Last-out Hal’s Hope (G3) winner Economic Model counts as an American shipper for Saturday’s $1 million Godolphin Mile (G2), the opening race on the blockbuster Dubai World Cup (G1) card at Meydan. But he will count as an expatriate afterward, much like Doug Watson’s defending Godolphin Mile champion Second Summer and recent prep winner Kimbear.
Purchased privately by Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Economic Model will make his final start for Chad Brown in this spot, and then continue his career in Dubai. The son of Flatter enters on an upward curve, with back-to-back scores around a one-turn mile, and he’ll get that kind of a configuration here.
The Godolphin Mile picture was clear going into Super Saturday, thanks to the dominance of Heavy Metal in the Dubai Creek Mile, Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 (G2), and the Firebreak (G3). But a wide draw in the final local prep, the Burj Nahaar (G3), proved costly as he worked hard early from post 13. The ferocious pace duel with Kimbear, who had the golden rail for much of the way, took its toll. Heavy Metal edged clear temporarily, grew leg-weary, and Kimbear roared back to score the upset. Secret Ambition and Musawaat, a pair of handicappers, got up for the minors. Heavy Metal’s somewhat better off in post 9 here, although still out a little further than ideal. Ryan Moore picks up the mount.
Aside from the Heavy Metal rebound angle, his other major storyline involves trainer Salem bin Ghadayer, who was handed a one-year ban after another of his horses tested positive for a prohibited substance. He appealed, but the Emirates Racing Authority panel upheld the penalty March 19. Now Ghadayer assistant Sandeep Jadhav has taken over as the trainer of Heavy Metal and fellow Godolphin Mile runner Capezzano.
A happier trainer story is furnished by Watson, who has no fewer than four chances as he goes for a third consecutive win in this race. Kimbear was his prime hope, but his luck has turned since Super Saturday, for now he’s stuck in post 12 in the 14-horse field. Watson’s other three are better drawn.
Second Summer hasn’t gotten traction yet this Carnival, most recently finishing a distant fourth in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (G1) over the about 1 1/4-mile World Cup trip. Last year, a similar Round 3 disappointment prompted a change of targets to the Godolphin Mile, and the closer capitalized on a pace meltdown on the off track to get up. Conditions are forecast to be far sunnier in his title defense, but an equipment change – removing the tongue tie – is expected to help his chances. Shadwell blueblood Muntazah tries dirt for the first time, fresh off his first stakes coup on the Abu Dhabi turf, and should act on it as a son of Dubawi. Shamaal Nibras, the Jebel Ali Mile (G3) winner, is far more exposed.
Like Second Summer, Special Fighter shortens up after a subpar fifth in Round 3, and he gets a gear change by adding a first-time visor. The winner of Round 3 in 2016, and fourth to California Chrome in the World Cup, Special Fighter has the back class to make him interesting. Raven’s Corner, in contrast, steps up in distance off a slow-starting seventh in the Mahab al Shimaal (G3), the Super Saturday prep for the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1). The Satish Seemar trainee had appeal until he drew the far outside post 14.
Godolphin’s chances of taking its eponymous race were dealt a blow when French-based Rosa Imperial landed in post 13. Trainer Andre Fabre switched her from the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) on turf once he saw how well the Pivotal filly was handling the Meydan dirt, and she has smart form as the winner of the Prix de Ris-Orangis (G3) over males.
The two Japanese hopes, Adirato and Akito Crescent, don’t have the resume of Utopia, Japan’s lone winner of this race back in 2006. Adirato’s claim to fame is finishing second to Epicharis in last year’s Hyacinth before flopping in the UAE Derby (G2), and Grade 3-placed Akito Crescent, by War Emblem, exits a poor run in the Negishi (G3).
Here’s the complete field with post positions, via emiratesracing.com: