Saudi Crown, Bold Journey On To Dubai, Skelly Back To The States

Saudi Crown | Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia


Trainer Brad Cox confirmed that FMQ Stables' Saudi Crown (Always Dreaming), a brave third in the G1 Saudi Cup after setting bruising fractions up front, has shipped to Dubai and has settled in at Meydan Raceourse. The $45,000 Keeneland January short-yearling turned $240,000 OBS April breezer holds an entry for the G1 Dubai World Cup, where he would face a rematch with the two horses that finished ahead of him last weekend–Senor Buscador (Mineshaft) and Ushba Tesoro (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}). But Cox aid that the tentatively target is the Mar. 30 G2 Godolphin Mile.

“We were very proud of his effort and he came out of the race in good order,” trainer Brad Cox said by phone Monday. “So we packed him up, he landed safely in Dubai, and we are leaning towards the Godolphin Mile.”

The grey colt saw out nine furlongs well enough to take out last year's GI Pennsylvania Derby, and although well-beaten in the GI Breeders' Cup Classic, rebounded with a strong victory in the GIII Louisiana S. to punch his ticket to Riyadh. Hard-sent to the lead in the Saudi Cup, Saudi Crown covered the opening 800 meters in :46.01–with no run-up–and held on stubbornly to be right in the finish. But it will be less distance and not more on Mar. 30.

“When you're running against the best horses in the world,” Cox said, “we think that the answer to that question is to run him over a mile.”

Among the horses he could face is defending champion Isolate (Mark Valeski), a meritorious sixth in the Saudi Cup.




As a result of his outstanding third-place effort behind Japan's Remake (Jpn) (Lani) and top American sprinter Skelly (Practical Joke) in Saturday's G3 Riyadh Dirt Sprint, Pantofel Stable, Adam Wachtel and Gary Barber's Bold Journey (Hard Spun) has been invited to run in the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen Mar. 30. The 5-year-old arrived in the Emirates in good order Monday, Wachtel said.

“He came out of the race in good order, little bit scraped up, there was a little collision there at the gate, but nothing at all serious,” Wachtel said of the Bill Mott trainee.

The New York-bred, who was briefly on the Triple Crown trail in 2022, has found his best form over six furlongs, and won three straight in the Big Apple in late fall and early winter, including the GIII Fall Highweight H. Nov. 24 and the Dec. 30 Gravesend S. He settled well back in the run in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint, as Skelly locked horns with the top Saudi-based sprinter Rebellious Stage (Justify), but came with a solid rally nearer the inside to fill third spot, beaten three lengths for all of it.

“We thought if he performed well he might get an invite and that it might make some sense for a couple of reasons: we are already kind of there and we established that he is a serious sprinter,” Wachtel said. “I feel like he's improving and he did us very proud and I think he earned the right to run in a race like [the Golden Shaheen].”

Wachtel is looking forward to the opportunity, even if pre-existing commitments will mean he will be in abstentia.

Bold Journey and Saudi Crown galloping in Riyadh | Horsephotos

“We're pretty excited about it, he seems to be turning into the horse we'd hoped he would,” Wachtel said. “I don't know if he's good enough to do what he just did in Dubai, but we think it's a great move. I hope that at the end of the year, we're in the conversation as one of the best sprinters in the country.  Hopefully he'll take to Dubai as he did to Saudi Arabia and he'll come running down the lane.”

The Wachtel part-owned and Mott-conditioned Long On Value (Value Plus) missed by a zop in the 2017 G1 Al Quoz Sprint, while Gray Magician (Graydar), also campaigned by Wachtel in partnership, completed a U.S.-bred 1-2 behind Plus Que Parfait (Point of Entry) in the 2019 G2 UAE Derby.

Skelly, a game second after making the running last Saturday, is booked on a Chicago-bound flight this coming Thursday and will therefore pass on the Golden Shaheen, trainer Steve Asmussen said Monday.

“I thought he gave it a great effort. We want to get him back in a winning spot and there is a valuable spot at Oaklawn to do just that,” Asmussen said, likely referring to the $500,000 GIII Count Fleet Sprint H. Apr. 13. “We were very proud of his effort, but we thought it was very important to get him back winning and he's won seven in a row at Oaklawn. If he had won, we would probably have gone on, but he didn't, so we'll bring him back home.”

Asmussen indicated that the same two-race sequence in the Middle East in a strong possibility for 2025.

Among those also returning to the states are Saudi Cup fourth National Treasure (Quality Road) to point for a summer campaign; narrow Saudi Derby runner-up Book'em Danno (Bucchero), who is reportedly headed to the $600,000 GII Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 4; and White Abarrio (Race Day), 10th in the Saudi Cup who has a repeat in the GI Whitney S. as a long-term objective.

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