U.S. Runners Rate Highly in Dubai World Cup Day Sprints


American runners hold a strong hand in a pair of about six-furlong sprints on the March 27 Dubai World Cup card at Meydan Racecourse.

Co-favorite in the $1.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored by Gulf News (G1) at 5-1 is multiple graded stakes winner Yaupon, a 4-year-old son of Uncle Mo  campaigned by Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt and trained by Steve Asmussen. Yaupon was undefeated in his first four starts that included six-furlong wins in the Amsterdam Stakes (G2) by two lengths and the Chick Lang Stakes (G3) by four lengths. His only unplaced finish was in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), where a rough trip put him eighth across the wire.

Yaupon will break from post 13 in the 14-horse field under Joel Rosario, who has given the colt two winning rides.

“He’s a pretty straightforward horse,” said assistant trainer Scott Blasi. “It’s a good post. He’s a horse that needs to establish position early. He had a rough run in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He was bounced around pretty well throughout several stages of the race, but if he can get away from the gate cleanly, he can run his race.”

Matera Sky - Golden Shaheen - Morning - 032221
Photo: Coady Photography

Matera Sky trains March 22 at Meydan Racecourse

Golden Shaheen co-favorite is Japanese contender Matera Sky, a 7-year-old son of Speightstown , owned by Tsuyoshi Ono and trained by Hideyuki Mori. Matera Sky comes into the race off a close second to fellow U.S.-bred, Japanese contender Copano Kicking in the Saudi Air Riyadh Dirt Sprint on the Saudi Cup undercard Feb. 20.

Jockey Keita Tosaki, who was in the saddle at Riyadh, said the horse is sound, healthy, and ready.

“I have no worries about his condition and movement. He is a veteran horse and has settled into the surroundings without an issue,” he said.

Though 10-1 in the morning-line, W. C. Racing’s homebred Wildman Jack is the highest-rated Golden Shaheen entry at 113, according to the Dubai Racing Club. The 5-year-old son of Goldencents  comes into the sprint off a 4 1/4-length win in the Jan. 23 Palos Verdes Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park. He also has already shown an affinity for Meydan by taking last year’s Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint Sponsored by Arabian Adventures (G3).

“He’s doing great right now; I can’t say that enough,” said Leandro Mora, assistant trainer to Doug O’Neill who is serving out a 10-day suspension March 18-April 6 for a lidocaine positive from last fall. “He’s the kind of horse who gives you confidence.”

Yaupon and Copano Kicking are both the second-highest rated horses in the field at 112.

Space Blues wins the 2021 STC 1351 Turf Sprint at King Abdulaziz Racetrack
Photo: Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Douglas DeFelice

Space Blues wins the stc 1351 Turf Sprint at King Abdulaziz Racetrack

In the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint Sponsored by Azizi Developments (G1T) earlier on the card, Godolphin’s group 1-winning homebred Space Blues owns the highest rating at 120 and is the deserving 5-2 morning-line favorite.

The 5-year-old son of Dubawi is riding a streak of five consecutive wins that include the LARC Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1) and most recently the Feb. 20 stc 1351 Turf Sprint at King Abdulaziz Racecourse on Saudi Cup day. He will be ridden by William Buick, who has been aboard the horse’s most recent three victories, and will break from post 8.

“He’s an ultra-consistent campaigner coming in on the back of a win in Saudi,” said trainer Charlie Appleby. “He had one disappointing run over 1,200 meters at Meydan last year but dropping back to the trip on the straight course is not a worry for us now. He’s the horse to beat.”

The highest-rated U.S. based challengers are Extravagant Kid (114) and Cowan (113).

The Heiligbrodts’ Cowan, a 3-year-old son of Kantharos , is 5-1 in the morning line with five consecutive runner-up efforts in stakes, which includes last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2T), where he finished three-quarters of a length behind Golden Pal. The colt trained by Asmussen also was second in the Feb. 20 Al Rajhi Bank Saudi Derby. He will break from post 13 under Luis Saez.

Cowan - Morning - Dubai - 032321
Photo: Coady Photography

Cowan is led out to the track for morning training at Meydan Racecourse

Cowan worked 600 meters March 21 and “did it nicely,” according to Blasi, who said the colt schooled in the gate March 23.

“He stood very relaxed at the starting gate, which was important. He broke very poorly in the Saudi Derby but was still able to finish a really nice second. He was unlucky not to win that one.”

Cowan has not raced on grass since the Breeders’ Cup and his return to turf coincides with a cutback in distance. His previous three starts were at a mile on the dirt.

“I just don’t think his best distance is 1,600 meters and his speed ratings on grass are even better than they are on dirt. I really like the 1,200 meters for him,” said Blasi.

Extravagant Kid, an 8-year-old gelding by Kiss the Kid, also returns to turf racing since he was second by a neck Jan. 1 in the five-furlong Janus Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He breaks from post 2 with rider Ryan Moore.

The gelding has been a warrior for DARRS and trainer Brendan Walsh since they started racing him in 2018. Out of 26 starts with Walsh, he has seven wins and been second 12 times. For his career, Extravagant Kid has won 14 times and placed in 22 races out of 49 starts. He has earned more than $1 million.

Walsh’s lone Dubai World Cup night starter was Plus Que Parfait, who won the 2019 UAE Derby (G1).

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