Mongolian Saturday out of Al Quoz; confidence in Chrome, Frosted camps

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

March 22nd, 2016

Mongolian Saturday photo courtesy Keeneland/Coady Photography.

The major news Tuesday – aside from the Dubai rain – was the withdrawal of Mongolian Saturday from the Al Quoz Sprint (G1).

The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner has travel sickness, according to the Emirates Racing Authority. Considering his delayed return to the worktab after his Hong Kong venture, and the rushed preparation for this, it might be for the best that he misses World Cup night.

Otherwise, the Dubai Racing Club notes have nothing but good vibes from Team USA, and indeed outright confidence from World Cup (G1) threats California Chrome and Frosted.

“He’s a lot stronger horse now,” trainer Art Sherman said of California Chrome. “I think he’s five lengths better (than last year). You're just going to see a different Chrome this time.”

“He loves what he does,” the trainer’s son and assistant, Alan Sherman, said. “He comes out here, does his job, and he loves it. He’s always been that way.”

Neal McLaughlin, brother and assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, sounded positively bullish on Frosted.

"He's really come into his own," Neal said.

"It helps that American Pharoah isn't here. We always say we had the right horse in the wrong year. We came over early and gave him time to acclimate.

“The prep (track record-setting romp in the Maktoum Challenge Round 2 [G2]) couldn't have gone any better. With seven weeks since his last start, he's fresh, happy and ready to run. We are full of confidence."

"He's a tactical horse who will do as we please," he added. "We want him a bit closer to the pace on Saturday night and the freshening we've given him between races helps with that. We wish the World Cup was tonight. This is obviously a very strong Dubai World Cup but we wouldn't trade horses with anyone."

World Cup rival Mshawish has been attracting plenty of attention for his powerful gallops at Meydan, striding out with head low in attack mode.

“He was pulling (exercise rider) Nick (Bush) around even more today than he was yesterday,” said Ginny DePasquale, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher.

“He really wants to go,” Bush said.

American hopes are likewise riding high for the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1).

Trainer Jorge Navarro is delighted with the condition of likely favorite X Y Jet.

"We've been here for a week and it's the best he's ever trained and his attitude is great," Navarro said.

"He's been cleaning his feed tub every day, and as a trainer that's the best sign we can get. In his last race at Gulfstream he stumbled bad at the break and the race took a lot out of him, so we just want to be easy on him and keep him happy.

“We've been working with him in the gate, but his stumbles are our biggest concern. We don't want to draw the rail or the extreme outside post.

“The track here reminds me of Churchill Downs. I ran Private Zone there last year and when I walked over this track I noticed the similarity right away. I have a lot of respect for our competition, but we are ready."

Navarro also commented on X Y Jet’s prescribed exercise.

"We jog him to the quarter pole, gallop once around, stop him close to the wire and then jog him back," the trainer said. “He's a sprinter. We want him to be on edge for the race and break out of there running. With the speed he's got, he's a super freaky fast horse."

Golden Shaheen rival Confrontation has had a happy winter in Dubai.

"He's all dappled out," Neal McLaughlin said. "Training in Dubai can be very therapeutic. We have the advantage of training here (at Marmoom) by ourselves. We've been able to go right-handed with him, teach him how to use his body differently and balance himself better.

"He was a bad actor earlier in his career," he added, referring to his pre-Godolphin days. "He dropped Rajiv (Maragh) at least four times. We learned he has sensitive withers and once they're given a leg up, you want the jockey to stay away from them, We've also had a chiropractor working on him. Every horse has different quirks and needs and figuring them out goes a long way in helping them reach their potential."

At his private base at Marmoom Tuesday, Godolphin Mile (G2) contender Marking had an easy move from the gate in company with Watershed. Clocking about a quarter-mile in "24 and change," he went on to gallop a mile beneath James Doyle.

"We wanted to reacquaint him with James," Neal McLaughlin said. "He's had gate problems his entire life. In his first ever race, he sat down in the gate and had to be scratched. He's come a long way since then. We've done quite a bit of gate work with him since he last raced (capturing a February 25 handicap). He's come out the front wonderfully five times now.

"He's always been a hot horse who gets excited and a little worked up but the more he races and learns to overcome different scenarios, the better he gets. We couldn't be happier. He's never been more fit. He's tucked up quite a bit since he's been in Dubai."