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Desert Party – high class and improving
by Geir Stabell / Globeform
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When Godolphin’s trainer Saeed bin Suroor saddled the first two home in the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3), the powerful stable’s expensive purchase Vineyard Haven was not in the mix.

Bitterly disappointing back in fourth place, he had no chance with a colt named Desert Party, given a confident ride by Frankie Dettori to win for the second time at the Carnival.

On Guineas day he, rather than Vineyard Haven, looked a UAE Derby (G2) winner in the making, and he is the likely favourite for the $2-million classic.

After racing just off the pace, the ex-Eoin Harty trainee came with a determined run to outstay another nice Godolphin runner, Regal Ransom, just like he had also in the prep for this Guineas. They finished one-two again but this time Desert Party was more dominant. He is going very much the right way, and stretching up to 1800 metres in the Derby will not be a problem.

Desert Party had actually beaten Vineyard Haven before, when taking the Sanford Stakes (G2) at Saratoga last summer, but Vineyard Haven hit back in no uncertain fashion in the prestigious Hopeful Stakes (G1) at the same course in September, when he won readily and Desert Party could manage only sixth. He did have an excuse that day, however, as Desert Party stumbled at the start and was immediately shuffled back. It was a bad day in the office. Eoin Harty, who had a good season in 2008, never lost faith in the colt, saying that he felt he was a top class prospect all along. Desert Party joined Godolphin at the end of last year, and he has made a perfect start for the team in blue.

Dettori rode him just off the pace in the Guineas, taking up a position on the inside, and the colt will have learnt a lot from that experience. He was asked to come through with his challenge between horses, after having faced the kick back in the early exchanges, and nothing seemed to bother him. When given the office by Frankie, he put his head down and went about his businesses like an old pro. Saeed bin Suroor has been forced to but Midshipman on the shelf, meaning that Desert Party is his best card if he wants to sit in at the table on Kentucky Derby day at Churchill Downs in May. Desert Party appears to have enough stamina for 1 ¼ miles on dirt, and the two runs under his belt already this year will stand him stand him in good stead should he meet the big boys in Kentucky.

First though, there is that not so unimportant race called the UAE Derby (G2) on World Cup night, a race that will tell us a lot more about this guy. His sire was beaten a nose by stable companion Express Tour, when favourite for the UAE Derby eight years ago. Hopes are high that Desert Party can gain revenge for that unexpected defeat.

Bought for $2,1 million as a two-year-old at the Fasig-Tipton Sales, Desert Party certainly has the right family connections. He is a son of Dubai World Cup (G1) and Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) winner Street Cry, out of the Tabasco Cat daughter Sage Cat. This pedigree says that he should stay well, and that is also what his style of running suggests.

Published: 2009-03-15 10:16:15

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