Twice a fourth-place finisher in the Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1), Reddam Racing's Pavel is looking to get third-time-lucky for trainer Doug O'Neill in 2020. The good-looking son of Creative Cause—often an eye-catcher during track work over the past two Dubai World Cup lead-ups—is part of a different approach by the two-time Kentucky Derby and five-time Breeders' Cup-winning conditioner, spearheading a mid-January Dubai invasion.
“That is our dream—the (Dubai) World Cup with Pavel,” O'Neill said. “He's definitely the leader of this group. He really does enjoy it over there and I think all of our horses do when they go. They like the long walk from the barn area to the track. It's very tranquil for them and I'm looking forward to all the horses getting an opportunity to experience that. We're excited about it. We'll play which particular races we run in by ear, but I'll have more clarity on that by the first of January.”
Pavel has not raced since a disappointing eighth in the Pacific Classic (G1) in August, but counts a good third in the Suburban Stakes (G2) and respectable sixth in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) to his post-DWC credit in 2019. A G1 winner in 2018, he has finished fourth or better in seven races at the top level in his 18 career starts. Bred by Brereton C. Jones of Airdrie Stud and WinStar Farm, he turns six on Jan. 1 and carries career earnings of $2,090,351.
O'Neill had 17 horses accepted among his applications for the Dubai World Cup Carnival, a $12.74 million, 10-night global showcase in which the average purse is $204,016 among its 61 Thoroughbred fixtures. Of those 17, only one has been withdrawn thus far, Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) alumnus War Beast. He still maintains high hopes for G2-placed sprinter Landeskog, as well as San Francisco Mile (G3) winner Blitzkrieg and a few others.
“Blitzkrieg is a really talented turf horse and both Truck Salesman and Wildman Jack are two really gifted sprint horses on turf and dirt and we're excited about them as well,” O'Neill said. “War Beast was on the list, but he was turned out with a little bit of a shin. There could be changes as we move forward with this, naturally, but Pavel is the big rock star we have coming.”
Alejandro Mercado's Truck Salesman is a fleet-footed dirt sprinter who recently finished second in allowance company at Del Mar, while Wildman Jack, a sharp turf allowance sprint winner at Del Mar on Dec. 1, is campaigned by his Breeders' Cup-winning sire Goldencents' owner, W.C. Racing.
Paul Reddam owns two others who are possible to make the trip, G2-placed stakes winner Fore Left and lightly raced Too Late, who has been clashing with California's best 2-year-olds and holding his own in maiden ranks. This past summer, he finished ahead of highly touted Simon Callaghan trainee and next-out winner Lighthouse.
“It was a mutual thing between us and something we bounced off each other a month ago or so when we were dealing with the uncertainty of Santa Anita,” O'Neill said. “When Dubai came back and accepted our horses, we got really excited. Paul is definitely 100% behind it and we're just hopeful to go over there and compete well.”
While this is the earliest O'Neill has sent horses to Dubai, he has done quite well when he has ventured to the UAE, no matter the surface or distance. He won the 2007 Godolphin Mile (G2) with Reddam's Spring at Last, was second in the 2006 Dubai Turf (G1) with Whilly and in the 2003 Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) with Avanzado, while also managing a third in the 2004 Godolphin Mile with Excessivepleasure. Ten of his 19 DWC night starts earned prize money (finishing sixth or better) and he has competed in six of the eight Thoroughbred DWC night races.
“We're really looking forward to this and grateful for the opportunity,” he concluded. “I'm feeling like we're bringing over a group of horses who can be competitive in the better races.”
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