Two years after a disastrous first trip to Dubai, trainer Luis Carvajal Jr. took no chances getting his stable star ready for a second attempt at the Dubai Golden Shaheen. Imperial Hint became very ill flying from the cold temperatures of Philadelphia to Dubai in 2017, which forced him to miss the race, so he has been wintering at Tampa Bay Downs in 2019, which has a climate much more similar to Dubai's.
“He's shipped in well,” Carvajal Jr. said. “He's doing really well.”
Imperial Hint is one of just 21 horses in Carvajal Jr.'s stable and is by far the best horse he has ever trained.
“There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about what that little rocket has done for me and my family. He's taken us on a great journey.”
The two-time defending Breeders' Cup Sprint winner was among the strong four-horse contingent of trainer Peter Miller's 2019 Dubai World Cup meeting runners who went out on the track Monday on morning to stretch their legs. He is expected to breeze 600m on Tuesday morning as he readies for a return engagement in the Dubai Golden Shaheen, where he will be partnered with Paco Lopez.
“It will be just to get a feel for the track, open up their lungs and stretch their legs,” said Miller, who also saddles Stormy Liberal and Belvoir Bay in the Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments and Gray Magician in the UAE Derby sponsored by the Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group. “It's nothing too strenuous for any of them. Today everyone did their thing and there are no complaints.”
Miller is making his third straight appearance here and looking for his first visit to the winner's circle. Last year, Roy H was third in this race after missing the break and Stormy Liberal suffered a tough beat to be second in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. In 2017, Richard's Boy was fifth in the Al Quoz Sprint.
“I hope the third time is the charm,” he said. “This is the world stage. It's a great night of racing. Sheikh Mohammed (His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum) puts on a great show. I'm just honored to be here my third year in a row.”
Miller confirmed that Joel Rosario will ride Gray Magician and Stormy Liberal, and he will leg up Flavien Prat on Belvoir Bay. Though he is looking for big things from all his runners and respects his competition, he is especially confident in Roy H.
“This is a very deep race with a lot of good horses. If he runs his race, he's better than these horses. He's beaten these horses on numerous occasions and we traveled halfway around the world. We're not competing in a home game so there is no such thing as a cinch, but if he runs his race, he's the best horse and there is no doubt about it—but that's an awfully big if.”
X Y Jet will be looking to go one better when he makes his Meydan return in the Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News. Last year, the flashy grey, trained by Jorge Navarro for Rockingham Ranch and Gelfenstein Farm, flew to the lead with 300m to run only to be collared in the final stride by a furious late charge from Mind Your Biscuits. The 7-year-old Kantharos gelding missed a few days of training leading into the Dubai Golden Shaheen last year and Navarro said he is being extra careful with X Y Jet as he goes through his final preparations for Saturday night's return bout.
“I'm just keeping him happy and trying to run away from every obstacle he puts me through,” Navarro said. “Our team pays attention to all the little details to make sure he's taking care of himself. For some reason, he always finds a way to put you under stress.”
X Y Jet made a belated appearance to the Meydan dirt track after 7:00 a.m. with the conditioner allowing the horse to travel to the track at his leisure before his morning training.
“We open galloped him and he went pretty slow,” Navarro said. “I'm fine with it. We did everything we needed to do in the United States. The facilities here are top notch – best I've ever seen. This is my fourth year here in a row and what they do for the horses and my crew is top notch.”
X Y Jet will be making just his third start of the year on Saturday night following two prep races at his home base at Gulfstream Park. The millionaire grey finished fourth in his seasonal debut in the Sunshine Millions Sprint followed by a romping clear in an optional claiming tilt.
“We went through some details before the race last year, but this time I think I'm bringing him solid into this race. I think he likes to run fresh,” Navarro said. “ In the Sunshine Millions he went :21 and change (for the opening 400m) and the half (800m) in :43. It was probably the quickest second quarter at Gulfstream Park this year. I was bummed out but also happy with how he came back.
“It was probably a mistake to bring him back in a stakes race,” Navarro continued. “I probably should have looked for an easier spot, but when you have a super cool horse like X Y Jet you want to show him off. You want to show off your 'Ferrari' but now it's about keeping him happy. It's all about him.”
Emisael Jaramillo, regular pilot of the Florida-bred rocket, will retain the mount for Saturday night's test.
Misty Hollow Farm's Drafted, trained by Doug Watson, is in career-best form heading into the $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News. The 5-year-old Field Commission gelding has won three of four starts this season starting with a dramatic nose score in the Garhoud Sprint while making his seasonal debut. Following a runner-up effort in the Group 3 Dubawi Stakes, Drafted came back to win the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint, by less than a length, over the upwardly mobile Tato Key.
Last out, the swift grey, with a dramatic flair, prevailed by a neck in a photo with Nine Below Zero and familiar rival Tato Key. Drafted breezed on Sunday morning at Watson's training yard in his final prep.
“He went a half-mile (800m) on his own,” Watson said. “We're coming back in three weeks and haven't done much with him since. We've tried to keep him fresh. When he works, he goes hard. He goes a good canter over here every morning.”
Watson said he is optimistic regarding Drafted's chances on Saturday night in a field that includes top American sprinters Roy H, Imperial Hint and last year's runner-up X Y Jet.
“He's come out of that last race in good shape. He's trained forward and we're very happy with him,” Watson said.
Matera Sky went out to the Meydan dirt track this morning at 5:00 a.m. where he trotted one lap and cantered another.
“This was the second time he has travelled to Dubai so it was very smooth,” groom Masaki Takano said.
The 5-year-old American bred will be taking on other top dirt sprinters in the Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News this weekend with Japan's current leading jockey Yutaka Take.
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