Dubai World Cup day races - Laurel Guerreiro to run in the Dubai Golden Shaheen
Trackwork at Meydan Racecourse
The Dubai Golden Shaheen, sponsored by Gulf News, carries total prize money of $2 million. It is the fifth race on Saturday in the eight-race all-group card that includes five group I races. The Dubai Golden Shaheen is open to 3-year-olds and up and run over 1,200 meters on the synthetic track.
This year, members in the 10-strong field hail from six countries in addition to Japan -- Australia, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Singapore, the UAE and the United States. Representing Japan is Laurel Guerreiro, by King Halo out of the Tenby mare Big Tenby. Admittedly, the 6-year-old is considered somewhat of a longshot in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. He will be ridden by veteran Japanese jockey Shinji Fujita, 38. Fujita rode Laurel Guerreiro to his G1 win in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen last year.
The first two runnings of what is now the Dubai Golden Shaheen were held in 1993 and 1994 in the month of December, after which the sprint was then transferred to the initial Dubai World Cup day in 1996. The race was named the Nad Al Sheba Sprint until 2000 and took place over six furlongs on dirt up to and including 2009, becoming a Group 1 contest in 2002.
Following the construction of the state of the art Meydan Racecourse, the 2010 renewal of the $2-million Dubai Golden Shaheen will be run on Tapeta for the first time on Saturday, March 27. Whereas dirt sprints took place over a straight six furlongs at Nad Al Sheba, this year’s race on the artificial surface will be the first contested around a turn. This is the case for Japan’s top-level sprints as well.
American horses have long dominated the race, winning eight of the years over the past 10 years, five in a row from 2004 through 2008. The American winning streak ended, however, in 2009, when the race was won by Big City Man for Saudi Arabian-based trainer Jerry Barton and owner Prince Sultan Mohammed Saud Al Kabeer.
Likely favorites this year are the 5-year-old Gayego, vying for the spot with Singapore raider Rocket Man. Dual graded stakes winner Kinsale King, 5, from the United States is looking to emerge as third choice in this year’s Dubai Golden Shaheen.
At home in Japan, Laurel Guerreiro has done well especially over turf and scooped both of the country’s top sprint races last year, going wire to wire in both the Grade 1 Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse in October and the Grade 1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen at Chukyo Racecourse in Nagoya on March 29.
No stranger to foreign ground, however, the Dubai Golden Shaheen will be Laurel Guerreiro's third overseas' outing . Hopes are it will be the first time to taste success. He traveled to Hong Kong for the Hong Kong Sprint in both 2008 and 2009, but finished far out of the money in 8th and 13th place, respectively. Laurel Guerreiro has drawn the No. 4 post position.
Laurel Guerreiro’s last race was the Grade 1 February Stakes, run Feb. 21 at Tokyo over 1,600 meters on dirt. Going off as the eighth choice, Laurel Guerreiro took the lead in his characteristic running style until the stretch, but failed to hold his ground and finished seventh. The race was won by Espoir City. At top-level racing, Laurel Guerreiro is considered best to 1,200 meters.
Lanfranco Dettori is paired with the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Gayego, carrying 57 kg (as are all the runners) and breaking from post 8. Gayego is the son of Gilded Time and was purchased by Godolphin Stables at the start of this year and prepped for the race with a second-place finish in the Feb. 11 Al Shindagha Sprint. He has won or placed in 11 of 15 starts.
Singapore's champion sprinter Rocket Man, trained by Patrick Shaw, will be ridden by Robert Fradd. Shaw has commented that, as he expected Laurel Guerreiro to lead, he wanted to take up a position just behind the Japanese frontrunner. On the form book, Rocket Man, a 4-year-old Australian-bred son of Viscount, is clearly the horse to beat with an international rating of 121. However, Rocket Man was injured last year following his win of the International Sprint in Singapore. Rocket Man has not raced in nearly seven weeks, not since his comeback in February, a stakes race sprint he won. Rocket Man has drawn the No. 6 slot.
Kinsale King is bidding for his fourth straight win on his first start away from home. The son of Yankee Victor, his last race was a winning one in the Jan. 23 Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita. Kinsale King, who will be breaking from the No. 7 post position, is trained by Carl O'Callaghan and will be ridden by U.S.-based jockey Garrett Gomez.
On Tuesday, Laurel Guerreiro was given a light gallop alone under his assistant trainer over the all-weather track. Trainer Mitsugu Kon was pleased with the horse's condition and commented on his worksaying, "He's a horse that one doesn't have to worry about too much and one that does not change easily.” Kon planned to give Laurel Guerreiro a blowout on Wednesday. "The workload is a lot less compared to back home on the hill at Ritto," he said. "I plan to push him relatively hard." Kon said he was pleased with the No. 4 post position drawn. "It's a great spot," he said.
Laurel Guerreiro was bred at Murata Bokugo. He has had 28 outings, including his two Hong Kong runs, and has notched 5 wins, 7 seconds and 2 thirds. He has earned owner Laurel Racing Co. Ltd. over ¥482 million.
The Dubai Golden Shaheen post time is 7:15 p.m. Saturday, March 27 local time, or a quarter past midnight in Japan.
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