x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Plan to get Regally Ready up to speed

Prep race is needed in Saturday's Meydan race but handler Asmussen promises a 'special' effort on World Cup night.

Regally Ready had a smooth journey to Dubai, and he will run in the Meydan Sprint.
Regally Ready had a smooth journey to Dubai, and he will run in the Meydan Sprint.

North America's fastest turf sprinter will be gracing Meydan Racecourse this weekend, with Frankie Dettori set to partner Regally Ready in the Meydan Sprint on Saturday.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, who won the Dubai World Cup with Curlin in 2008, last year's Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner will line-up against 14 rivals in the 1,000 metre contest.

Regally Ready arrived in Dubai last Tuesday and had a sighter of the racecourse two days later under the guidance of Devron Leingang, Asmussen's assistant.

Despite being the highest rated thoroughbred in the US$175,000 (Dh642,792) race, Asmussen warned that his speedster would need the outing ahead of a run in Al Quoz Sprint on March 31. "It was a real smooth journey – only 22 hours stable to stable," Asmussen said from America. "He's eaten up well since he got there and his energy levels are good.

"It will be a lot for him to take in on Saturday, with the shipping and the stabling as well and he notices a lot of things. We thought it important to give him a prep race and he'll need it as he is a cautious kind of horse."

Regally Ready's main asset is his mid-race burst of acceleration but in January he was involved in a brutal duel for the lead in his first race since putting America's finest turf sprinters to the sword at Churchill Downs in November.

In the Group 3 Daytona Stakes, Regally Ready and Mr Gruff sped through the early sections of the 1,300m race but both faded in the final 100m to be beaten into joint third. It was a race in which Regally Ready finished third 12 months previously, however, before embarking on a season that included a victory in the Grade 1 Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine in Canada.

Asmussen was unconcerned at the defeat, therefore, and said that come World Cup night racegoers at Meydan Racecourse could witness something special. "Few horses can live with him," Asmussen said.

"When he runs over six and a half furlongs it takes him away from what he is best at. He travels so easily with fast horses, he has such incredible speed.

"I wouldn't say he breaks well, and there are usually a few horses in front of him early but his middle fractions are just so fast and he gets to the finish so much easier than they do."

Last year Asmussen became the youngest trainer to saddle 6,000 winners and the 46 year old broke the North American record in 2009 with 650 wins.

Curlin's victory in the world's richest race contributed significantly to Asmussen's career haul of purses, which is now approaching $200 million (Dh734.6m). Not surprisingly, the trainer is looking forward to having his first runner in Dubai for four years.

"It was such a whirlwind event for me, and for my family," he said of Curlin's victory. "It's not like winning a race in America because the circumstances are just so different. I have watched the DVD and what struck me was that I was just so fortunate to participate in an event like that.

"You never dream of being lucky enough for that to happen to you. It is an event that is so difficult to explain to people and chose the right words but it is just so spectacular."

sports@thenational.ae