Super Saturday at Meydan Racecourse, the dress rehearsal for Dubai World Cup (G1) night, produced a clutch of local runners to take on the invasion of international superstars in three weeks.
Trainer Fawzi Nass sent out Salute the Soldier to win a likely spot in the $12 million World Cup and Go Soldier Go to line up as a candidate for the $1 million UAE Derby (G2). Sound Money , formerly trained by Chad Brown in New York, bid for a spot in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1), as he won his first start in the desert.
History at Meydan! 🙌
8yo SALUTE THE SOLDIER becomes the first horse to win two editions of G1 Maktoum Challenge R3, for Fawzi Nass and Adrie de Vries.
Is the #DubaiWorldCup next?
— World Horse Racing (@WHR) March 4, 2023
Godolphin’s dominance among local turf runners hit a few bumps as Rebel’s Romance was sidelined with a minor injury, and traffic compromised the team’s chances in the evening’s turf feature.
The big Super Saturday dirt race was the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (G1) and Salute the Soldier shone with a stretch-running win. With Adrie de Vries up, the 8-year-old outfinished Bendoog by two lengths with the pacesetter, First Constitution , holding on for third at the end of the 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles), the same trip as the March 25 World Cup.
Salute the Soldier became the first two-time winner of Round 3. He won in 2021 and finished fifth in the big race that year.
“He’s been a good soldier,” Nass said of his veteran star. “He lost form last year for some reason, but this year, he’s restored.”
Whether he will he go on to the World Cup, Nass said, “It’s a long time, three weeks, for me to worry about.”
Go Soldier Go (left) narrowly defeats Mr Raj in the Al Bastakiya
Go Soldier Go gobbled up a huge deficit in the final 200 meters of the Al Bastakiya Stakes for 3-year-olds to win by a head over Mr Raj and move into the picture for the UAE Derby. Ami Please , a filly trained by Doug O’Neill, led most of the way and finished third.
“He takes time to get going,” said winning rider Adrie de Vries. “I was stuck behind a wall of horses who were losing on the backside. Once he was out of the kickback, he showed a beautiful stride… In the Derby, I just have to ride him the same way.”
Sound Money, always prominent, dominated the stretch run in the night’s finale, the Mahab Al Shimaal (G3), a prep for the Golden Shaheen. With Mickael Barzalona up for trainer Buphat Seemar, the 5-year-old son of Flatter was impressive enough in his first start in the desert, winning by 2 3/4 lengths over Isolate , to book a spot in the big race.
Discovery Island takes the Burj Nahaar
Also on the Meydan dirt, Seemar-trained Discovery Island ground out a 1 1/2-length victory in the Burj Nahaar (G3), securing his spot in the $1 million Godolphin Mile (G2) on March 25. With James Doyle in the irons, Discovery Island sat mid-field during the run down the backstretch, challenged outside a clot of rivals inside the 200 meters, and wore them down for the win.
While Nass and Seemar dominated the dirt races on the Super Saturday program, Godolphin uncharacteristically had to share honors in the grass features.
The blue-clad home team had a strong hand in the Jebel Hatta (G1T), the key prep for the $5 million Dubai Turf (G1T) on World Cup night. But the race turned into a jumble on the backstretch with the likes of Godolphin runners Master of the Seas , Real World , and Valiant Prince , all enduring troubled trips.
Alfareeq prevails in the Jebel Hatta
That left things open for Alfareeq , a Shadwell homebred by Dark Angel , who passed El Drama in the final strides to win by a neck. Master of the Seas did manage to close smartly for third, just another neck in arrears, once jockey William Buick got him room on the outside.
Godolphin was without the horse who would have been the star of the evening as Rebel’s Romance suffered a minor setback that forced him out of the Dubai City of Gold (G2T). Trainer Charlie Appleby said the reigning Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1T) winner is expected back for the $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic (G1T) on World Cup night.
While Rebel’s Romance was missed, Godolphin was still dominant in the City of Gold as Global Storm took up the baton, winning by 2 1/2 lengths with stablemate Kemari second. Appleby said Global Storm likely would return the baton to Rebel’s Romance for the Sheema Classic, adding, “He’s not a horse I see for World Cup night. He’s done his job here tonight.”
Another of Godolphin’s top-shelf runners, Al Suhail , shot away from the field to win the Ras Al Khor by four lengths under a hands-and-heels ride by William Buick. The Appleby trainee made it two straight wins at Meydan Racecourse and lowered his course record for the 1,400 meters (about seven furlongs) to 1:21.46.
Al Suhail, a 6-year-old Dubawi gelding, holds an entry for the $1.5 million Al Quoz Sprint (G1) on World Cup night but could be reserved for big races back in England in the springtime.
The Nad al Sheeba Turf Sprint (G3T) may well have turned up a budding star for the British sprint season as 3-year-old Al Dasim , a son of Harry Angel , pulled clear of big field of older rivals through the final strides to win the 1,200-meter race by 2 1/4 lengths. The runner-up, Miqyaas , lugged into the winner through the final 100 meters and could not stay with the winner. Thunder of Niagara was third.
It was the third straight Carnival win for Al Dasim, following two victories on the Wolverhampton all-weather surface in England. George Boughey trains him.