Early Post Time for U. S. Viewers
The only winner of the UAE Triple Crown was Asiatic Boy in 2007. This year, Godolphin’s Estihdaaf, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, has a chance to make a run for it on Saturday at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.
The winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas, Estihdaaf's official rating of 106 is tops among 14 declared in the the Al Bastakiya sponsored by emirates.com on Saturday. It will be run at the same distance, about 1 3/16 mile, as the final leg of the series, the UAE Derby on March 30. Christophe Soumillon will ride the son of Arch.
A major competitor may well be UAE Oaks heroine Divine Image, also owned by Godolphin and trained by Charlie Appleby. Brett Doyle is named to ride the filly, who gets a bit of a weight break. Her official rating is 103, second highest in the field.
Connections hope Argentinian group 1 winner Grecko, by Asiatic Boy’s sire Not for Sale, will show improvement. Trained by Kenny McPeek, Frankie Dettori takes the ride on the good-looking grey colt, who has been training well in the mornings. Last time out, he finished fourth to Manguzi in the Al Bastakiya Trial.
Meanwhile, Manguzi is in the Al Bastakiya, too. Trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi, he'll be ridden by Fernando Jara. He made all to just hold off Estihdaaf and will be considered a strong contender.
he Song Of John, to be ridden by Richard Mullen for Satish Seemar, adds a level of intrigue to the race, having finished sixth in his most recent outing -- the Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs, after having broken his maiden on his first start.
Another U.S.-based colt in Tone Broke, who finished a distant sixth in the Al Bastakiya Trial for trainer Steve Asmussen. He breaks from the rail under Mickael Barzalona.
Denmark's Red Cactus, a late-closing son of Hard Spun, was a good third to Estihdaaf in the UAE 2000 Guineas and should appreciate the increase in trip when Elione Henrique Chaves takes the reins.
Local winners Moshaher (Pat Dobbs), Superior (Connor Beasley) and the filly Al Hayette (Fabrice Veron), though highly regarded by their connections, must return to their best form to factor.
The field is completed by Shanty Star (to be ridden by Bernardo Pinheiro), Tabarak (Adrie de Vries), Fintas (Shane Kelly) and the imposing filly Al Shamkhah (Royston Ffrench).
The Al Bastakiya is race 2 on Saturday's card. Expected post time in the U. S. is 7:35 am eastern time. The Al Bastakiya doesn't carry any Kentucky Derby points, but it's a major steppngstone to the UAE Derby, which carries significant points.
Edited release with additional content by Dick Downey