Golden Shaheen: Americans know this game best
by Franco Raimondi (firstname.lastname@example.org) / Globeform ()
Last update: 2008-03-27 08:12:57 (First published: 2008-03-15 03:14:26 )
Nad Al Sheba: This race has so often been dominated by runners from North America.
It may be run over a straight track, something they have no experience of at home, but the Dubai Golden Shaheen is a race where emphasis is on a quick start followed by sustained speed.
And that, that is something horses from New York, Kentucky, Florida and California know a whole lot about. On World Cup night, the yanks will be back, this time represented by top class speed merchants such as the 5-year-old Benny the Bull and the 4-year-old Idiot Proof.
The home team is led by an American too, as Godolphin’s import Diabolical will be trying to follow up on his fine win on Super Thursday.
THE DUBAI GOLDEN SHAHEEN (G1)
Nad Al Sheba 29 March 2008 – 1200 m. dirt (straight)
Horses presented with sires best Globeform
ratings achieved, GF most recent starts (l-to-r),
and riders (1 length = 3lbs)
124 – BENNY THE BULL (Lucky Lionel) / E Prado
121 – IDIOT PROOF (Benchamrk) / D Flores
119 – DIABOLICAL (Artax) / L Dettori
115 – BARBECUE EDDIE (Stormy Atlantic) / A Gryder
114 – MUNADDAM (Green Desert) / M Dwyer
..?+ – NARC (National Assembly) / J Murtagh
113 – BUSHWACKER (Outflanker) / J Talamo
111 – ESPERAMOS (Stormy Atlantic) + / G Gomez
110 – NEW FREEDOM (Burooj) / T O’Shea
108 – COBALT BLUE (Golden Missile) / T Durcan
105 – DRIFT ICE (Western Winter) / K Shea
104 – STAR CROWNED (Kingmambo) / M Kinane
103 – MUTAMARRES (Green Desert) / R Hills
103 – CALRISSIAN (Efisio) 14 Mar: 103 / R Moore
101 – SARISSA (Music Prospector) / C-P Lemaire
A “+” after name of horse indicates improvement expected.
Benny the Bull, who produced his career best last time he raced, will probably be hard to beat in the big sprint.
Judged on his win in the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream Park in January, there is one big difference in Benny the Bull this year; he has gained better tactical speed and is now able to stay much closer to the pace. That makes him a seriously effective sprinter who must have a big chance in at Nad Al Sheba.
The Sunshine Millions Sprint, run over 6 furlongs at Gulfstream Park in January, was not as hotly contested as the Grade Ones he ran in last fall, but it was still noticeable how well he travelled – sitting just off a pace producing these fractions; 21.9, 44.5 and 56.4. That is not exactly a leisurely pace and Benny the Bull was just a length or so off the track record as he stopped the clocks in 1:08.48. He made a strong move early in the straight, finding a nice gap by the rail, and powered away for an easy 4 ½-length win over Santana Strings, with Mach Ride ¾ lengths further back in third.
Benny the Bull is a strong contender for championship honors this season. He closed out his 2007 campaign with a fine win in the De Francis Memorial Dash (G1) at Laurel Park, where he beat Talent Search by 1 ¼ lengths over 6 furlongs. Many horses, especially placed horses, take a bad ‘bounce’ next time out after the Breeders’ Cup but Benny the Bull was as good as ever at Laurel. Impressive, not least since he had come up against a totally unsuitable (sloppy) track in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Monmouth four weeks earlier, yet managed fourth, behind Midnight Lute, Idiot Proof and Talent Search. He’s tough.
Benny the Bull has won 6 of his 14 races and he has been second or third three times. This gives us a 64% strike rate in the top three, a figure that is quite likely to improve in 2008. Six furlongs and a fast track is ideal for this son of Lucky Lionel, but it will be interesting to see him over seven, as his style might make him even more effective with another furlong. The early pace will almost certainly be very fast on Saturday – and that will suit him well, as he has the ability to stay close to the speed and pounce late.
Idiot Proof, who has disappointed a bit this year (but now tries blinkers), and Diabolical, whose win over course and distance on Super Thursday was visually impressive, are closely matched on ratings. Preference must go to the Godolphin horse, as he has proved his wellbeing recently. Idiot Proof was even better last year though, and he was second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) so he must be respected.
By a world class sprinter, out of a daughter of a world class sprinter, Diabolical certainly has the pedigree to be one himself and he comes here off a sharp win.
Never far off the early pace, he went to the lead 200 metres from the winning post and was soon on total command as he won the Mahab Al Shimaal (G3). The son of Artax, an outstanding sprint champion in the USA, strode clear to win by 4 ½ lengths from Star Crowned, who just got up to snatch second from New Freedom.
This was a contrasting performance to Diabolical’s first start at Nad Al Sheba, and also his first run of the year. He missed the break and ran well below his true form when fourth, beaten nearly five lengths behind Asiatic Boy in the Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) in January. Diabolical is much better than that showing, something we all saw in the Al Shimaal and something US racing fans saw last term. Trained by Steven Klesaris, Diabolical produced a high class performance to land the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G2) over 6 furlongs at Saratoga last July.
He ran to Globeform 119+ in the Vanderbilt, where he beat the more experienced sprinter Attila’s Storm by half a length. Diabolical had previously beaten Talent Search (who was placed in three G1 sprints subsequently) in the Maryland Breeders’ Cup Sprint Handicap (G3) at Pimlico, also over 6 furlongs. Diabolical was stalking the pace on both occasions, before landing a decisive punch in the final furlong. He has good tactical speed but he was not extremely fast from the gates in America – it was therefore good to see him so sharp early in the Al Shimaal. He has clearly taken well to the straight track at Nad Al Sheba already and Diabolical holds a leading chance in the Golden Shaheen.
Impossible to split the Godolphin runner Diabolical and the North American Benny the Bull. The latter has a higher rating but Diabolical has the advantage of two previous runs over the straight track. In all probability, they will fill the first two places. Esperamos is a quick starter and open to improvement.
A: 5 DIABOLICAL, 10 BENNY THE BULL
C: 2 BARBECUE EDDIE, 6 ESPERAMOS, 14 IDIOT PROOF
5 Diabolical (7/2 Coral)
10 Benny the Bull (International pool probably best)
5 and 10 boxed / reversed
A: 5, 10 with 5, 10 with 2, 6, 14 (6)
B: 5, 10 with 2, 6, 14 with 5, 10 (6)
A: 5, 10 with 5, 10 with 2, 6, 14 with 2, 6, 14 (12)
A: 5, 10 with 5, 10 with 2, 6, 14 with 3, 4, 7, 9, 15 (30)
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