-year old in Dubai, I’m looking for an effort that sets him up for the UAE Derby. A top-three finish would be a good sign that they are training him to peak for March 30th.
Moshaherwas impressive in Maiden win on Opening Night of the Carnival. He is Walking Thunder’s main competition going forward. Needs a strong effort for consideration, anything but a win would most likely be a disappointing effort for colt.
The most impressive runner on January 24thin my opinion was Estihdaaf. The son of Arch made his dirt debut after having problems handling the turf back on January 10th. Manguzi is considered a contender for the Derby, Godolphin colt nearly ran him done back back on the 24th. Would like to see him move forward off that effort with another strong performance.
AL MAKTOUM CHALLENGE R2
There are at least five horses entered today that could possibly make an appearance on Dubai World Cup night. Either the Godolphin Mile or Dubai World Cup are the targets for these rivals.
North Americabounced back off his horrible performance in the DWC last year. Was a different gelding that entered the starting gate on January 10th. The son of Dubawi was calmer, kinder and listened to his rider last out which is key to his performance. If the gelding comes out hot or acts up in the gate, he’s an automatic throw out. The most important fact though is connections aren’t pointing to win this race, they want him to peak on the biggest day of the year in March. This might be the best day to beat him.
Defeated Thunder Snow back as a three-year old in the Guineas, Cosmo Charlie has done some strong maturing since his three-year old campaign. The big question going forward though is can he handle facing Group 1 level company? Been a shell of his former self, able to get to the front. If North America decides to run his race prior to the start, should be tough to catch on the front end.
Won the Goldolphin Mile two years ago at a big price, Second Summerwasn’t able to repeat as the winner in that race after Heavy Metal was able to get an easy lead. Needs to show some life in this race as he’s not been the same horse since winning the Mile. Been beaten by a total of 62-plus lengths in his last four and half starts. Nothing short of a strong effort will give connections hope that gelding can still compete at this level.
Leshlaabeen on turf in his last eight starts, moves to the dirt and gets added distance. Dream Castle has proven to be a nice surprise with two wins at the meet. Would like to see if he can make the transition to the dirt for Godolphin. Another strong showing will give connections options heading toward DWC night.
Will give a look at Senior Investment, should run a little better in his second start over the Meydan surface. Getting added distance could help horse get a better trip. Think he might be a bit in over his head against the likes of North America and Cosmo Charlie. We need to see quite a bit of improvement to feel he is a strong player on March 30th.