The Meydan racing season picks up a notch when the iconic racecourse hosts a cracking eight-race card on Friday where the highlight is the Listed Dubai Creek Mile, a race that is an early pointer to the coveted $1million Godolphin Mile (G1 Dirt) on Dubai World Cup day.
Some of the UAE’s best milers are among the 13-strong field, but the question every trainer will be asking himself is whether a big race candidate can emerge from the pack and lay down the gauntlet for the rest of the season’s top 1,600 metre contests.
In-form Jebel Ali handler Michael Costa is sure to have that view as he sends out an exciting new recruit in Home Brew, a dual Stakes winner when previously trained by 2020 Eclipse Award winning trainer Brad Cox in America.
However, the well-bred 4-year-old colt by Darley stallion Street Sense will have to overcome several star performers at Meydan and a long absence from the track, having not raced for 425 days since winning a Stakes race at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.
But if Costa has taken some notes from Cox after he welcomed Home Brew to his Jebel Ali Stables he will not be too fussed about the extended break as the galloper appears to thrive on running fresh as he showed when taking out the Oaklawn Stakes after a three-month sabbatical.
Of more concern will be the quality of opposition Home Brew, the mount of stable jockey Ben Coen, that he will have to contend with Friday’s showpiece, which like the rest of the seven races on the card is sponsored by Nakheel.
Leading the pack is two-time course and distance winner Al Nefud whose attempt to win the 2023 Godolphin Mile for 2021-2022 UAE champion trainer Bhupat Seemar were hindered by an injury to his hind leg.
Al Nefud will have the services of 11-time UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea, who has chosen to partner Seemar’s younger campaigner in favour of Abele stables veteran, the evergreen ten-year-old Secret Ambition.
Reports from Seemar’s stables indicate that Secret Ambition, who has won seven times on the Meydan dirt, is showing no signs of slowing down and remains as exuberant and enthusiastic as ever. Just seven month ago he drove home the point when galloping to victory in the Jebel Ali Classic.
Others in the field include Ahmed Al Shemali’s 2022 Group 3 Burj Nahaar scorer Desert Wisdom and 2023 UAE Oaks heroine Mimi Kakushi, who faze Stables boss Salem bin Ghadayer described as the best filly he had ever trained.
Mimi Kakushi has her first start since her eighth-place finish behind Pretty Mischevious in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs in May this year.
Uruguayan handler Julio Olascoaga has booked big-race jockey James Doyle to partner Es-Unico, one of two runners he saddles in the feature, with Jose da Silva board Atletico El Culano.
Few races at Meydan are complete with their compliment of runners from champion trainer Doug Watson’s pioneering Red Stables and the American handler send out a trio of hopefuls led by course and distance scorer Everfast who was a noteworthy fifth of 14 to stable companion Isolate in the Godolphin Mile earlier this year.
Watson also saddles 2022 Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge (Round 1) winner Golden Goal and stable veteran Thegreatcollection who rarely runs a bad race on the Meydan dirt.
Friday’s meeting kicks-off with the Group 3 Bani Yas for Purebred Arabians, a race that has attracted a strong field that includes Majed Al Jahoori’s Najm Al Wathba and the Ernst Oertel-trained AF Alajaj.
However, RB Money Maker, who destroyed the field on his UAE debut at Al Ain, could be the horse to beat in the seven-furlong contest.
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