Euro Charline to get prep race in Dubai; Maurice stays home in Japan
This week brought some welcome news regarding the international contingent for Dubai – the crystallization of plans for classy turf distaffer Euro Charline and Australian sprint star Buffering.
But the happy momentum was brought to a screeching halt with Friday’s report that Japanese Horse of the Year Maurice won’t make a Dubai appearance after all. (Thanks to Graham Pavey @LongBallToNoOne for getting the word out to the Anglophone world via Twitter.)
Maurice is reportedly still feeling the effects of his successful raid on the Hong Kong Mile (G1) December 13, and connections want to give him more time to rest. He’ll aim for a title defense in the June 5 Yasuda Kinen (G1), but at this point it hasn’t been determined whether he’ll have a prep race. International ventures are possible in the fall, along with the October 30 Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1).
Thus the Dubai Turf (G1) has lost its most appetizing angle: the clash of streaks between defending champion Solow and Maurice.
But the about nine-furlong contest on World Cup night is still very much in the cards for Euro Charline, who was a too-fresh fourth to Solow last year. That early aggressiveness likely won’t be in play this time around. In the 2015 Dubai Turf, Euro Charline had been sidelined by injury since her dashing victory in the 2014 Beverly D. (G1). For her return tilt, Team Valor International has announced she’ll get a prep race in the March 3 Balanchine (G2), where she’ll reunite with Ryan Moore.
"We have been trying to get Ryan back aboard the mare ever since the Beverly D.," Team Valor International President Barry Irwin said in a press release. "She is a hard mare to settle and Ryan has the knack. He was able to get her to relax at Arlington Park and it is key that she begin her season with a relaxed attitude instead of trying to use her speed early in a race."
Al Quoz Sprint (G1) contender Buffering’s travel plans have been set, with trainer Robert Heathcote revealing that the venerable 8-year-old will ship out to Dubai March 14. Then his travels will continue to Hong Kong for the May 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (G1). An earner of A$6 million while scooping up six career Group 1 titles, Buffering comes off a brilliant score in the January 9 Magic Millions Plate at Gold Coast. He’s since enjoyed a holiday and rejoined Heathcote this week.
"He had a couple of weeks in a paddock doing basically nothing and for the last couple of weeks he's been doing some resistance work on the aqua-walker at Washpool Lodge,” Heathcote told racingandsports.com.au. “He looks in great order.”
International Star in World Cup mix? Fair Grounds enthusiast International Star might theoretically convince owner Ken Ramsey to add him to the World Cup (G1) picture – if he sails through the February 20 Mineshaft (G3) at the Gentilly oval, Thoroughbred Daily News (TDN) reports.
“It’s not totally out of the question, but if I think I could possibly win over there, I’d take him,” Ramsey told TDN’s T.D. Thornton. “It’s a longshot, wishful thinking, that we might send International Star over there. Next year might be his year (for Dubai). I really think he could be a star, and that we’re going to have a lot of fun with this horse this year.”
No World Cup tryst? Godolphin’s all-weather specialist Tryster may not be committed to pursuing the World Cup, according to Stephen Molyneux (@SMolyneux79). Plans call for Tryster to make his Carnival debut in next Thursday’s Dubai Millennium on turf. Although he could subsequently switch to dirt, trainer Charlie Appleby is reportedly not satisfied with how he’s been working on the surface. Perhaps the recent dirt flop of another Godolphin all-weather type, Let’s Go, has also played a role? And Godolphin already has a top candidate in Frosted. On the other hand, the boys in blue can never have enough in the World Cup. Stay tuned.
Isla Bonita aims for Australia: Japan has typically not sent its absolute tip-top performers to race in Australia, so it’s a measure of the allure of Sydney’s Championships that Isla Bonita is on the way. The champion 3-year-old colt of 2014 was most recently a hard-charging third to Maurice in the November 22 Mile Championship (G1), and he’s slated to resume in the February 28 Nakayama Kinen (G2). His major objective is the April 9 Queen Elizabeth (G1), worth A$4 million at Randwick. As expected, compatriots Tosen Reve and Tosen Stardom are also bound for the Championships, as is former champion Logotype. They too are eligible for the Queen Elizabeth, but Tosen Reve is likelier for the April 9 Sydney Cup (G1) and Logotype has the Doncaster (G1) option on April 2.
Training reports: The February 20 Lightning (G1) is shaping up to be a dandy, judging by the trials turned in by a quintet of Group 1 winners who could all clash down the Flemington strip.
On Monday at a soggy Warwick Farm, Terravista was nudged a bit to just stave off Exosphere, who was closing smoothly under a hold.
On Friday at Flemington, Chautauqua and Delectation finished alongside in an 800-meter (about half-mile) heat in :45.93, with Japonisme third.
Chautauqua’s the only one still weighing whether to line up in the Lightning. Co-trainer Wayne Hawkes reiterates that it’s all about a title defense in the April 2 T.J. Smith (G1), so connections are plotting the best way to get him there.
New Zealand Horse of the Year Mongolian Khan, ruled out of the Melbourne Cup (G1) by a bad bout of colic, is back in good health. A pleasing sixth in a Matamata trial on Tuesday, the Caulfield Cup (G1) hero is on course to return in the February 27 Chipping Norton (G1).
“He was a very sick horse for a while there, but the main thing is they didn’t have to operate,” co-trainer Murray Baker told theinformant.co.nz. “They did a marvelous job at the Werribee Clinic and it’s thanks to them that we’ve still got a racehorse.”
Also eyeing the Chipping Norton is a newcomer to Australia, Storm the Stars. Last year’s Great Voltigeur (G2) winner, Irish Derby (G1) runner-up, Epsom Derby (G1) and Grand Prix de Paris (G1) third, and St Leger (G1) fourth is now with Chris Waller. He’s scheduled for a Monday trial at Rosehill.
And from wintry Great Britain, the Sporting Life’s gallops reporter has noted that South American import Furia Cruzada is working well for John Gosden. The Argentine/Chilean Group 1 heroine is expected to kick off her campaign in the February 27 Winter Derby (G3) before embarking for Dubai, where she has entries in the World Cup, Dubai Turf and Sheema Classic (G1).
Future plans: Last year’s Godolphin Mile (G2) near-misser Sloane Avenue will resurface at Kempton later this month, trainer Jeremy Noseda told Racing UK. Although the World Cup has not been definitively ruled out, he’ll probably go for better luck back in the Godolphin Mile. And further down the road, Sloane Avenue has the June 11 Met Mile (G1) in his sights.
Hong Kong celebrity Thewizardofoz is in line for the February 28 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup (G1) after beating his elders in the Chinese New Year Cup. Rebounding from a fifth in the Hong Kong Classic Mile, the John Size trainee appeared to benefit on the cutback to about seven furlongs. But there’s no reason on pedigree why he can’t get further -- the son of Redoute’s Choice is out of multiple New Zealand champion Princess Coup. Her stamina was proven as a New Zealand Oaks (G1) winner who placed in The BMW (G1) and Caulfield Cup.
Satono Diamond stamped himself as a major player for the Japanese classics in last Sunday’s Kisaragi Sho (G3) (in which Azeri’s son, Leukerbad, was third). The $2.3 million son of Deep Impact is now a perfect 3-for-3.
Sparingly raced stayer Litigant will return to the scene of last summer’s Ebor triumph in the May 13 Yorkshire Cup (G2), and trainer Joseph Tuite hopes to make the Ascot Gold Cup (G1).
Australia’s Scissor Kick could be considered for Newmarket’s July Cup (G1), trainer Paul Messara told Craig Brennan of racingandsports.com.au. Sidelined by bone bruising since last May, the Redoute’s Choice entire is ticketed for the February 27 Futurity (G1) and maybe the Doncaster.
Mike de Kock’s Cape Guineas (G1) winner Noah from Goa is already been penciled in for the 2017 Dubai Carnival. According to goldcircle.co.za, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum (Mubtaahij’s owner) has acquired an interest in “Noah,” who will ship out of South Africa with Breeders’ Cup contender Smart Call. Noah from Goa was most recently third versus elders in the January 9 Queen’s Plate (G1), likely his homeland finale.
Pride of Dubai retired: The star juvenile’s 3-year-old season never really got off the ground. A dispiriting 10TH in his Eskimo Prince (G3) comeback, Pride of Dubai sustained a hind leg injury that has prompted his retirement. Just too bad, considering what raw talent – and guts – this Street Cry colt showed in both of his Group 1 scores.
Injury/illness reports: Herbert Power (G2) winner Amralah will miss the entire Australian autumn with a leg injury, but hopefully will be back in business later in the year, with a view toward the Melbourne Cup (G1).
Promising 2-year-old Defcon is out of tonight’s Blue Diamond Prelude (G3) after a dirty scope and unsatisfactory bloodwork. He may line up in a Monday trial at Rosehill in preparation for the Silver Slipper (G2).
On tap: Coming up late Friday night, superstar Winx makes her first start since the Cox Plate (G1) in the Apollo (G2) at Randwick. Group 1 action Down Under resumes with a contentious renewal of the C.F. Orr (G1) at Caulfield. And in Japan on Sunday, Touching Speech hopes to burnish her Sheema Classic credentials in the Kyoto Kinen (G2).