Belmont Stakes Contenders
Black-Eyed Susan Day
Preakness Thursday Photos
Invasor laughs at the competition on Friday morning
Friday morning was the last chance for most World Cup day entrants to come out on the Nad al Sheba track to stretch their legs and test the racing surface one last time before racing's richest day. The weather was fine, in contrast to Thursday's unusual rains, and conditions should be perfect on Saturday, with a daytime high of 82 and overnight low of 64, with clear skies. The track should be fast and the turf course good-to-firm.
Post positions have been drawn and are available along with free past performances here.
Dubai World Cup second choice Invasor went out for a final maintenance gallop on Friday morning. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said, "He's undefeated on Lasix which is a concern but he's not a bleeder so it shouldn't affect him. He's bigger and stronger now." McLaughlin lived in Dubai for 10 years working for Godolphin. Regular rider Fernando Jara will be aboard in the big event.
Invasor's connections share some special time with him after his work. Rick Nichols, racing manager for Invasor's owner Shadwell Farm, said, "Kiaran's got him perfect. Invasor does everything so easily. He loves training. To win one of the world's greatest races with the Horse of the Year, it would be awesome."
After jogging once around the track with a pony companion, Premium Tap leaped in the air and took off for his gallop, swishing his tail and pulling on rider Jorge Munoz to do more. As if to make an exclamation point when he passed by Kimmel near the end of his work, Premium Tap bucked with playfulness, eliciting a satisfied grin from the trainer. Kimmel added, "That was a combination of a buck and a flying lead change. He seems pretty happy."
Premium Tap, third in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic, schooled in the starting gate on Friday. Trainer John Kimmel (right) said, "Premium Tap will probably be the third choice in Saturday's Dubai World Cup. He's owned by King Abdulaziz, and is by Pleasant Tap in the United States. He's in great form; he shipped in late (Wednesday) it was a three hour trip, and he's doing very well. I know that Invasor and Discreet Cat deserve top billing, but Premium Tap is going to have to something to say about that on Saturday. He's training very well, and when he gives his top effort, he can run against any horse in the world. I'm excited about that." Regular rider Kent Desormeaux will be in the irons Saturday.
Japan's big hope Vermilion was on the dirt track Friday morning and his trainer Sei Ishizaka said, "We have done everything we could have now. I am looking forward it, but we are facing some strong rivals."
Canadian International and Hong Kong Vase winner Collier Hill was out on the turf with jockey Dean McKeown aboard. Unfortunately, he was scratched out of the race Friday afternoon by trainer Alan Swinbank. This was to be Collier Hill's third try in the Sheema Classic. Swinbank said, "He's had a shoe problem for the last two weeks. It's always the same with these hiccups. It was worse in Hong Kong than it is here. It's hard to train at this level and keep them right. Over the last year he has competed at the highest level. He's won his last two Group One races, so he owes us nothing."
French hope in the Godolphin Mile, Merlerault, went out for a maintenance gallop on Friday for trainer Philippe Demercastel. Regular jockey Stephane Pasquier gets the mount on Saturday.
Top American hope in the Duty Free, Lava Man, was out every morning this week including Friday. The Santa Anita Derby and Sunshine Millions Turf winner will again have Corey Nakatani in the irons on Saturday night for trainer Doug O'Neill. O'Neill will not be in attendance, as he will be with his Kentucky Derby contender Notional who runs in the Florida Derby the same day. Assistant and brother Dennis O'Neill said that as big a day as it is at Dubai on Saturday, the 3-year-old preps are still where it's at. "You know, I still think the Derby's the Derby. I don't think there's anything close to that. I know we won a Breeders' Cup race the last couple of years, but I think it's all about the Derby."
Breeders' Cup Turf winner Red Rocks was out again for trainer Brian Meehan in preparation for his start in the Sheema Classic. New rider Corey Nakatani is aboard on Saturday.
Godolphin Mile entrant Vortex went out for a gallop on the main track on Friday for trainer Gay Kelleway.
Japanese Duty Free hope Admire Moon galloped on turf on Friday. Trainer Hiroyoshi Matsuda said: "Everything is OK and the Nad Al Sheba turf seems to suit him."
Godolphin Mile entrant Fusaichi Richard went out for a gallop on the main track on Friday morning. Trainer Kunihide Matsuda said, "The horse is doing well. I looked at him this morning and his walk is really smooth. He's in good condition and I'm happy."
French hope in the Golden Shaheen, Marchand d'Or, galloped on the dirt. Trainer Freddy Head said, "The horse is very well. He's fresh and wants to run. For us it will be the first time on the sand. He works on the sand at home but in a race it's different. The trip is a little shorter but he's got plenty of speed. His preparation has been perfect, no problems, so we'll see. I think he'll win if he runs up to his best."
Sheema Classic entrant Bellamy Cay was out on Friday morning for trainer Andre Fabre. Regular rider Stephane Pasquier will be in the irons Saturday.
Golden Shaheen entrant Kelly's Landing was out for a final maintenance gallop on Friday morning. New rider Frankie Dettori will be aboard on Saturday as regular rider Edgar Prado rides Scat Daddy in the Florida Derby the same day.
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