Dubai Carnival Update: Lovely Pass Runs for Classic Double, ‘Prince’ Tops Meydan Classic

By Michele MacDonald

      Lovely Pass, a filly from the first crop of Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Raven’s Pass, will go to the gate  on the February 28 Dubai World Cup Carnival program seeking her second classic triumph at Meydan as she tops a field of nine in the $250,000 UAE Oaks (G3).

Lovely Pass taking the 1000 Guineas. Copyright Andrew Watkins

A rallying winner of the UAE 1000 Guineas over 1600 meters (about one mile) on February 7, Lovely Pass will be asked to run an extra 300 meters in the Oaks as she tries 1900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles) for the first time in her second race on the all-weather track.

That extra distance is a question mark in the mind of her trainer, Godolphin’s Mahmoud Al Zarooni.

“I can see a little bit of improvement in Lovely Pass since she won the Guineas and I was pleased with her latest piece of work. My concern with her is the step up to 9 1/2 furlongs, but we won’t know whether she stays the distance until we run her,” Zarooni said.

Lovely Pass is the 2-1 favorite on the morning line and will start from the rail. She will be ridden by Kieren Fallon as her Guineas partner, Ahmad Ajtebi, is serving a suspension.

Godolphin has three fillies entered in the Oaks, and Zarooni’s go-to jockey, Mickael Barzalona, has been assigned again to Music Chart, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Exchange Rate. While Music Chart has been defeated by Lovely Pass in both their previous meetings, she gets a positive nod from Zarooni.

“I think that Music Chart has the chance to beat Lovely Pass this time over this trip. She ran well in the Guineas and I hope that this step up in distance can see her run well,” he said.

Music Chart, who drew post four, won the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial, an allowance on January 17, and finished third in the Guineas, with Godolphin’s third Oaks entrant, Shuruq, finishing second in that classic. Music Chart is 5-1 on the morning line.

Shuruq, a Kentucky-bred by Elusive Quality who also was second in the Guineas trial, finished strongly in the Guineas and has earned praise from trainer Saeed bin Suroor, who has saddled seven winners in 12 runnings of the Oaks.

“Shuruq has run well to finish second on both her starts this year and she is in good form. The step up in distance will suit her and she is a tough filly who tries very hard all of the time. She is in good form and I am hopeful of another good effort,” bin Suroor said.

Paul Hanagan takes the reins on Shuruq, who is rated a 7-2 chance, as her former rider, Carnival leading jockey Silvestre De Sousa, also is serving a suspension for riding infractions.

All nine fillies in the Oaks also raced in the Guineas. One who could show improvement is the only Southern Hemisphere-bred in the race, Emotif, a daughter of Giant’s Causeway bred in Argentina and racing for trainer Mike de Kock, who is tied with bin Suroor and Zarooni for the lead among Carnival conditioners with nine wins.

A strong winner in South Africa on her debut, Emotif had some problems in the long travel and quarantine process during the transition to Dubai. She finished fifth in the Guineas in her first start in more than eight months.

“She is still short of full fitness,” said de Kock. “She was a month behind our other horses having been very ill and missing a lot of work. She is fitter now and will stay the trip no problem, but she will again improve from this run.”

Under conditions of the Oaks, Emotif will carry 131 pounds and give ten pounds to her younger, Northern Hemisphere-bred rivals.

In the co-feature on the program, well-traveled English stakes winner Deauville Prince is the class of the $150,000 Meydan Classic for three-year-olds at 1600 meters on turf. The Holy Roman Emperor colt finished fourth in the Guineas in his Dubai and all-weather track debut and switches back to turf, a surface on which he finished a good fourth in a Group 1 juvenile contest in Italy in addition to winning the Ripon Champion Two-Year-Old Trophy Stakes.

Trained by Tom Dascombe, Deauville Prince is 6-1 on the morning line and will start from post seven in the eight-horse field with Richard Kingscote in the irons.

Elleval, who rallied to win a 1400-meter (about seven-furlong) Carnival turf contest on February 7 for trainer David Marnane, is the 2-1 early choice in the Meydan Classic. The Irish-bred Kodiac gelding is reunited with regular rider Fergal Lynch and breaks from post three.

The six-race Carnival program begins at 9:45 a.m. EST. Post time for the UAE Oaks, the fifth race on the card, is 12:05 p.m.

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Rich Nilsen is an 18-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. Rich was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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