Kiaran McLaughlin does not expect Frosted to experience any difficulty on Meydan’s dirt surface when the US import makes his debut at Dubai in the second round of the Al Maktoum Challenge on Thursday.
The Godolphin colt will line up in the US$250,000 (Dh918,236) event alongside stablemate Elnaawi, both of whom will become the American handler’s first runners at Meydan.
Frosted, a four-year-old grey son of US sire Tapit, is the highest-rated horse in the 1,900-metre contest at 120, having won the Grade 1 Wood Memorial and Pennsylvania Derby last season.
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In between Frosted had to get used to seeing the short tail of American Pharoah power to victory in the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Stakes, the Travers Stakes and finally the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland in October.
McLaughlin last had a runner in Dubai when Albertus Maximus was sixth in the final Dubai World Cup staged at Nad Al Sheba in 2009, having previously saddled Invasor to an impressive victory in the world’s most valuable race in 2007.
Moon Ballad, African Story and Prince Bishop have all used the Al Maktoum Challenge to warm up for Dubai World Cup success.
Ultimately, McLaughlin intends to run Frosted in the $10m race on March 26, most likely against Mubtaahij, who will have his first start at Meydan since he won the UAE Derby last season in the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes.
McLaughlin left America to come to Dubai on Sunday after he had saddled Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid’s Mohaymen to win the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park to become the new Kentucky Derby favourite. He has yet to have his first sight of the UAE’s leading racecourse as his Dubai string is housed at Charlie Appleby’s Marmoom base.
“He has been training well and is right for this race,” McLaughlin said of Frosted. “I’d be disappointed if he lost and I hope he runs really well.
“He is lighter than last season, when he carried a lot of weight.
“I don’t see why he should not handle the dirt. It is why we have come out early, though. He still could run in the third round of the Al Maktoum Challenge on March 5, which is enough time before the World Cup.
“He has a strong constitution and tends to run better with training and racing.”
Previous experience of the Meydan dirt has proved crucial this season, but his class should see him prevail against his eight rivals.
That said, he may not have the race run to suit but jockey William Buick will have options from gate five.
The Al Maktoum Challenge has attracted seven other runners, including a whole host of horses who where behind Le Bernardin, who runs in the Firebreak Stakes, in the first round of the Maktoum Challenge on the opening night of the Carnival.
Layl, Prayer For Relief, Faulkner, Surfer, Special Fighter and Gold City all chased home Le Bernardin, and none of them are known for setting the pace.
“Frosted is best when he is stalking and tracking the pace,” McLaughlin said. “We’re not sure he will get a lead from a horse in this race, and if we do it might not be fast enough.”
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