x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Asiatic Boy gets another shot at the US

Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa's Asiatic Boy gets his third US start next Saturday when he takes on Horse of the Year contender, Rachel Alexandra, in the US$750,000 (Dh2.75m) Grade One Woodward Stakes.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa's Asiatic Boy gets his third US start next Saturday when he takes on Horse of the Year contender, Rachel Alexandra, in the US$750,000 (Dh2.75m) Grade One Woodward Stakes. The former Mike de Kock charge, who won the UAE Derby in 2007 and was second to Curlin in the 2008 Dubai World Cup, was disappointing in last season's renewal, coming home a lacklustre 12th, 33 lengths behind winner, Well Armed. Sheikh Mohammed sent the Argentinian-bred six-year-old to Kiaran McLaughlin to see how the son of Not For Sale handles conditions Stateside. Finishing runner up in both the big Stephen Foster and Suburban handicaps indicated he is comfortable on American dirt though yet to score his first victory. He was scratched from the Whitney Handicap, perhaps his best shot so far, in early August with a fever and McLaughlin immediately identified the Woodward as his next port of call. "We liked a our chances" said McLaughlin. "But you can't control them getting sick. It's frustrating and disappointing, but we have to worry about the things that are in our control." It is decidedly not in McLaughlin's control which horses provide the foil for his charge's tilt at a maiden US victory either and he shuddered when Rachel Alexandra, now trained and owned by the Steve Asmussen and Jess Jackson team responsible for Curlin's success, supplemented the outstanding filly. Rachel Alexandra is unbeaten in eight starts, has dominated the three-year-old fillies in the Kentucky Oaks and Mother Goose and beat the three-year-old boys in the Preakness Stakes and the Haskell Invitational. She takes on the only category left to subdue next week ? the older generation ? in a race never before won by a filly. "Legacy," said Asmussen. "Jess's sportsmanship about what they can do is quite obvious. No filly has won the Woodward. For everything else that she's done I think it's the showcase or the platform that she's worthy of." McLaughlin, meanwhile, is understandably wary. "I don't like it," he said. "She is a great filly, not just a good filly or a nice filly or whatever adjective you want to use. "You hate to have to run against her but our options are limited because we missed the last one." On the other side of the Atlantic, Kieren Fallon is getting closer to his comeback following an 18-month ban imposed for testing positive to a prohibited substance. The controversial six-time champion is expected in the saddle by September 4 and has been tipped to ride Mick Channon's Group One runner, Youmzain, in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and Luca Cumani's 1,000 Guineas favourite, Seta, at Doncaster's St Leger meeting.

stregoning@thenational.ae