Dubai Preview: Shahama favored to win UAE Oaks
The focus on the Saudi Cup meting means racing in Dubai is at a slightly lower level this weekend. But there are three group races at Meydan Feb. 18 – all of which are subject to TwinSpires’ Rest of the World Bet Back offer – and one of them potentially carries great significance to North America.
United Arab Emirates (UAE) Oaks (G3), 1900m (about 1 3/16 miles)
The UAE Oaks (G3) is not only the most prestigious race for three-year-old fillies in Dubai; it’s also the first race where 85 points are available in the Road to the 2022 Kentucky Oaks series. The winner earns 50 points, which will probably be enough to earn one of the 14 spots in the Kentucky Oaks field should connections opt to run.
Just seven fillies have paid up for the $150,000 feature and it is dominated by the unbeaten #6 Shahama, who is rated at least 12 pounds above all her opponents.
The Munnings filly won her debut Dec. 12 by nine lengths over 1400m (about seven furlongs), and then won in conditions company by 2 1/2 lengths over the same journey Jan. 1.
That made her the leading fancy for the Listed UAE 1000 Guineas over 1600m (about one mile) Jan. 28, and after being held up briefly at the top of the stretch, she accelerated away to win easily by 3 3/4 lengths.
The only question mark is whether she can stay 1900m (about 1 3/16 miles), and it’s a legitimate one given her sire Munnings is best known for producing sprinter-milers. But she has a distinct class advantage and given the bet-back offer, it’s very hard to go against her.
- $10 Win: #6 Shahama
Blue Point Sprint (G2), 1000m (about 5 furlongs)
#5 Lazuli will be hard to topple here for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby. He’s won twice at Group 3 level in England and ran well for second over six furlongs at Meydan Jan. 28 in listed company. He’s better at this trip and at level weights he’s the one to beat.
#1 Acklam Express is a wild card; he failed miserably in two British starts last year but was in solid form in Dubai before then, running minor placings three times at Group level this time last year.
Australian trainer Will Clarken lines up two horses, #3 He’s A Balter and #7 Parsifal, and the latter may be the best hope after he ran well for sixth Jan. 28, behind Lazuli, a nice effort after his rider’s saddle shifted back shortly after the start.
- $10 win: #5 Lazuli
- $1 exacta: 5 with 1,4,7
Nad Al Sheba Trophy (G3), 2810m (about 1 3/4 miles)
The richest race of the night at $200,000, this is a potential prep race for the two-mile Dubai Gold Cup at the end of March. A full field of 15 horses is running, but it is dominated by the unbeaten Godolphin four-year-old #15 Manobo.
In four starts, the son of Sea the Stars has created a fantastic impression in four starts. At his third start he romped home by 10 lengths in the listed Prix Turenne at Saint-Cloud in France Sept. 10, and he then comfortably won the Prix Chaudenay (G2) over 3000m (about 1 7/8 miles) at Longchamp Oct. 2.
His toughest opponent is probably #13 Dancing King, who looked a stayer of promise in England last year. After winning his first four races, he finished third in the Bahrain Trophy (G3) at Newmarket Jul. 8 behind subsequent Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) winner Yibir, and two starts later won the 1 3/4-mile March Stakes (G3) at Goodwood.
- $10 win: #15 Manobo
- $10 exacta: 15 with 13
BONUS PLAY – SOUTH AFRICA
Turffontein, February 19, Race 7, Egoli Mile
- $10 win/$30 show, #3 Litigation: Consistent colt who should be primed for another big effort.