A classy field of fourteen going a mile and a sixteenth over the lush Dubai turf course. Let’s meet the starters in qualifying order.
The top qualifier belongs to Given. Dan has operated one of the game’s most successful stables since before he became the play-by-play voice of the Missouri River Otters hockey team. His Naples Lane (6-1) was always meant to be a great one being by Malibu Moon out of Equinics and Breeders’ Bowl champion Wister Road. The latter is a daughter of stakes winning graded placed The Long Summer. Naples Lane won The Cobbler Mile (G-1) last May in a blazing 1:33.06 (SP 121) and has been knocking at the door looking for a second Grade 1 victory ever since. Two seconds and two third place finishes later, he’s still searching for it. The fact that he blew a huge lead and was run down by the eminently forgettable Mohinder Suresh in his allowance prep may not bode well for success in the Fee Duty. Drawn perfectly on the hedge for this tilt, look for the big bay to be dictating terms and taking no prisoners for as long and as far as he can. Capable but iffy.
In stark contrast to Naples Lane, Dubai Cadet absolutely crushed an allowance field in his Fee Duty prep. The blue-blooded son of Dubawi is based on superstar he-mare Cape Cadet. All that one did is earn five million dollars and win the Fee Duty in 2015. Robby’s home bred likes to sit back early then close with a powerful rush. Those tactics have worked well in half of his career starts including last year’s G-1 French 2000 Guineas. All systems go.
Haack’s Arrogate won this event last year in a brisk 1:40.08 (SP 120). The rangy bay comes from a family of extremely successful Haack racers. His G-1 winning he-mare earned over 2.6 million dollars. That one’s he-mare also made over 2.6 mil and finished 2nd in the 2010 Fee Duty. Following a sharp 2nd in the G-1 King Kong Mile, the son of Arrogate prepped for this with a closing 2nd in an allowance race. Although he hasn’t won since last year’s Fee Duty, this guy had one heck of a run in 2018 and early 2019 winning the Equinics Mile, 2000 Guineas, King Kong Mile and Fee Duty. I must say, in all my years of covering races for the BTB and its predecessor, the Sim Racing Form, I’ve never seen a race where each of the top three qualifiers were coming out of allowance races. A new trend?
Multiple graded winner Mowbray exits the G-3 Road Rash on a winning note. The big gray son of Super Saver and Kings Meadows (Dylan Thomas) covered the grassy nine panels in a blazing 1:46.39 (SP 119). Liam’s speedster prefers to be on or near the lead. Those tactics worked well last time out and also in the G-1 Eddie O in 2019 when he ran down fellow speedster Naples Lane. Cocked, locked and ready to rock.
5-1 favorite Galileo’s Moons has a pedigree which suggests he might be a late bloomer. Redhill decided to take a chance and plunked down $125,000 to snatch him out of a maiden claimer and has never regretted it for a second. G M has won three straight graded races, including a G-1 two back, and hasn’t tasted defeat since last August. His last two victories have both resulted in Twilight Zone speed figures of 124. Should he threepeat that number, you’ll once again find him in the winners circle afterward. But beware the big bounce.
Next in line comes impeccably bred Tommy Malibu (Malibu Moon x Danzig x Nijinsky II) from the stable of URC stalwart Massatoga. The family specializes in winning Grade 2 races. Tommy Malibu was won a pair and his dam’s claim to fame is winning the G-2 Black Betty two years apart (2006, 2008) at the now defunct North Florida oval. T M has seen his speed figures decline in each of his last 4 starts. Although the dip has not been precipitous, the trend needs to be reversed in a hurry if he is to threaten this bunch. Tune in Saturday at 3:00 EDT to see what happens.
Well respected at 9-1 is another contender who likes being up front. Iff You Please went gate to wire two back in the G-3 Honery Queen’s Plate posting a 120 speed number. Last time out the son of Iffraaj annexed the G-2 What The Who from just off the pace. LBailey may instruct the rider to back off a bit Saturday with so much dedicated speed signed on. Either way, Iff You Please is as legit as they come.
Close but no cigar could be the motto of our next starter. Furious Yankee (Giant’s Causeway) has lost four G-1 events by a length or less. Among his heartbreaking defeats was a photo loss to Haack’s Arrogate in the 2019 edition of the Fee Duty. Latekick is an excellent conditioner and yet another trainer who opted to prep his charge with an allowance race. Furious Yankee easily dispatched his foes in that event and appears to be ready for a big effort.
Bummer of a Summer is the elder statesman among our entrants. Mtk has managed to keep the six year old gelded son of Darci Brahma and his Hall of Fame mare Cruel Summer (Storm Cat x Mr. Prospector) performing at a high level for a long time. Problem is it will likely take a 120 range speed figure to win. Bummer consistently runs 110 to 116 and has done so since late 2018. He’ll need to ramp it up to contend here. Something like the 122 he popped winning the G-1 de Caprio in 2018 would play well.
Kingdamo sends out his Holy Cornholio for this test. The handsome gray son of More Than Ready started his career like a house afire. He won six of his first seven starts culminating in a win in the G-2 Penn Mile. It has been tough sledding since then. Did come close two back finishing a close up third in a New Zealand G-1. Needs more to contend here.
Fionia King is conditioned by popular chat room regular Kimugle. The son of Pivotal has been training here since his second place finish in a G-2 mile in February. In that race Fionia King tried to go wire-to-wire but was run down late by the much improved and well intended We Look Hard. Perhaps a return to the stalk and pounce tactics which produced a win in a New Zealand G-2 three back would prove more effective. Good luck, Kim!
Cool Ocean Breeze (Ocean Park) is arguably the least accomplished of the fourteen starters. His biggest win was a G-3 seven races ago. Trainer / breeder Egyptianwolfman tends to race his stock rather conservatively. But C O B has turned tiger since being gelded. The 120 speed figure that the son of Long Cool Woman (King Mambo x Danzig) tossed in winning a listed stake at this exact distance last time out punched his ticket to Dubai.
Shady Ray is one of five graded winners from his dam Grand Entry. Trainer Chilimac named Grand Entry’s 2019 Dubawi colt after me, Shady Bonus. OK, I made that part up. But Chili and I have been knocking heads for the better part of two decades so it could be true. Shady Ray has been having problems lately. Two back he finished 14th in a G-1 which earned him a trip to the vet (gelding) and a few months off. Hasn’t helped yet. First start back after the procedure was equally dismal. Nice horse, nice family, nice trainer. Bad spot.
Last but not least is Stockswami’s 5 year old, Encosta de Raven. Similarly to Shady Ray, we have a very nice horse who is in very poor form. Since capturing the G-2 Euro Grand Prix with a healthy 117 speed rating four back, the Raven’s Pass front runner has been flashing his usual sharp speed but lacking his usual stamina. Certain to be a pace factor with his very good turn of early foot. Not likely to be around for the finish.