Dubai World Cup Notes: Pavel Impresses

The Doug O’Neill trained Pavel has impressed in the mornings at Meydan (Photo credit: Andrew Watkins))

Californian raider Pavel continued to impress on Tuesday morning with an effortless gallop over the Meydan dirt track under exercise rider Amir Cedeno.

Trained by Doug O’Neill for owner Reddam Racing LLC, the 4-year-old Pavel is considered a longshot with a big chance.

“It was just a regular canter, a normal gallop,” assistant trainer Leandro Mora said. “Today is just about maintenance going into the race.”

What impressed Mora, however, was how easily the Creative Cause grey completed the task.

“He was holding it really well,” Mora said. “A lot of horses, towards the end of their work, will start to make noise. When he passed by me (on the gallop out), you can hardly hear him puffing. He’s a good-feeling horse right now.”

Pavel proved his class last September with a breakaway score in the Grade 3 Smarty Jones at Parx when six lengths the best. A subsequent third in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park cemented his credentials.

The slight colt has shown the ability to travel his talents and Mora is hopeful that Pavel will again show up with a big effort.

“I know he’s not a big-sized horse, but he’s got a big heart. He’s ready,” Mora said.

Check out USRacing for the latest Dubai World Cup betting odds.

Awardee – Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline contender Awardee cantered once around the main track on Tuesday and is scheduled to work on Wednesday.

Forever Unbridled – Charles Fipke’s champion Forever Unbridled had her stiffest bit of work since arriving in Dubai, galloping 2600m under exercise rider Pedro Velez, who has worked for trainer Dallas Stewart for 17 years.

“She’s doing fantastic,” Stewart said. “She had an awesome morning.”

The 6-year-old Unbridled’s Song mare, who is seeking to become the first female winner of the Dubai World Cup, will be reunited with jockey Mike Smith, who won the event last year with Arrogate. Smith was aboard Forever Unbridled when she finished 11th in the 2015 Kentucky Oaks (G1).

“She was a tired horse in the Oaks. It wasn’t a jockey thing,” Stewart said. “Mike likes her, he’s been watching her and has been wanting to ride her. There’s no need to give him any instructions Saturday. He’ll have his head in the game. His style will fit her well and he knows this track.”

Furia Cruzada – Erwan Charpy kept his contender away from the crowds and closer to his stable to maintain a quieter environment for a 6-year-old mare who can be flighty on occasion.

“She cantered for about 2000m out the back today,” Charpy said. “She’s in good shape and seems very happy. With her, it’s always a day-by-day thing, so I’m not sure what we’ll do on Wednesday. The owners are coming for the post position draw and everyone seems very excited.”

Gunnevera – With trainer Antonio Sano and owner Solomon Del-Valle standing at the Meydan rail, Gunneverarolled through a gallop of about 2400m on Tuesday morning just after 7:00 a.m. as exercise rider Victor O’Farell held the 4-year-old to a steady pace.

“He looks very good,” Sano said. “He maybe lost a little weight after the long flight over here, but he is in very good condition.”

There are no plans for Gunnevera to do any speed work while in Dubai. Sano noted that the chestnut son of Dialed In drilled three times in March at Gulfstream Park West prior to shipping to the United Arab Emirates, including a 1400m workout in a brisk 1:24 on March 10.

Although Gunnevera is not an easy horse to be around in the barn, with Sano noting that he is known for biting his caretakers, the trainer described him as the “best horse of my life,” and if there is a solid pace in the Dubai World Cup, Sano said he expects Gunnevera to be charging forward at the end.

“He’s got a big chance to win,” added Del-Valle.

North America – Trainer Satish Seemar’s best-ever hope for glory in the Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1), North America, was back to routine work at his private Zabeel Stables on Tuesday, after his final hit-out over 800m under big-race jockey Richard Mullen 24 hours earlier.

Seemar reported, “Like our other four runners on Saturday, North America just walked around the training area and all’s fine. Let’s hope we get lucky with the draw tomorrow.”

North America disappointed when the ground turned sloppy for the Godolphin Mile a year ago, but he has made great strides this year, topping off a three-race campaign by winning the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 over Saturday’s distance of 2000m by more than five lengths in a course record time on Super Saturday, March 10.

Talismanic – The Andre Fabre trained quartet of Talismanic, Cloth of Stars, Rosa Imperial and Trais Fluors did not leave the international stables on Tuesday morning, as they had all worked on Monday morning on the dirt track.

 “This morning, all four horses remained in the international stables,” rider Amelie Foulon said. ” We took them out at 7:00 a.m. to walk them in hand for half an hour. They are well. Tomorrow we will return to the dirt track.”

Thunder Snow – Saeed bin Suroor, who has won the race seven times, is relying this year on Thunder Snow, winner of both the UAE 2000 Guineas and UAE Derby last year. Equally effective on turf, he is clearly a very smart performer.

“He looks very well indeed and we are very happy with him,” Bin Suroor said. “Physically, he is as good as we have had him and he has come through all three rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge, winning the middle one and finishing second in the other two. The third round, on Super Saturday, was run at a very fast pace, which could well happen again on Saturday.

“It is not going to be a big field, but we will still be hoping for a good draw, so Christophe Soumillon can ride the race he wants to in a very good renewal,” he continued. “He has two Group 1 wins on turf in Europe and it would be great for the whole team if we could take one on dirt. He showed in the UAE Guineas and Derby last year, as well as three races this year, he handles it well.”

West Coast/Mubtaahij – Bob Baffert thrives on competition at the highest levels of the sport and on the world stage and that’s what has brought the him halfway around the globe to run Mubtaahij and West Coast.

“I bring good horses,” Baffert said. “It’s a privilege to be here. The two brothers (His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum and His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum) had a vision to have this in the Middle East, so you bring your good horses here. We need this in our game.

“It’s good for our sport and for the breeding in America,” he continued. “It’s very important to bring your good horses here. That’s what makes the history of the Dubai World Cup. You’ve got the (American) Classics, the Breeders’ Cup and Dubai World Cup. Those are the three we dream of winning. It’s an honour and a privilege to come here and to run a horse here.”

Baffert kept both of his charges in the stable area on Tuesday morning as they adhered to a light schedule limited to walking following their impressive breezes on the dirt track at Meydan the previous day.

“They’re happy. They look great. It was a nice cool morning, so they feel great,” Baffert said. “The whole key is that they’re eating and drinking water to keep hydrated. They’ve been eating and drinking really well.”

Baffert said he feels significantly less stressed this year than last, when he came to Dubai with Arrogate. The Juddmonte Farms colour-bearer won the race with a stunning and powerful come-from-behind victory after completely missing the break.

“Everything this year is so smooth. The vibe is good. I felt so much pressure last year,” he said. “Competing on the world stage is really exciting. But they have to break well and they have to fight for it and earn it. You have to know your horse really well. Arrogate got light last year, but these horses are holding their weight. I don’t want to jinx myself, but I feel confident.”

The pair will walk again tomorrow and Thursday and they will both be brought to stand in the gate before Saturday’s race.

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