Quip Adds Blinkers For Thursday’s Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2

Thursday’s Group 2, $293,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 over 1900m (9.5 furlongs) has drawn a field filled with questions soon to be answered on the road to the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1). Many of those queries circulate around the conditions of the race, whether it be the dirt surface for turf-bred full-brothers Dubai Warrior and Mootasadir, class-level for Firnas, Mark of Approval and Ajuste Fiscal, or the distance for assumed milers Quip, Salute the Soldier, Thegreatcollection, Blown By Wind and Capezzano.

RRR Racing’s 6-year-old Quip offers arguably the most intrigue on Thursday. A Satish Seemar trainee, the 2019 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) winner makes just his 15th start and second this season after finishing a non-threatening ninth last out in the Al Maktoum Challenge R1 (G2) at one mile. He does have a victory in lofty American company over nine furlongs, but has not raced to that form in three Dubai tries. That said, with his light campaigning, a fitness-building race under his belt and a change of equipment, it would not be a surprise to see him jump back into the win column.

“Quip is training really well,” said Bhupat Seemar, assistant trainer. “He has blinkers on the first time. All the speed horses are drawn on the inside, so it’s unfortunately not the best draw in eight. With how he’s training and what he does in the morning–if he can bring that in the evening–he’s going to go very, very close. Hopefully that’s what’s going to happen.”

Drawn on the rail is the speed of the speed in the race, Capezzano, who has not shown much prowess beyond one mile since winning the 2019 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 (G1) over 10 furlongs and a speed-favoring course. In fact, his only performance to that level in five subsequent starts was a stakes record-setting win in last year’s one-mile Firebreak (G3).

Meanwhile, ultra-consistent 2020 Burj Nahaar (G3) winner Salute the Soldier is racing 200m farther than he ever has for trainer Fawzi Nass and Doug Watson-trained Thegreatcollection steps up after a pair of career-best runs over one mile, including a second in Round 1.

“The post (seven) doesn’t really matter too much with him, as I think they will spread out a bit,” Watson said. “I believe he will stay the trip. His dam won over 1800m.”

Blown By Wind is an unknown quantity over these conditions. A handicapper who consistently competed at a mile in the UK for Mark Johnston, he was turned over to Salem bin Ghadayer, who also trains Capezzano and Listed winner Firnas, and rewarded the yard with an overpowering four-length win in the Jebel Ali Mile (G3) in his second local start. Though his rating has inflated to 110, he must back it up while stretching out an additional 300m and against G2 company. He was flattered when the runner-up that day, Secret Ambition, returned to win last week’s Firebreak (G3) by open lengths.

Much focus will be on Dubai Warrior, who leads the ratings at 115, but has never been tested on traditional dirt. A six-time winner on all-weather, including the G3 Winter Derby in 2020 over Saudi Cup-bound Bangkok, the John Gosden trainee must overcome a pedigree that appears a bit counterintuitive to the venture.

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