Track Notes March 25, 2011

Group One US$10 million Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline

Buena Vista – Ryan Moore, the jockey commented, “She is very nice, and I am very happy to have a chance on riding her. I cannot say how she handles All-Weather until she comes in to the final stretch in the race. There are top class horses in the field and any of them will be capable to win, but if she has a little luck and no one will box her in, she must win, and I could confirm she had a talent to win. For the Japanese people who are now having a difficult time, I would like to say that the racing is my answer. What is going on is very terrible, and I suppose horse racing lift them.”

Katsumi Yoshida, the owner of Northern Farm, the breeder of Buena Vista commented, “Ryan asked me to ride her today. He watched many videos of her past performances and he knows her very much, so I did not say anything to him. I think her performance in the Group One Tenno Sho (Autumn) (over 2000m Turf, left-handed at Tokyo Racecourse) is her best performance, and if she can race like the Tenno Sho, she has a big chance.”

Cape Blanco – The Irish Champion Stakes winner appeared on the main course and covered a circuit of the track with stablemates and UAE Derby contenders Alexander Pope and Master Of Hounds. Trainer Aidan O’Brien is not expected in Dubai until race day but his four year old appeared to handle the tight circuit, from what could be seen in the thick fog.

Fly Down – Thick fog that engulfed Meydan Racecourse Friday morning prevented Tim Poole, assistant to trainer Nick Zito, from seeing much of his horse`s final jog prior to Saturday`s US$10 million Dubai World Cup, but it yield one benefit according to Poole.

“One good aspect of the fog is that it`s keeping the temperature down for us,” he said.

Gio Ponti – With a full contingent of his connections on hand to admire him, three-time American champion Gio Ponti strode through Friday morning’s heavy fog at Meydan in a way that inspired hope prior to his second bid for the Dubai World Cup.

“I’m very happy. He moved well from the beginning,” trainer Christophe Clement declared after Gio Ponti galloped easily past him, owner Shane Ryan of Castleton Lyons farm in Lexington, Kentucky, and farm Commercial Manager Stuart Fitzibbon. Clement joked that he should call his assistant, Christophe Lorieul, who rides Gio Ponti in the mornings, and ask him to come back around the track so the group could watch the horse float past them again.

“It’s in God’s hands now,” said Ryan. “He seems to be in good order and I hope he can put his best foot forward. (To win) would be the icing on the cake—he’s done everything we’ve asked. Just to be back a second time, to have a bite at the cherry again, is great.”

Both Ryan and Fitzgibbon also were on hand last year to watch Gio Ponti, who finished a close fourth after a slow early pace did not benefit his rallying style. Gio Ponti was kept in training this year with the Dubai World Cup as his specific goal and at the end of this year will be retired to Castleton Lyons to stand at stud alongside international sire Bernstein, a son of Storm Cat, and Danzig’s group stakes-winning son Modigliani.

Transcend – Transcend cantered slowly on the All-Weather track. Trainer Takayuki Yasuda commented, “There are no hitches with the horse’s condition. We usually walk horses around the stable area on the following day of the fast breeze, and it’s my policy. He is familiarized with the surroundings. We will give him a double hood for the fireworks tomorrow. As for the draw, it does not have any problem to take the lead.”

Twice Over – Henry Cecil arrived in Dubai to see Twice Over complete his Dubai World Cup preparation as the six year old completed a lap of the track under jockey Tom Queally.

“I am very happy with him and he has done very well,” said Cecil of the horse who ran 11th in last year’s race. We brought him out to Dubai earlier this year and he has learned how to handle the track and I hope it all works out. He has worked on the main track for the last three weeks and he is taking the bends better and is not changing his legs. He is definitely better this year than last but whether he is good enough, who knows? It is a difficult race to win and the opposition is tough but I think he has a great chance.”

Henry Cecil - Trainer - Twice Over - Dubai World Cup; Teddy Grimthorpe - Racing manager to owner Khalid Abdulla quotes from Friday morning press conference.

Henry Cecil: "The horse is in very good form, more importantly he`s happy and relaxed, and fitter than he was when he came out here. Last year I thought he had a good chance, but things just didn`t go right in the race. He got a bit of a bump and didn`t really settle into the race. This time we have done things a bit differently. We planned for this race after his run in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket in October, and came out early to get a race into him out here.

“We have come back to try and get it right this time. I think he`s a better horse now than he was a year ago, he`s improved with age. He`s had a history of bad feet and we changed his shoes to a sort of stick on shoe. He hasn`t got much hoof to put nails into, and before it was as if he was like someone going around in shoes half a size too small. My blacksmith Stephen has done a very good job with him, and I feel Twice Over`s action has improved, he moves better now at the trot, and in all his paces really.

A race like the Dubai World Cup is always going to be hard to win, but if they go a good gallop, then I think he`ll have a great chance. I wouldn`t swap him for any of the others in the race, but then I don`t know all that much about them, I just tend to concentrate on my own horses. There`ll be no excuses this time."

Teddy Grimthorpe: "Twice Over has done all that`s been asked of him. We were really pleased with his last run in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round III. We hoped he`d run well, but he was a bit burly then, and we didn`t necessarily expect him to win. He`s come on from that run, and he`s a lot more toned now than he was three weeks ago. He was never on an even keel in the race last year, and while it was disappointing to finish 10th last year, looking back when you consider he was only beaten less than four lengths, it maybe wasn`t such a bad run after all."

Henry Cecil: "I think the difference this year compared to last is that he`s adapted to life over here, he`s more balanced, and has benefited from training on the track regularly. I`ve kept all his training to the main track, rather than the training track or the turf - he`s just a happy horse.

(Asked about Twice Over`s weight: “I don`t know, I never weigh my horses. I am old fashioned I suppose but I rely on what my eyes tell me about my horses!")

Victoire Pisa – Victoire Pisa and Rulership (Dubai Sheema Classic) cantered easily Friday morning. Trainer Katsuhiko Sumii said, “I am happy with their condition. We are all set for tomorrow.”

Group One US$5 million Dubai Sheema Classic, sponsored by China Guangsha Group

Bourbon Bay - Trainer Neil Drysdale sent Bourbon Bay to the training track at Meydan Friday morning to canter over the turf course. The half-brother to Ginger Brew is entered in Saturday’s Dubai Sheema Classic, sponsored by China Guangsha Group.

“He’s well at the moment,” said the Hall of Fame trainer. “He’s doing well but you never know until you race them. Everything can look hunky dory and it just depends.You don’t know until you run.”

Bourbon Bay, who was wearing a French Martingale, trained under exercise rider Humberto Gomez. Drysdale was pleased with the gelding’s demeanor.

“He was cracking right along yesterday,” said Drysdale. “He was just a little bit fresh, and he plays. Today he’s very switched off, which we thought he would be.”

Bourbon Bay swept the San Juan Capistrano series in 2010 at Santa Anita Park. A multiple graded stakes winner, Drysdale explained the gelding’s improvement in early 2010.

“He was just running at the correct distances,” he said. “Before he was running short, and he didn’t do very well in Canada. Then he came back and he did very well.”

Chinchon – Chinchon’s trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias was at Meydan on Friday morning to oversee his Dubai Sheema Classic hope canter on the main track. As usual, he was ridden by Stephane Duprey and Carlos Laffon-Parias said: “He just did his usual canter. All the favourites are out, so we shall see. I’m happy with him and also happy with the draw, as he usually comes from behind, so in actual fact the draw is of little importance to him.”

Dangerous Midge – The Breeders’ Cup Turf winner made an appearance with UAE Derby contender and stablemate Mantoba just after 6.30 am.

Trainer Brian Meehan said: “We didn’t breeze them today and they just had a school through the gates to keep their minds active. That went well and they seem in good order.”

King Dancer – Trainer Sean Woods said, "He just cantered this morning and will do the same tomorrow. All is good. I don`t get nervous about race night - I just get on with it!

“He was fine out there this morning and he’s a happy horse and the prep has all gone to plan in terms of his wellbeing. The wide draw [gate 14] is a disadvantage, sure, and it limits our options a bit. He will need luck but he has a very good jockey [Ryan Moore] to help out.”

Laaheb – Roger Varian jetted into Dubai for Laheeb’s final piece of work as the trainer prepares to saddle his first runner after taking over care of Michael Jarvis’ Newmarket yard. Varian’s five year old won his final two starts in 2010 and had a steady canter around the main track this morning.

“He has progressed from last year and it is exciting to be here,” said Varian. “The plan was always to come here so we put him into work in December and he has trained through January, February and March to get here. This was always the plan and he has been trained for it.

“He had a training schedule panned out at home and we decided not to give him a prep run and he has done all of his work at home. We did take him to Lingfield a couple of weeks ago when Richard Hills rode him. That was an outing for him and I was very pleased with him.

“He looks well and I hope he runs well as he has not missed a beat in his prep. Whether that is good enough we will see on the night. He is only a Group Three winner. He is untried at this level so needs to step up to feature and I hope he can.

“I am training now but it is the same as with Michael before – we do not like to go for big races if we don’t have a chance.”

Marinous – Marinous was on the track very early on Friday morning, where he did his usual canter with stable mate and Dubai Duty Free contender Rasjaman.

Rulership – Rulership and Victoire Pisa (Dubai World Cup) cantered easily Friday morning. Trainer Katsuhiko Sumii said, “I am happy with their condition. We are all set for tomorrow.”

Group One US$5 million Dubai Duty Free, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free

Bankable – Trainer Herman Brown said: "Bankable worked on the treadmill this morning. All is good."

Beauty Flash – Trainer Tony Cruz said: “No kidding, everything has gone perfectly since he’s been here. The horse is in great shape and he has drawn an ideal gate in two. The only query I have with him is how good he is over the extra furlong and whether that will find him. He has three Group One wins at [1600m] at home but at the 1800m he is less proven. I think he can get it and he will fight all the way.”

Better Than Ever – Trainer Laurie Laxon said, "The horse just cantered two rounds [of the track] this morning. He shied a few times yesterday at the people leaning over the grandstand fence but today he was fine as it was foggy and he couldn`t see anyone. I`m not nervous about the race. I`ve been down this road a few times before so I don`t get nervous anymore."

Presvis – Luca Cumani is hopeful of Presvis making it third time lucky in the Dubai Duty Free after his 11th- and second-place finishes the last two years.

“I am not confident but am hopeful and all went perfect this morning as he had a canter around,” Cumani said.

Rajsaman – Rajsaman, trained by Freddy Head, arrived very early on the track at about 5:30 am. He cantered with his stable companion Marinous and both were reported to be in good form.

Royal Bench – Robert Collet was happy with Royal Bench on Friday morning and said: “Everything is fine, we are happy. He just cantered round once and then went a little bit faster the second time round.”

Victor’s Cry – Continuing what has been to date a perfectly executed plan with the Dubai Duty Free as his target, Victor’s Cry on Friday turned in what trainer Eoin Harty described as “his best day yet” in training.

“He’s gotten better every day and today he was perfect,” Harty said after Victor`s Cry completed a 2400m (about 1 ½-mile) gallop through fog. The six year old son of 2002 Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry became a bit more energized than ideal on Thursday when another horse brushed against him during training but he was totally composed on Friday under locally-based exercise rider Alexander Thompson, who galloped 2009 Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed for Harty at Nad Al Sheba.

Since Victor’s Cry won the [about] 1700m (1 1/16-mile) Group Two Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park on November 27, Harty has planned the horse’s training program and one prep race around the Dubai Duty Free, he said, “and everything has gone according to plan.

“I’ve left no stone unturned,” added the Irish-born, California-based conditioner who previously trained juveniles in America for Godolphin and continues to train for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Darley Stable and other members of the Al Maktoum family.

Victor’s Cry, owned by Bob and Michele Billings` Equilete Stable, has “a genuine European turn of foot for three-eighths of a mile,” Harty said, and won last year`s Group One Shoemaker Mile Stakes in 1:32.88. He was a closing third in his Dubai Duty Free prep, the Group Three Thunder Road Handicap at Santa Anita Park on February 5.

“I certainly wouldn’t be bringing him here if I didn’t think I had a chance to win,” Harty said.

Eoin Harty quotes from Friday morning Press Conference

Interviewer: "Eoin, as the man who brought the curtain down on the old racetrack at Nal Al Sheba with Well Armed`s victory in the 2009 Dubai World Cup, what are your thoughts on the new Meydan?"

Eoin Harty: "That`s probably how I`ll be remembered, they`ll probably put that on my tombstone! You know over the last few days I`ve been marveling at this place and I still can`t find the right words to describe it, it`s so impressive - overwhelming I`d say is the word for it. I was thrilled to win that race, it was very special, not just because of my associations with the Al Maktoum family, but because as a horse Well Armed had to overcome such a lot - he had a knee injury, and then a cracked pelvis, and his owners took him away and nursed him back to health. They had their own personal sufferings too - winning was in a way a cathartic moment."

(On Victor`s Cry): Any race here is competitive, especially one with US$5 million in prizemoney attached, so you have to come with the right horse and have your `A-game` too. You know you are going to be facing a lot of accomplished horses from Europe and here, but Victor`s Cry I believe is a genuine [Group One] horse, with a serious turn of foot over the last furlong and a half. He comes from off the pace, and he`ll be given a patient ride and then asked to unleash that run in the straight. This race has been his target ever since he won the Citation Handicap at Hollywood in November. Since he`s been here, everything has gone to plan, he`s been doing well. It`s just a matter of him being good enough and having that `A-game` with him!

Wigmore Hall – Michael Bell oversaw Wigmore Hall’s final session on the track ahead of his bid to follow up a win in the Jebel Hatta and Jamie Spencer’s big-race mount appeared to be extremely well in himself.

“I am very happy with him and his work has gone well,” said Bell. “We have dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s and we are now ready to go.”

Group One US$2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen, sponsored by Gulf News

Dim Sum & Sunny King – Trainer John Moore said: "Dim Sum galloped yesterday and as the saying goes he is `Cherry Ripe`. The facilities here are second to none; look at the aura of the grandstand. It is a privilege to be here. I class the Dubai World Cup Meeting as one of the best international race meetings in the world - Dubai, Royal Ascot and Melbourne. It is great to be participating, you get to meet people from all over the world ... hopefully we can take home a big trophy too.

"Of my two horses Sunny King has worked the best since arriving. He has had four goes on the All-Weather and is four for four. He is finding this just like he does at home. Darren [Beadman] galloped him and said he is handling the turns like he has been doing it every day of the week. I imagine the race will set up some very slick early sectionals which will hopefully set up the finish for the closers."

Dynamic Blitz – Trainer Ricky Yiu said: “He cantered on the All-Weather this morning. Just an easy exercise. His last fast work was on Tuesday and his preparation has been very good. He’s been here about two months and to my eye he has only improved. When he won the Group Three [Al Shindagha] sprint here last time he had only just been in Dubai a few days but he’s really at home in the place now and seems even better. We missed the race on Super Thursday because we were told he would get into this race without having to run then and I felt it was best to keep him fresh. In the race I am hoping Olivier [Doleuze, jockey] can sit just behind the pace, kick in the straight and finish strongly. I am pretty hopeful.”

Euroears – For the second consecutive day, trainer Bob Baffert kept his Dubai Golden Shaheen speedster Euroears in the quarantine area, containing him to light exercise in a jogging ring.

“Everything has gone really smoothly here,” Baffert said of Euroears’ training, which included a 600m (about three-furlong) breeze on Tuesday in :35.26. Since then, the big chestnut seven year old owned by James and Marilyn Helzer of Texas has walked and jogged in the barn area.

“We’re just waiting for the race now,” Baffert said. “He’s ready.”

Baffert himself has been more active, skiing on the indoor slope at Ski Dubai on Thursday and then going to the Arabian Nights party, at which he and Euroears’ jockey, American Hall of Famer Mike Smith, climbed on camels for a ride. Otherwise, the often flamboyant Baffert said he has tried to keep a lower profile than perhaps would be expected.

“My wife told me to behave myself, so I am,” he explained.

Bob Baffert quotes from Friday morning Press Conference

(On being back in Dubai) "It`s amazing to be back in Dubai after my last visit out here in 2001. It has changed so much, not just the racecourse here at Meydan, but the whole city, which is just unbelievable. Yesterday I went skiing in Dubai - how about that?"

(On his horse)"Euroears is doing great. He`s never been on the All-Weather before, but he has been training well on it, but you really just don`t know how they`ll go until they race on it. On a dirt track Euroears can show his speed and put distance between himself and the others, but on a synthetic it`s not always the case. It`s a long ship over here, and everything has to go right, but everything has gone well and there have been no hiccups with him.

"You need a very good horse to win over here and you need luck too. I sent over another very fast horse Indian Blessing a couple of years back, and thought she couldn`t get beat, but she did. I wish I had come over that year, sometimes you have to change things around a little with their training when you have come half way around the world."

(On winning the Dubai World Cup or a Kentucky Derby) "They are kind of different. With the Derby you have got a sense of all that history that goes with it, something that you`re aware of as a kid - with the [Dubai] World Cup it’s an international occasion, more like the Breeders` Cup. When I came with Silver Charm he was a Kentucky Derby winner, so I really didn`t want him to get beaten here. I thought at the head of the stretch he was beaten and would be third or fourth but then he started to run again, and at the line I wasn`t sure. Gary Stevens was starting to celebrate like he thought he`d got it, and then I looked across and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed gave me a thumbs up, and I sort of thought he was telling me I had won. Well, we had, but it wasn`t `til I saw the photograph I realised how close it was."

Green Birdie – Trainer Caspar Fownes said: “He was out this morning on the All-Weather and just cantered. My main trackwork rider Dale Bussey was riding him. He’s as good as we could hope for before the race. He only got here on Tuesday night and that combined with the wide gate is probably not ideal but the main thing is that he have a healthy horse and a horse that has won a Group One overseas before."

Kinsale King – Trainer Carl O`Callaghan reported that Kinsale King, the defending champion of the 1,200-metre dash, had an easy morning back in the quarantine area.

“We just walked him today,” said the Irish-born but California-based conditioner. “The main thing here is to keep him fresh and happy. He runs better like that.”

Rocket Man – Trainer Patrick Shaw said: "Just a canter this morning - nice and easy. The job is done. I`m not really nervous - the butterflies will be there tomorrow but at the moment I`m fine."

Owner Mr F Crabbia added: "This is the best horse I have ever owned. I will never have one like him again. Let`s hope we can break the streak [four very close seconds in international Group Ones including a second in last year`s race] tomorrow."

Group Two US$2 million UAE Derby, sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group

Ahlaain – Trainer David Simcock’s wife Jenny was again in the plate as the UAE Derby outsider stretched his legs on the course at 6:30 am ahead of his fourth start in Dubai tomorrow night.

Alexander Pope, Master of Hounds – The Aidan O’Brien-trained duo had their second outing on the course and covered a circuit of the All-Weather track with Dubai World Cup hope Cape Blanco sandwiched in-between.

Laser Bullet – Laser Bullet walked in the stable area Friday morning. Trainer Kiyoshi Hagiwara commented, “I did not want him to be excited on the day before the racing. That’s why he did not come out on the main track this morning. I think this is better preparation for tomorrow. I suppose he is in a good condition, better than at home.”

Sweet Ducky – Sweet Ducky`s former trainer Kelly Breen said from Louisiana, where he will saddle two runners in Saturday’s Group Two US$1-million Louisiana Derby for Sweet Ducky’s former owners, George and Lori Hall, that Sweet Ducky has outstanding potential.

“That horse is so talented, I don’t think you’ve gotten to see the best of Sweet Ducky yet,” said Breen, who had to say goodbye to the colt when he put him on a plane to Dubai about 10 days ago. “He was perfectly sound; we never had an issue with him. That’s the part you miss, knowing he’s going to get better. But it’s part of the business that it is a business, and when you can take a profit you do, and that makes some of the mistakes you’ve made or horses that might have gotten hurt a little bit easier pill to swallow.”

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov purchased Sweet Ducky from the Halls and the son of Pulpit will carry Kadyrov’s colors in the UAE Derby (G2) and will be saddled by Herman Brown Jr.

Brown said: "He`s a lovely horse, tall and leggy. He cantered this morning; looks good."

Group Two US$1 million Godolphin Mile, sponsored by Etisalat

I Want Revenge – I Want Revenge, entered for the Godolphin Mile sponsored by Etisalat, jogged 1600m in the heavy fog Friday morning. The five year old son of Stephen Got Even arrived at the Meydan main track at 5:45 am under Michelle Nevin, assistant trainer to Richard Dutrow.

I Want Revenge and stablemate Stradivinsky (Al Quoz Sprint) have completed their Dubai World Cup preparation, according to Nevin. Michelle and Chip Dutrow, brother of trainer Richard Dutrow, will walk both horses on Saturday morning.

Make Music For Me – Trainer Alexis Barba strained her eyes to see Make Music for Me train through the heavy fog that had engulfed Meydan Racecourse early Friday morning.

The colt, preparing for Saturday’s Godolphin Mile sponsored by Etisalat entered the racetrack after 6:30 am and soon exited to walk through the tunnel near the clubhouse turn and into the paddock for a look.

“I don’t know how much of a look we had,” said Barba, noting the foggy conditions. “You really need to walk it and learn it or you’re going to get lost. Thank god for Carl (O’Callaghan, who trains Kinsale King, winner of last year`s Dubai Golden Shaheen and back for a chance to repeat this year). One day he took us through the paddock and holding barn and showed us.”

Exercise rider Andy Durnin was aboard Make Music for Me, and soon returned to the All-Weather main track and cantered the son of Bernstein 2400m. Durnin later noted that his charge was training forwardly and would likely train on Saturday morning to take the edge off.

Alexis Barba worked as an assistant trainer to the late Eddie Gregson for 20 years, during which Gregson won the Kentucky Derby in 1982 with Gato Del Sol. Regardless of her years assisting with top-class horses, the privilege of personally training a quality horse like Make Music for Me is not lost on her.

“How could I have ever asked for more?” asked Barba. “He has taken me on a journey that I have never been on before.”

Premio Loco – Trainer Chris Wall made his first visit to morning track work as Premio Loco did a steady piece ahead of his first run of 2011.

The six year old enjoyed his best-ever campaign last term and finished third to Canford Cliffs and Rip Van Winkle in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.

He also has experience of Meydan ran twice at last year’s Dubai International Racing Carnival including when fifth behind subsequent Dubai World Cup winner Gloria De Campeão in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round I.

“He is moving well and has been in good form,” said Wall. “He has traveled over well, is moving well, has drunk well and is eating up so we have to be hopeful. He has had a tight training schedule but there have been no setbacks and he has done all of his work we wanted him to do and he runs well fresh. He has got to turn up and do his best but if he does then I think he can be competitive. He is in better form than he was when running here last year and is moving extremely well on the All-Weather.”

Group Two US$1 million Al Quoz Sprint, sponsored By Emirates NBD

Better Be The One – Trainer Michael Freedman said: "He worked well this morning. All is good - the horse is nice and bright and keen to work. He is switched right on. He cantered one lap on the outside of the All-Weather. We will give him a trot up at the quarantine track tomorrow. My nerves? I`m okay. I`m obviously excited to have my first runner in Dubai so I`m a little bit anxious. As we would say in racing though - I`m still on my feed and water!"

Mar Adentro – Richard Chotard was joking on Friday morning when heavy mist prevented to see any further than a few hundred yards.

“I think my horse is well, I can’t really see him,” he laughed and then added more seriously: “He just cantered round once and tomorrow he will stay at the Quarantine Barn where he will be walked on the lead. That way he will be ready for the big event in the afternoon. I’m very, very happy with him.”

Mr Gruff – Mr Gruff had an easy jog around the All-Weather surface at Meydan Friday morning in advance of his start in Saturday`s US$1 million Al Quoz Sprint, sponsored by Emirates NBD. As has been the case all week, trainer Ron Ellis employed the services of his Hollywood Park neighbor, trainer Carl O`Callaghan, to handle the chores.

With the serious work having been done in California prior to shipping to Dubai, all Ellis can do at this point is make sure things go according to plan heading into Saturday`s 1000m turf dash.

“You do what you can do,” said Ellis as he waited for his charge to come up from the barn for the jog. “You hope nothing goes wrong. This being our first time over here, you want to make sure you get the timings right (as far as coming over from the stable area for the race), but they`ve done such a great job here of making sure we always have what we need.”

Stradivinsky – Preparing for the Dubai Sheema Classic, sponsored by China Guangsha, Stradivinsky jogged 1600m on the main track at Meydan Friday morning. Assistant trainer and exercise rider Michelle Nevin often avoids backing up the eight year old, but the thick fog that had settled in after 5 am kept him cool and focused.

Nevin, is in charge of both Stadivinsky and I Want Revenge in Dubai for Trainer Richard Dutrow. She quickly commented on the pair’s condition on Friday morning.

“The horses are good. No problems,” she said. When asked about Stradivinsky’s sub-par effort in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Nevin had an excuse for the enormous bay. “He missed the break.”

Nevin, longtime assistant to Richard Dutrow, saddled both Diamond Stripes (Godolphin Mile) and Benny the Bull (Dubai Golden Shaheen) to victories on Dubai World Cup night in 2008. Dutrow remained stateside in 2008, and will not make the trip this year either. Rick’s brother Chip has traveled in his place.

Chip Dutrow, who trains 10 horses in New York, is quick to point out who’s in charge in Dubai. “Definitely Michelle,” said Chip. “I’m the hotwalker.”

Nevin was a major part of the success of Big Brown in the 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness. She visits the stallion every time she goes to Kentucky. But, her fondness for horses isn’t limited to those with classic success. She has a soft spot for the former claimer, Stradivinsky, as well.

“I love horses like this guy because he doesn’t want to eat grass over there when there’s people over here, said Nevin. “He’d rather just hang here and hope he can hustle somebody for treats. And, if anybody wants a cuddle, he’s always up for that, or a smooch.”

War Artist – War Artist did a little canter under racing manager Paul Harley’s wife Christiane on Friday morning at Meydan. Paul Harley said: “He just did some light exercise this morning. He is finished with the work, now we just have to wait until tomorrow. He seems well, in great form. I don’t know how important the draw will be. We are drawn nine, so practically in the middle. It will depend where the speed will be. I think there is fresh ground for the first five, but if the speed is on the other side, it won’t matter. Olivier (Peslier) knows him back to front.”