Trainer Salem bin Ghadayer is entering the first big card of the UAE season on Thursday with proverbial guns blazing and the biggest piece of his arsenal appears to be Phoenix Thoroughbreds and Khalid bin Mishref's $12 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) runner-up Gronkowski who makes his first start since losing said race by a nose to two-time champ Thunder Snow.
The 120-rated four-time winner from 12 starts is more famous for his placings than victories, including a second to Triple Crown winner Justify in the 2018 Belmont Stakes (G1), but will try to go one better in Saturday's $72,000 The Entisar Stakes.
“He's doing well and his training is going just right,” Bin Ghadayer said. “He's going the right way and, at the end of the day, this is going to be a prep race for him. I'm happy with him. I would say he is about 80-85% ready and he's fit for this kind of race. I am not scared about the distance off the (layoff). This is a first race for him. He'll be in form.
“He's a sound horse and the only thing I can say is that he can be a bit naughty at the starting gate,” Bin Ghadayer continued. “Hopefully he does well with that. To be honest, with how he trains, he shows speed and I won't worry about him going the (1800m) of the Saudi Cup or 2000m of (The Entisar). Going back to his history, he's a stayer, but he shows enough speed (to be forwardly placed). We will see how it goes Thursday.”
Bin Ghadayer will have two in the seven-horse race, with Phoenix Ladies Syndicate's Talento Puma supplying the lion's share of intrigue. Previously owned by Don Yayo, the Argentine-bred 4-year-old colt owns a mere three starts and has never raced beyond 1600m, but was absolutely dominant in his last two tries in November 2018, winning by a total of 20 lengths. The final time in his last race, 1:21.53 for 1400m, is especially eye-catching, but the grandson of Belmont Stakes winner Editor's Note must overcome a 375-day layoff and jump up 600m in trip.
“He's a new horse and we have just had him since this summer,” Bin Ghadayer explained. “He's had three starts in Argentina and he won going seven furlongs, but how he shows at home that he could be a nine- or 10-furlong horse. We need to see one race to confirm how he will be and how far (he wants to run). For me, he's not a seven-furlong horse. We'll see, because Thursday is a different test. We'll need the race and right now he's rated 99 and I'd like to improve his rating.”
Another of note for Bin Ghadayer on the stellar seven-race card is HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum's Group-proven Inverleigh. The 2-for-7 son of Excelebration made his UAE bow with an uninspiring ninth at Jebel Ali on Nov. 15, showing speed early before fading. He has proven back-class, including a second in Irish Group 3 company and clashing with Group 1 winner So Perfect earlier this season. To compete with merit in Thursday's $72,000 Garhoud Sprint (Listed) over 1200m, the Listed winner over 1100m must prove his ability over the dirt.
“Inverleigh must prove his form and it's a tough race, but I hope he goes well,” Bin Ghadayer concluded. “He is training very well, so I hope everything goes the right way Thursday. He had very good form on turf in Ireland and Jebel Ali was just a prep. He's a keen horse, but he has ability—but he must show it.”
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