The growing empire of Phoenix Thoroughbreds with its subsidiary Phoenix Ladies' Syndicate is primed to bring the action back home to its Dubai base of operations for the 2019-20 UAE racing season—starting with opening day at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday, October 24.
"This year we have 45 horses in training in Dubai and more will be coming for the Carnival," said Amer Abdulaziz, founder and CEO of the DIFC-based Phoenix Thoroughbreds. "We are looking forward to promoting racing in Dubai and the region, which has always been our goal. We feel like it's part of our job to attract horses and owners from all over the world to experience the racing here. The prize money is great and the big events here, in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are great for racing."
Over the same racecourse that Phoenix Thoroughbreds experienced a bittersweet nose loss with Gronkowski (pictured above) in the $12 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline in March, the two-fold operation will kick the action off in the first race of the season with well-regarded, unraced 2-year-old Mambo Mischief, a son of outstanding American stud Into Mischief purchased for $150,000 at the OBS April sale in Florida. The fun will not stop there for the team, as a few more exciting juveniles are preparing to run, including blueblood Crseven, who is named after the world's most famous athlete.
"I had a chat with (trainer Ahmad bin Harmash) and he really likes how Mambo Mischief is training," said Amer Abdulaziz, founder and CEO of Phoenix Thoroughbreds. "He's by Into Mischief, so we have high expectations. He breezed really well, in nine seconds (for 200m), and he's one of a few 2-year-olds we brought here, but we really think they're quality horses.
"Crseven (pronounced 'C.R. Seven') is named after Cristiano Ronaldo and is an American Pharoah out of a full-sister to Quality Road," he continued. "We really like him and obviously his pedigree is world-class. We have another by First Samurai and another by Tiznow. We also brought a Group 3 winner from Argentina, so the Phoenix Ladies will have a good year, with 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds to watch race in Dubai."
Carrying the predominately white silks of Phoenix Thoroughbreds on Thursday will be Salem bin Ghadayer-trained Jafar, an unraced former Bob Baffert trainee, and Luxor Temple, who has yet to find his stride in eight starts for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi. Competing in the same 1900m older-horse maiden will be Phoenix Ladies' Endless Gold, a 5-year-old gelded son of Dubawi who has finished second in four of his last five starts for previous trainer Charlie Appleby.
"Jafar is a beautiful horse who has a top-quality pedigree and cost a lot of money, but unfortunately didn't run for Bob when he was with him in the U.S.," Abdulaziz said of the son of Medaglia d'Oro. "He wasn't right and we didn't rush him. He will be running for the first time, but he did well in the trial the other day. He's sound and one to look forward to."
Looking forward even more, one of the aforementioned 4-year-olds-to-be is Phoenix Ladies' UAE 2000 Guineas Trial winner Walking Thunder (pictured above), who will have big goals in 2020. The son of Violence was a dominant winner of that event, as well as the same opening day maiden Mambo Mischief will contest one year later on Thursday.
"We will point to the (Group 2 $350,000 Al) Maktoum Challenge Round 1 in January (9th) with him," Abdulaziz said. "We hope to get him to the (Group 2 $1.5 million) Godolphin Mile and run at Meydan during the Carnival. You'll see a different horse this season. He looks awesome and is working really well right now. We aren't rushing him and he won't race until January, but we are excited."
Dubai World Cup- and Belmont Stakes-placed Gronkowski and Grade 1-placed Axelrod (pictured below), who was ninth last out in the Dubai World Cup, are expected to return sooner.
"Gronkowski and Axelrod will look to run in December at Meydan," he said. "Gronkowski will probably run in (The Entisar) over a mile and a quarter and Axelrod will point to the (Dubai Creek Mile) over a mile. Salem has an unbelievable training centre and they've been training lightly and are in great condition. Both have put weight on and keeping them in Dubai has helped them acclimatize to get ready for the season. The trainer is really impressed with them, especially with Gronkowski, and it's very positive."
Both The Entisar (December 5) and Dubai Creek Mile (December 19) are Listed affairs carrying approximately $72,000 in prize money.
Among those expected to join Phoenix's currently local contingent for the DWC Carnival is Phoenix Ladies' Forever In Dreams , who has been a revelation since being purchased earlier this season, placing in two Group 1s, including the Commonwealth Cup and British Champions Sprint. The $2 million Al Quoz Sprint (G1) is squarely on the grey filly's radar.
IN BRIEF: DWC Carnival fan favourite Prince of Arran made his case for a spot in the Melbourne Cup (G1) when winning Wednesday's Geelong Cup (G3) in Australia for trainer Charlie Fellowes… Per trainer Tony Cruz, multiple Group 1-winning Hong Kong star Exultant will aim toward the $6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1).
The chestnut gelding is currently preparing for a defence of his title in the Hong Kong Vase (G1) in December over the same 2400m distance… According to conditioner Shane Nichols, Streets of Avalon, who defeated Godolphin's Royal Meeting when winning Saturday's Moonga Stakes (G3) at Caulfield in Australia, is possible for the Dubai World Cup Carnival… Magic Wand, a respectable fifth in the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic in March, is set for a tilt at the prestigious Cox Plate (G1) in Australia this weekend. The globetrotting filly will be racing in her fifth different country this year. She has been second in four of her last five, including the Irish Champion (G1) last out astern Magical.