Mar 31, 2006
AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD
By: JOE GIRARDI
The Dubai World Cup which is run every March with a purse of $6 million dollars attracts the top handicap horses from all over the world. Well this year’s renewal didn’t have the star quality of years past. There was no CIGAR or ROSES IN MAY, in fact the best the Americans had to offer was in the form of BRASS HAT (winner of the Donn Handicap) and MAGNA GRADUATE whose biggest win came in the Grade II Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. The other top horses in the race were Japan’s KANE HEKILI and GODOLPHIN owned ELECTROCUTIONIST.
KANE HEKILI had only one loss on the dirt from nine career starts on that surface and he earned well over $3.5 million dollars. ELECTROCUTIONIST on the other hand, the hometown hero for GODOLPHIN stable had only one career start on the dirt and that resulted in a seven length victory over an overmatched field. That win did come over Nad Al Sheba, Dubai’s racetrack which was a big advantage over the horses who have never run over this surface. After getting away in midpack, ELECTROCUTIONIST made his way into contention as they hit the long stretch run. MAGNA GRADAUTE, who led from the start was starting to tire as WILKO and BRASS HAT started to take over the lead with ELECTROCUTIONIST bearing down on those two. After BRASS HAT forged to the front late he didn’t have enough to hold off the late charge and settled for second. This was one of the weaker Dubai World Cups and it will be interesting to see how these horses fare out of these races. The top handicap horses in America have not even made their 2006 starts yet so there is a long way to go to crown a champion. However, ELECTROCUTIONIST, if he does make it to the Breeders’ Cup he may be best on the turf rather than the dirt. BRASS HAT, who had a great story returning from a bad injury is a solid performer but still seems like he may be a touch below the top handicap horses in the country.
Even though this was the richest race on the card the most interesting race may have been the U.A.E. Derby which carried a purse of $5 million dollars and was contested at 1 and 1/8th miles for three year olds. The winner of this race was another GODOLPHIN runner in DISCREET CAT. This three year old by FORESTRY out of the Grade I winning dam PRETTY DISCREET, broke his maiden at Saratoga in August of last year and then was purchased privately by GODOLPHIN. He had a prep race at Nad Al Sheba on March 9th and then followed that up with a big win in the U.A.E. Derby. That win has made him a strong possibility for the Kentucky Derby a race that GODOLPHIN has wanted to win for the longest time. However, horses that have wintered in Dubai have not fared well in the Kentucky Derby so he already is at a disadvantage. It will be interesting to see how he fares though because he may be the best horse coming from Dubai to try the Derby.
Another race of interest for North America was the Dubai Golden Shaheen, a six furlong race run down a straightaway with a purse of $2 million dollars. Well the Americans dominated as they ran 1-2-3-4-5, with PROUD TOWER TOO getting to the wire first. THOR’S ECHO, who finished second to PROUD TOWER TOO last out at Santa Anita ran second with JET WEST checking in third. The interesting thing about this race was that none of these five horses ran in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last year. So the Americans dominated the sprint race again without their top contingent in the race. In the Grade II Lane’s End Stakes at Turfway Park, there was a full field of 12 horses. The race however came up pretty weak as the favorite in the race was a horse that never ran in this country or on the dirt before in his life. SILENT TIMES shipped in from England with five seven furlong races to his credit and finished 11th of 12 horses trying the dirt for the first time. The second choice in the race was SUPERFLY from the Nick Zito barn who was coming off two straight defeats at odds-on versus allowance company at Gulfstream Park. One of the big name horses that was supposed to come to this race was STRONG CONTENDER but he didn’t get into the field and will have to look for another prep leading up to the Derby. The winner of the race was a 48-1 longshot named WITH A CITY, who ran 8th in the prep for this race at 58-1 back in early March. Wouldn’t expect to see anyone come out of this race and compete in the Classic races unless we see gargantuan improvement over the next 5 weeks.
As we draw closer to the Kentucky Derby the preps will be coming fast and furious, we will take a look at the Florida Derby results next week in this column.
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