Top Notch Older Horses on Display at Dover and in Dubai

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Ted Black

March 1st, 2017

The standardbred card at Dover Downs on Thursday evening and the thoroughbred card at Meydan Race Course in Dubai on Saturday morning might seem to have little in common at face value, but the two programs for opposing breeds will both feature talented older horses with plenty of ability and the potential for a big season ahead.

Thursday's feature at Dover Downs is the $30,000 Preferred Handicap for older pacers, a deep and talented group that could be destined for great things this season.

Railbound Arque Hanover (Victor Kirby) has the rail, while Bushwacker (Corey Callahan) has already won three of seven starts, banked $50,000 and taken a mark of 1:49.3 this winter. Just to his outside is Wakizashi Hanover (Tim Tetrick), a talented older pacer who will make his 2017 debut for trainer Jim King, Jr., Missile J (Jonathan Roberts), who has won his first four starts this season and earned $30,000 and taken a mark of 1:49.1 over the strip, and Always At My Place (Yannick Gingras), a talented Ron Burke trainee who won his seasonal debut over the track in 1:51.1.

Then one race later in the $20,000 Open for older pacers, Remember Me VK (Montrell Teague) will seek his third win in seven starts. Art History (John Campbell) will attempt to attain his first win of the year in his third start; Star Messenger (Art Stafford, Jr.) has already won three of seven starts and banked $25,000 and taken a mark of 1:50.2; Bad Gamer (Gingras) steps up to the Open after won four of seven starts, banked $36,750 and taken a seasonal mark of 1:51.3. Nike Franco (Tetrick), who emerged on the scene last fall and climbed the ladder and beat the boys, makes her seasonal debut for King.

Those thoroughbred fans who generally sleep in until the start of the races on the east coast each weekend will want to get up a little earlier this Saturday when Meydan hosts its annual "Super Saturday" card, the final prelude to the ultra-lucrative Dubai World Cup Night card on March 25. For many of the participants this Saturday morning - it is actually evening in Dubai - the preps this weekend will offer their connections one last chance to prove they belong in the starting gate in three weeks.
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The opener is the ungraded, $150,000 Al Bastakiya for three-year-olds at the Preakness Stakes distance of one-mile and three-sixteenths, then the second is the Grade III, $200,000 Mahab Al Shimaal at six furlongs on the main track. Reynaldothewizard, Cool Cowboy, Muarrab and Krypton Factor, a past hero on Dubai World Cup night.

Saturday's third race is the Grade II, $250,000 Dubai City of Gold is at one-mile and one-half on the turf and features Postponed, Elliptique and Earnshaw, who are prepping for one of the two $5 million turf stakes on Dubai World Cup night. Up next is the Grade III, $200,000 Burj Nahaar at one mile on the main track which includes Le Bernardini, Heavy Metal, Farrier, Surfer and Long River.

Saturday's fifth is the ungraded, $200,000 Nad Al Sheba on the grass which includes The Right Man, Jungle Cat, Final Venture, Baccarat and Ghaaamer. The Grade I, $400,000 Al Maktoum Challenge at one-mile and one-quarter on the main track is an obvious tuneup for the $10 million Dubai World Cup, which features Special Fighter, Move Up, Lani and Second Carnival. Capping the card is the $300,000 Jebel Hatta at nine furlongs on the lawn and also includes Elliptique, Decorated Knight, Ertijaal, Light The Lights and Earnshaw.

Through the first two months of the Dubai Racing Carnival, several horses have displayed the ability and potential to have an impact on the Dubai World Cup card. After reviewing the replays and charts of the previous stakes, my highest marks have gone to Championship and Zarak, both of which were sharp winners on the grass last Saturday. Of course, a number of horses this weekend can join the list of horses with a local prep that could impact the Dubai World Cup card on March 25.