Godolphin Holds Strong Hand on Super Saturday at Meydan

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

March 7th, 2019

High-class racing action will kick off earlier than usual on Saturday thanks to a stakes-packed card at Meydan in that includes two Group 1 events.

Billed as “Super Saturday,” these races serve as major steppingstones toward the March 30 Dubai World Cup program, and several prominent runners aiming for big races three weeks from now will be in action.

First and foremost is Thunder Snow, who looms as a heavy favorite in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (UAE-I), the penultimate race on the card. Owned by Godolphin and trained by Saeed Bin Suroor, the five-year-old son of Helmet has been a sensation at Meydan with four wins and two seconds from six starts, including high-profile triumphs in the 2018 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) and the 2017 UAE Derby (UAE-II).
Thunder Snow hasn’t run since finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) four months ago and might need to get a race under his belt before returning to peak form, but he isn’t facing much on Saturday and might well prevail anyway. Gronkowski, runner-up behind Triple Crown winner Justify in the 2018 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), will be making his Dubai debut and will surely attract attention too, while Meydan veterans Cosmo Charlie and Furia Cruzada have proven capable of contending in big races on their best days.

Godolphin will also hold a strong hand in the final race on the card, the Jebel Hatta Stakes (UAE-I) going nine furlongs on turf. Dream Castle, Wootton, Loxley, and Blair House are all group stakes winners and First Contact has placed at the Group 2 level, so this quality quintet—which comprises half the field—should be difficult to beat. Dream Castle in particular looks like a top prospect after winning the Singspiel Stakes (UAE-III) and the Al Rashidiya Stakes (UAE-II) over this course and distance earlier this winter.

Racing fans with an eye toward the Kentucky Derby are advised to check out the 9.5-furlong Al Bastakiya Stakes. Fourteen three-year-olds with UAE Derby (and potentially Kentucky Derby) aspirations have been entered, with Godolphin’s Estihdaaf leading the charge. A son of Arch, Estihdaaf was a dominant winner of the UAE 2,000 Guineas (UAE-III) and will be a clear favorite in the wagering, though his female stablemate Divine Image did little wrong while winning the UAE Oaks (UAE-III) over this track and distance by a neck, and Manguzi beat Estihdaaf by half a length in the Al Bastakiya Trial back in January.

Godolphin’s riches don’t end with their runners in the Al Bastakiya Stakes. Old Persian, Spotify, and Racing History are the three favorites in the 12-furlong Dubai City of Gold Stakes (UAE-II), while the Group 1-winning sprinter Blue Point will be an odds-on choice to win the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (UAE-III). And while Comicas boasts no clear advantage in the Mahab Al Shimaal (UAE-III), he’s still among the main contenders and provides Godolphin with a chance to win six of the day’s seven races.

The only race in which Godolphin does not have a starter is the Burj Nahaar (UAE-III), in which 2018 Pennsylvania Derby (gr. I) runner-up Axelrod will make his Dubai debut against a quality field that includes the Firebreak Stakes (UAE-III) winner Muntazah and last year’s Godolphin Mile (UAE-II) victor Heavy Metal.

Be sure to get up early if you want to watch and wager on all the action! Post time for the first race of the day is 7:00 a.m. Eastern.