As a Grade 1 winner on turf and dirt, Yoshida brings style and versatility as one of the top contenders for Saturday’s $12 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1). Trained by Bill Mott for owners China Horse Club International Ltd, WinStar Farm, Starlight Racing and Head of Plains Partners, the 5-year-old son of Heart’s Cry has notched four of his five career wins on the turf, including a three-quarter-length score in the Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs last May.
However, the strapping bay proved to be equally as efficient, if not better, when making his dirt debut last summer in the Woodward (G1) at Saratoga. Settled in 10th position in the early running under Joel Rosario, Yoshida advanced with a serious turn of foot to collar Dubai World Cup rival Gunnevera for a two-length win. Farther back in the field was fellow Dubai World Cup runner Seeking the Soul.
“When he won the Grade 1 on the dirt at Saratoga, he showed a tremendous turn-of-foot in the last (400m),” Mott said. “He’s a big, hearty horse who gets over the dirt very well.”
Jose Ortiz, who has the call aboard Yoshida on Saturday, took over from Rosario for his second dirt start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and the talented bay again responded with a powerful rallying effort to finish fourth, defeated less than two lengths after bobbling at the start.
“He’s built like a dirt horse,” Mott said. “He works well on both surfaces.”
Yoshida took to the Meydan dirt track just after 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday under exercise rider Penny Gardiner for a maintenance breeze.
“He went an easy three-eighths (600m) and it looked like he got over the ground very well,” Mott said. “We’re just trying to keep him happy until race day. Most of the serious breezing has been done. When you travel this far, it’s important to keep the horse happy. We’re really pleased with how the horse is doing right now.”
Audible hit the Meydan dirt track after 7:00 a.m. and put in a steady gallop under exercise rider Amelia Green, who is overseeing the colt’s preparations for the $12 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) for trainer Todd Pletcher and owners China Horse Club, WinStar Farm, Head of Plains Partners, and Starlight Racing. After struggling over sealed, sloppy conditions in his last two starts—a runner-up finish in the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (G3) last December and a fifth in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) on January 26—catching fast conditions this week is expected to be key for the son of Into Mischief.
“The one thing we felt like after evaluating the Harlan’s Holiday and the Pegasus, talking to the riders, both Javier (Castellano) and Flavien (Prat), they felt like he tolerated the sloppy conditions, but didn’t really enjoy them,” Pletcher said of Audible’s last two starts. “So I think that compromised his finish a little bit in both races. The track on Pegasus day definitely was a track where you wanted to be inside if you could. From his post, he was never really able to work himself inside. I thought, despite that, he tried hard and ran a credible race.”
Audible is seeking his first victory since taking the Cherokee Run Stakes at Churchill Downs Nov. 3 and has only been worse than third once in nine career starts.
Axelrod, Capezzano, Gronkowski
Salem bin Ghadayer, the Al Aryam Stables-based trainer, saddles three runners in the Dubai World Cup.
Capezzano, who was the nine-and-half-length winner of the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 on Super Saturday, the official prep race for the Dubai World Cup, breezed at home on Tuesday morning alongside his stable companions. A winner of three consecutive outings in the lead up to the Dubai World Cup, Bin Ghadayer says that wearing a hood has made all the difference to the 5-year-old.
“Capezzano has always been a good horse and running in a hood has really helped him to calm down,” said the trainer, whose charge had previously run in the 2018 Godolphin Mile, recording a 13th place finish and beaten by stablemate, Heavy Metal.
The Phoenix Thoroughbreds-owned pair of Gronkowski and Axelrod are said to be shaping up well for their Dubai World Cup tilt.
“Axelrod arrived a little bit late, but he’s really improved since his Super Saturday run. Gronkowski is improving every day,” Bin Ghadayer said.
Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 Replay
South Korean flag-bearer Dolkong kept his preparation ticking over by cantering on the dirt track on Tuesday morning under regular work rider Lizzie Stubbington.
Trainer Simon Foster said: “We just keep varying things with him a little each day. He looks great and having three weeks to prepare since his last race on Super Saturday will stand him well for Saturday. He had just nine days to back up before his last start and still ran third in a Group 1, so we’re hoping for the best. He keeps responding to everything he has faced here to date.”
Trainer Antonio Sano is expected to be in Dubai to see Gunnevera on Wednesday, so sons Alex and Maurizio continued the preparation with the chestnut for another light leg stretch on the dirt track.
“The horse went half a lap the opposite way jogging and then did a lap and a half of slow gallop,” Alex Sano said. “He did it very, very well and the exercise rider was happy. He was strong the whole way. With a good post position and if the training keeps going well, I think the horse has a very strong chance.”
K T Brave
K T Brave was out first thing on the dirt track this morning where he cantered two laps with exercise rider Yosuke Fusano.
“He is eating up well and had really settled into his surroundings. He is in good shape and felt really good out there this morning,” Fusano said. “I’ll breeze him tomorrow morning.”
Ahmad bin Harmash, who trains amid the peace and quiet of the desert close by the resort of Bab Al Shams, is trying hard to contain his excitement at the prospect of sending out a strong team including New Trails as his first runner in the feature event.
“It’s a dream come true and a real challenge,” he said on Tuesday, after supervising another routine session of exercise for the lightly-raced 5-year-old, who was off the track for 18 months after being switched from Andre Fabre’s stable to Bin Harmash last October.
New Trails, bred by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Darley operation, arrived in Dubai as a 90-rated handicapper and has steadily risen through the ranks after notching a win on his first start for his new yard. His best effort was a 2¼ lengths second to North America in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R2.
Although New Trails could subsequently manage only fourth behind pace-setting Capezzano in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3, Bin Harmash was not downhearted.
“That last run was intended to ensure his invitation for the Dubai World Cup and to plan his last workout for it,” he said.
Having worked over 800m at trainer Satish Seemar’s Zabeel stables on Monday, the 7-year-old had an easy morning today.
The draw ceremony takes place tomorrow and Seemar added: “Anything from 1 to 6 would be my choice.”
After cantering on Monday morning, the Doug O’Neill-trained contender Pavel remained inside the quarantine barn in Dubai on Tuesday morning.
Leandro Mora, O’Neill’s assistant, said: “I’m very happy with what I saw. Even though we are in a foreign country, we do the American thing, so he only walked this morning, which is what we would do at home after a horse works. Tomorrow I will jog him on the track.”
Looking forward to the Dubai World Cup post position draw on Wednesday, O’Neill said: “I would love to see him drawn somewhere in the middle. That would be ideal.”
Seeking the Soul
Trainer Dallas Stewart was on hand for the first time on Tuesday morning after arriving from New Orleans. He was pleased with what he witnessed as Charles Fipke’s homebred Seeking the Soul galloped strongly under regular exercise rider Pedro Velez.
“He looks great,” Stewart said. “He shipped in well. He looks like a prize fighter.”
Seeking the Soul comes into the Dubai World Cup after a second in the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park. Last year, he exited his fifth-place effort in the same race with an injury that forced him to the sidelines until July, but he returned to finish among the top three in all but one start—an uncharacteristic 13th in the Woodward Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.
“I just can’t figure out what happened in the Woodward,” Stewart said. “I thought about it and I thought about it. But, he bounced out of it well. He was second in the Breeders’ Cup and second in the Pegasus, so he has the credentials to be here. I think he has a heck of the shot.”
Godolphin’s Thunder Snow is reported in great health ahead of his attempt to defend his crown. Victorious in the 2017 UAE Derby (G2), he made history when becoming the first winner of that Dubai World Cup card highlight to follow up in the big race itself, a contest no horse has won twice.
“We could not be happier with him,” said trainer Saeed bin Suroor. “Everything has gone to plan and he worked very well on Saturday. He had a very busy 2018, so the idea was always to wait for Super Saturday and we knew he would need that run. He did, but has improved a lot since. We are really looking forward to Saturday.”