Dubai (March 22, 2021) – In 2020, Wildman Jack (USA) was riding high off an outstanding Dubai World Cup Carnival season, topped by a crushing of the 1200m turf track record in the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint.
Heading into last year’s course and distance Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint as one of the main contenders, the joy ride came to an abrupt halt when the Dubai World Cup was cancelled. Fast-forward through 12 months of pandemic pandemonium and the horse is back in the UAE with a second chance at a first Dubai World Cup night impression.
This time, the Doug O’Neill trainee arrives as a newly discovered multi-surface star, having dominated a key prep for the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News, the Grade 3 Palos Verdes at Santa Anita on the dirt.
Nine Palos Verdes winners have gone on to Dubai’s top dirt sprint, including winners Big Jag and Kinsale King, runner-ups Men’s Exclusive, Avanzado, Friendly Island and Euroears and third-place finisher Roy H.
“It’s so nice being back,” said Leandro Mora, longtime O’Neill assistant. “I love being back here and loved spending last winter here. It’s pure gold for us.
“We ran him two times on dirt back in the States and he won the last time and ran a really nice race, so that’s what made the decision to run here (in the Dubai Golden Shaheen in lieu of the Al Quoz Sprint).
“When he was training on dirt here (last year), we thought he could handle it really well because his workouts were sizzling fast.”
Despite being a keen horse, full of energy, the Glenn Sorgenstein-owned son of Goldencents is reportedly quite content being back in Dubai.
“Any horse who lands on the other side of the world who eats well, sleeps well and trains happy, that means the horse likes the environment,” Mora continued. “He’s a much better horse than last year when we brought him over here. He was a young horse last year and he has matured and now takes everything in stride. He’s about 50kgs heavier than he was last year.”
Post positions will be drawn on Wednesday for the 1200m dirt dash. A victory would give O’Neill his first Shaheen, but Leandro his second, as he was the assistant to Tim Pinfield when Big Jag won in 2000 with a spectacular performance at Nad Al Sheba. O’Neill won the 2007 Godolphin Mile with Spring At Last and has been second twice in this race, with the aforementioned Avanzado and champion American sprinter Thor’s Echo.
“Big Jag was an amazing horse and I love coming here for these races,” Mora explained. “I hope Jack runs well. He’s doing great and the post does not matter with him. He can be inside or outside.
“Like any Californian or American sprinter, we love to be outside, but I don’t think it will be a factor for him if he’s inside. I haven’t checked much about the competition, really, but you have to respect the winner of the local prep (Canvassed). Any horse who has runs that fast at Meydan is going to keep on running fast. That would be the one I would worry about. Otherwise, I think we have a very good chance with Wildman Jack.”
Dubai Racing Club Press Release
Photo: Wildman Jack, Neville Hopwood (Dubai Racing Club)