Meydan Racecourse stages another top-class card on Friday, when the sixth meeting of the Carnival should give us some pointers toward runners for the Group 1 Al-Quoz Sprint, UAE Derby and Dubai World Cup on March 25.
The Al-Quoz prep is the Group 2 Blue Point Sprint which is hugely competitive and features the last two winners — Lazuli and Equilateral. Lazuli is squarely the one to beat, having form figures of 1-1-3 over this straight 1,000-meter course (the third, incidentally, was behind Equilateral) but this time he does not have the best of the draw, and maybe the winner can come from elsewhere.
I’m a big fan of the Czech-based sprinter Ponntos who has a good draw here in 11. He was only a length and a quarter behind Lazuli last time and, having had that run, could go a lot closer. He’s the interesting one here for me, while Acklam Express, who always runs well at Meydan but is yet to win there, is another to consider.
The Curlin Handicap, race four, drops down from Listed status this year but there’s no doubt that Hypothetical, a Group 1 winner, is using it as a World Cup prep. His trainer plans to run here and on Super Saturday before heading to the big one, so he’s not fully fit for this first start since March. Best to look elsewhere for the winner, then, and White Wolf is the intriguing one. Well-regarded by trainer Saeed bin Suroor, the 4-year-old was beaten by a whisker on turf from a bad draw two weeks ago.
He switches to dirt here for the first time, and winning would give him a chance of being a Dubai World Cup contender. On pedigree, being by Invincible Spirit out of a Rock Hard Ten mare, he should be just fine. But in case he’s not, I’ll point you in the direction of Ajuste Fiscal, who has run well in better races than this one recently, for the winner of this race.
We have a strong G3 UAE 2000 Guineas this year, with US trainer Doug O’Neill pitching in Tall Boy, who drops down in grade from running in a Grade 2 last time. They think he could be Kentucky Derby material, in which case he should be winning this, although Doug Watson also has high hopes of his Meydan maiden winner Shirl’s Bee, who he reckons could be the best 2-year-old he’s trained. It’s hard to pick between these two, but Shirl’s Bee did well to win after not settling early on last time, so he gets my nod here.
A few other picks for you — Falling Shadow wasn’t beaten far last time out and looks the one to beat in the opening Palm Jumeirah Handicap, while Quality Boone should move forward from his seasonal reappearance last time in the second race, the Dubai Islands Handicap.
Al-Dasim has no penalty for hacking up over course and distance three weeks ago, so he’s the one to be on in the Dubai Trophy, while the final race, the Listed Business Bay Challenge is super competitive, but can perhaps go to the grade-dropping I Am Superman.