Al Quoz Sprint Preview: Horse-by-Horse Analysis of Saturday's Group I Race @Meydan

One of the highlight events of the Dubai World Cup Night is the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on the grass. Check out who is in for the race that blazes down the lane!
One of the highlight events of the Dubai World Cup Night is the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on the grass. Check out who is in for the race that blazes down the lane!

6F (Turf), Al Quoz Sprint, Purse $1 Million, 3+

The Al Quoz Sprint has ranged over the years from a Group 3 to now as a Group 1 race. It offers the best exhibition of speed and power on the "Racing Carnival" card this Saturday at Meydan. North American runners who enter find a much different sprint format in that it is a European-style straight course all the way to the wire. Even though no U.S.-based entries have won this contest, they have acquitted themselves well when it comes to the minor awards. Names like Green Mask, Long On Value, Stormy Liberal, and Belvoir Bay resonate. Who will be the “King of Speed” on the grass this year? In a race like this… it is anybody’s game!

Let’s find out about this field…


#1 Equilateral (Jky: F. Dettori/Trn: C. Hills):

Frankie Dettori normally rides fast horses, and he is aboard this Charlie Hills speedster in here. This son of Equiano (FR) knows this sprint course well, having run on it many times. That has yielded a successful record, and there is no doubt he will be one of the favorites in here. Last summer, at Royal Ascot’s fan-less Meet, he was 2nd in the King’s Stand, which is always a loaded affair. Having won both preps for the Al Quoz @MEY, he looks well-spotted for a score. The head-to-head match with Appleby’s Space Blues is going to be something.

Grade: A-


#2 Extravagant Kid (Jky: R. Moore/Trn: B. Walsh):

Here is one of those American sprinters that comes to Dubai to race against the best in the world. This race might not actually be that this time around, but it still has a major favorite in Space Blues who will take the majority of the “Win” money. That offers Brendan Walsh’s son of Kiss The Kid the opportunity to play spoiler. I have liked this runner since last year at Keeneland, but he always seemed to come up short down the lane. I think his gate-work needs to improve in here, especially since this is a straight course. This 8-yr-old has never won a “G” race, even though he has run in plenty of them. That is mildly concerning. With the addition of super jock Ryan Moore, maybe he can spring an upset and get this one home. Outside chance to hit the board is my sense…

Grade: C+


#3 Khaadem (Jky: J. Crowley/Trn: C. Hills):

The other Charlie Hills entry is quite the opposite of his other one; when it comes to recent form, this son of the great Dark Angel (IRE) is extremely short on it. That is a major concerning since he has not entered a race since last summer at Newmarket. I have no idea how fit he will be as a 5-yr-old, having never run anywhere outside the UK. Last year, he had a number of misses in Group 1 sprints, which is not very reassuring when it comes to challenging this lot. Way more to do…

Grade: C-


#4 Man of Promise (Jky: R. Mullen/Trn: C. Appleby):

Clearly the lesser of the 3 Appleby entries, this son of powerful American sire, Into Mischief is a Godolphin-owned sprinter who, for once, was not bred at home. As a 3-yr-old, he acquitted himself well in lower-level company in the UK before taking the winter off. Heading into the Meydan Meet, he won the Dubai Sprint first out, but then took a step back, finishing 8th in the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (G3) to Final Song, who is drawn here. It is hard to believe that this runner can match up with his stablemate, Space Blues. This is a “Boy in Blue” who will be looking at the other one from behind… a promise.  

Grade: C-


#5 Moss Gill (Jky: D. Tudhope/Trn: E. Bethell):

There are a handful of top turf sires in Europe that are producing the next generation of sprinters and routers. No Nay Never is one of them. If you ever saw him run for Wesley Ward back in 2013, you knew then that he had an excellent shot to become the progenitor of some sodbusters. Whether the Bethell Barn has this son of “No Nay” primed for a score in this spot remains to be seen, but at least he got a freshening back at Lingfield in late February. He did not win that contest, and maybe that was not the purpose. Getting on the plane to Dubai, and drawing here is going to be a task once the race begins. Winning some “BTs” in York is not like running in this one. More will be needed, even if his sire was No Nay Never.

Grade: C+


#6 Motafaawit (Jky: P. Dobbs/Trn: D. Watson):

Doug Watson has made a name for himself at Meydan training some good runners, and he certainly knows the ramifications if he can score in this race. He has this quality sprinter going in the Al Quoz who finished 2nd to Final Song in the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (G3) last out. This son of Intikhab looks to be in fine form with those 2 races under his belt at Meydan. His entry in the race will have special significance on Saturday, especially since his owner, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, sadly passed away on Wednesday. As the deputy leader of Dubai under Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the hereditary ruler of the city-state who also serves as prime minister and vice president of the UAE, he was also his brother. An astute politician and statesman for his country, he was also an influential horseman, founding the powerful Shadwell Stable back in the early 1980s. His legacy will live on, and a win in the Al Quoz certainly would be bittersweet.

Grade: B


#7 Royal Crusade (Jky: M. Barzalona/Trn: C. Appleby)

Here is the 2nd Appleby runner of 3 that is a colt out of Shamardal. This one is a Godolphin homebred, and a glance through his PPs makes one think that he can do this. Though he is lightly-raced, he did have a try in that Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (G3). The result was not up to scratch with a 6th Place finish, but that was a big ask from his conditioner. He will be much fitter this time around. The questions is… can he legitimately make the jump into Group 1 company? If he can, he might qualify as a higher-priced contender, especially when placed along his stable and gate mate in this race—Space Blues.

Grade: B-


#8 Space Blues (Jky: W. Buick/Trn: C. Appleby):

Ironically, and this happens in horse racing as it does in life, the last time Space Blues lost was last year in the 2020 edition of the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (G3)—7th. That was just before COVID-19 shuttered the world. Once June arrived, this Appleby ace went on a tear, and rattled off 5 straight wins, including a score last out in Riyadh on Saudi Cup Day. He is blazing fast, and to say he is “in form” would be a massive understatement. If he is sharp on Saturday, there is nobody in this field that can best him. Taillights for everyone else, as William Buick, one of the world’s hottest jockeys, takes this one home. Can anyone beat him? Let’s hear it…

Grade: A


#9 Speak In Colours (Jky: D. Egan/Trn: J. O’Brien):

Joseph O’Brien’s transition from jockey at his Dad’s Ballydoyle to successful conditioner in his own right, is continuing apace. After a Breeders’ Cup win and major scores in Europe, his star continues to rise. His shipping into this spot is reflective of his growing global reach. This entry has some spark, especially when you look back at his travels. Rarely, over these past few years has he missed the board completely. If you take out 2 tries against Group 1 Co. at Ascot last year, then there are some performances that make the barn proud. That bodes well shipping into this spot, and it garners him the moniker of “wise guy” status. Jockey David Egan is young and inexperienced compared to other riders that are in this race, but he showed at the Saudi Cup just how good he can be. He and O’Brien make a lethal combination, and it is a pleasure to see the future of Irish racing in such talented hands. Much promise to come…

Grade: B+


#10 True Valour (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: G. Motion):

Trainer Graham Motion knows Dubai and the Meydan Racecourse having won the DWC with Animal Kingdom a decade ago. He knows shipping, and what members of his stable can do. This entry, who most recently spent time in American sprinting on the grass first for John Murtagh, then Simon Callaghan, before coming to Herringswell for Motion, was originally one of those Euros who started his career in the UK-IRE. The decision to shorten him up and sprint on the turf is not normally Motion’s wheelhouse, but ever since running at Pimlico in the Dinner Party S. (G2), it seems to be working. How good he can be in this spot is dependent on a X-Factor—jockey Joel Rosario. Wily and at times unpredictable, as a rider he can have dashes of brilliance against long odds. He knows something of Meydan’s lawn, and he was Long On Value’s regular saddle-man when that horse took to the stage in Dubai. Don’t count out Motion either because this one will be a great price when post time comes around.

Grade: B


#11 Final Song (Jky: C. Soumillon/Trn: S. Suroor):

Saeed Bin Suroor is one of the trainers of choice when it comes to Meydan Racecourse. He is bringing a filly into the mix here that is looking to upset the boys. She is talented, and after a nice win in the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (G3) where she bested many that are entered here, you have to think she has a chance to take on Space Blues. Certainly, she is going to need her best fastball, especially against the Appleby Trio. If anybody can do it, it is Christophe Soumillon, whose riding is getting better and better after a tough time through COVID-19. I like the trio that make up these connections. She is one to watch!

Grade: B+


#12 Acklam Express (Jky: R. Scott/Trn: N. Tinkler):

This son of Mehmas looks to be a proverbial “Best Man,” instead of the Groom, when it comes to his short career. He is still looking to break his maiden for the Tinkler Barn, and I am wondering how he is going to do that… This is a much stronger field than when he was 3rd behind Final Song last time in the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (G3). This is going to take a massive effort, and as one of the youngest entrants in this race, I am afraid his inexperience is going to show,

Grade: C-


#13 Cowan (Jky: L. Saez/Trn: S. Asmussen):

Last, but certainly not least in this field is a Steve Asmussen runner with major experience already as he enters his 3-yr-old career. You wouldn’t know it looking through his form. I like everything about this horse because he seems extremely versatile not only in his running style, but his ability to ship. Back in the States he was incredibly consistent running against names like Outadore, Bodeheimer, Golden Pal, Senor Buscador, Caddo River, and Pink Kamehameha. That last combatant was unbelievable in the Saudi Derby (1-turn mile on dirt), but Asmussen’s Kantharos colt was not too bad either, as he rolled from well-off the pace. The last 200m were a clinic in late speed. I would wager, if he had another 20, he could have had it. Shortening up in this spot on the grass is not that outlandish, and I am buoyed in that statement by the fact that jockey Luis Saez has the mount. That is welcome news because he is one of the hottest riders in the States. Now, that the North American pools have been merged into the international ones, it will be really interesting to see where this one lands on the tote. I am thinking 25/1… agree?

Grade: A-


Join us Saturday for all of our DWC selections! Should be a great set of races from Meydan in the UAE!