Six-time leading UAE trainer Doug Watson served notice last week with a five-win evening at Meydan—including sweeping both Listed Stakes—that he could be sitting on a career-best Dubai World Cup Carnival.
Opening night could be a fruitful first card for the American native of Wheaton, Illinois (greater Chicago). Watson plans to start at least two in the Group 3 US$200,000 Dubawi Stakes over 1200m (six furlongs)—a prep for the world's richest dirt sprint over the same distance, the Group 1 $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (Mar. 30)—led by recent Garhoud Sprint (Listed) winner Drafted. The Misty Hollow Farm-owned grey gelding could be joined by 2018 Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) winner My Catch.
Drafted's story has been one of many ups and downs, but he now appears to be approaching a productive homeostasis. A seasoned traveler, he was born in Florida, broke a track record in Kentucky on debut at Keeneland, raced at Royal Ascot in England, sold at auction in Dubai and ultimately has locally worked his way back into form for Watson—all with just nine career starts since. Drafted was a hard-charging winner last out in the Garhoud Sprint, a race in which he defeated five other 2018 Carnival winners.
“Drafted had done really well since his win,” Watson said. “He really impressed me that night and he's filled out since then. He never works with a horse because he works so fast and he has done even more in his works recently. He'll stick to (1200m, six furlongs) for now and see how far that takes us. In his races, if he breaks on terms, he's going to be coming at the end. You don't want him to be get too far out of it early.
“My Catch is a horse we've had since he was a 2-year-old and has had some time off since (finishing eighth in the Dubai Golden) Shaheen (on Mar. 31),” Watson continued. “He's a funny horse who likes things a certain way. I'm going to take him over (to Meydan) on Saturday and work him. All things going well, he'll run back in the Dubawi. If we decide not to run him, we'll likely run Almanaara, instead. Almanaara came out of his run in the Garhoud in good shape, but may not have been ready. There's a 1200m (six-furlong) race on the seventeenth we'll look at, otherwise, with him.”
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