Blinkers on Keen Ice per Ryan Moore’s advice, Hoppertunity works & other Monday notes

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

March 21st, 2016

That's Hoppertunity today (credit Mathea Kelley/Dubai Racing Club) - no DRC  photos of a blinkered Keen Ice yet.

For those of us not on track at Meydan, the daily notes from the Dubai Racing Club offer some interesting tidbits on World Cup night contenders.

Case in point: Monday’s blurb on Keen Ice, who will add blinkers in hopes of sharpening him up in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1). Although the equipment change was hinted when he exercised in blinkers, and confirmed in Monday’s declarations, the notes reveal who’s responsible – ace rider Ryan Moore. Aboard for Keen Ice's seventh in the Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (G1), Moore recommended the headgear for their renewed partnership in the World Cup.

"He went in :59 1/5," trainer Dale Romans’ partner, Tammy Fox, said of the five-furlong drill last Saturday. “He seems to like it (the blinkers). It was a good move.

"We all know his style of running. He's a big plodder. When the pace is slow like it was (on Super Saturday) the leaders just sprint away from him. It takes him a while to get his momentum going. He needs pace to run at and I think we'll get more of that in the Dubai World Cup.”

The Bob Baffert-trained Hoppertunity zipped a half-mile in :48 2/5 on Monday, to the satisfaction of assistant-cum-exercise rider Dana Barnes.

“Super good! He usually doesn’t work by himself, so I was a little concerned, but he grabbed the bit and it was no problem,” Barnes said.

“He loves it (the Meydan dirt). This track is really soft, whereas Santa Anita is pretty hard. All the horses seem to be like ‘Yay!’ when they feel this track.”

Anyone put off by Polar River’s rapidly diminishing margin in the UAE Oaks (G3) may need to revisit that opinion ahead of the UAE Derby (G2). As reported before, she had physical excuses that day – and trainer Doug Watson is projecting a more characteristic display from the undefeated filly on Saturday.

“Her preparation was a bit interrupted going into the Oaks,” Watson said.

“She had not been eating as you would like and had a tooth removed. (Regular rider) Pat (Dobbs) gave her as easy a race as he could with Saturday in mind. She is in great form now and should run a massive race.”

News wasn’t as positive regarding Dubai Gold Cup (G2) entrant Suegioo, who earns the dubious distinction of being the first reported poor shipper.

“His travel over wasn’t great, he could have eaten and drunk better, I’m told,” trainer Richard Fahey relayed from his British base, “but there’s time for him to get over it.”

Finally, this curious bit on Confrontation, who goes in the about six-furlong Golden Shaheen (G1) rather than the Godolphin Mile (G2).

"We decided to skip a work with him three weeks ago and sharpen him up on (last) Wednesday  instead," assistant trainer Neal McLaughlin said, adding that Confrontation toured about a half-mile in :48 3/5.

Guilty as I often am of reading too much into trainers’ comments, I’m finding it difficult not to import all kinds of baggage into this quote. Miss a work three weeks ago? More to the story on his grand switcheroo with stablemate Marking, who takes his spot in the Godolphin Mile rather than the Golden Shaheen? It looked for all the world as if that decision were driven principally with Marking in mind, but maybe not…