Sibelius Preps For Golden Shaheen Defense At Palm Meadows

Sibelius | SV Photography

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Jun Park and Delia Nash's Sibelius (Not This Time) breezed a half-mile in an easy :49 flat at Palm Meadows the morning of Mar. 5 as he builds up to a defense of his title in the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan Racecourse Mar. 30.

Trainer Jeremiah O'Dwyer was in the irons for the move aboard the 6-year-old, who–like last year–enters the Golden Shaheen after winning the GIII Mr. Prospector S. at Gulfstream Dec. 23 and the Feb. 10 Pelican S. at Tampa Bay Downs.

“He went very well and he did everything we were looking for,” the conditioner said. “He did a nice half in :49 with a nice gallop out. The track was in good condition after getting some rain the day before. He breezed very nicely and we're very pleased.”

After just outbattling 2022 Golden Shaheen hero Switzerland (Speightstown) and Gunite (Gun Runner) last March, Sibelius failed to shine in three subsequent appearances before bouncing back to his best form this winter.

“It might be this time of year, it might be that the trip over there took a little bit more out of him than we anticipated,” O'Dwyer offered when asked about the gelding's turnaround. “There are so many variables and factors, it's really hard to pinpoint it.”

Junior Alvarado rode Sibelius to his neck success in the Pelican, but O'Dwyer has once again enlisted the services of Ryan Moore for this year's Golden Shaheen.

“Ryan brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table,” O'Dwyer said. “He leaves no stone unturned, he knows every horse he rides inside and out. He can relate to the trainer and the horse very well. As a friend of mine told me once, I don't think there's a horse that hasn't been born yet that Ryan Moore doesn't suit.”

And how does the 2024 version of Sibelius compare with the one of 12 months back?

“I think he's very similar, I think he's equally as good to how he was this time last year,” O'Dwyer said. “Even Junior Alvarado, he breezed him before he went to Tampa and that's exactly what he said. He said, 'I don't know that he's better than he was last year, but he's just as good.'

“That gives us some confidence. I ride the horse a fair bit myself and I know he's doing great. He's a 6-year-old, he's good and strong. We're in a very good place with him and looking forward to going out to Dubai again. He really seemed to thrive out there, so hopefully he can run his race again this year.”

O'Dwyer has penciled in one more half-mile breeze 'in eight or nine days' time.' Sibelius ships to the desert Mar. 19 and his trainer departs three days later.

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