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Riches of Dubai Not Attraction for Some

Times Staff Writer

Jerry Bailey, the dominant jockey in this country for several years, has been even better in Dubai.

He has won four of the first seven runnings of the world’s richest race, the $6-million Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba in the United Arab Emirates.

When post positions were drawn Wednesday for the World Cup card, featuring six other races and total purses of $15.25 million, Bailey’s name was conspicuous by its absence.

Because of the world situation and the war in Iraq, which is about 850 miles northwest of Dubai, Bailey -- winner of the inaugural race in 1996 aboard Cigar and the last two aboard Captain Steve and Street Cry -- chose not to make the trip. Bailey’s decision was made much easier when Strub Stakes winner Medaglia d’Oro bypassed the Classic -- along with other top jockeys David Flores and Gary Stevens.

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Other jockeys , however, opted to make the long journey, including Southern California-based Kent Desormeaux, Alex Solis and Tyler Baze.

So, too, did John Velasquez, who is primarily based in New York. Although he had reservations and because his wife is expecting the couple’s second child, Velasquez made the trip to ride Harlan’s Holiday in the Classic.

There have been concerns for months about the World Cup, but organizers have said all along that the races would be held regardless of the political situation.

Julio Canani, a trainer who has made the trip to Dubai three times and is there again to saddle Cayoke in the $1-million Godolphin Mile, expects things to be the same this year.

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“Martin Panza [Hollywood Park’s racing secretary] has been over there for a while and he told me everything is the same as always,” said Canani before he departed. “I’m not worried. It’s always been great every time I have been there. The security at the airport in Dubai is probably the best in the world.”

It is also reassuring that Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum, the man who built Nad Al Sheba and the organizer of the World Cup, is not only the crown prince of Dubai but also its minister of defense.

In the Classic, Harlan’s Holiday, who races for Jack and Laurie Wolf’s Starlight Stable, will be trying for his first victory in his fifth start at 1 1/4 miles.

Nayef, a multiple Group I winner on the grass, could be favored in the Classic, although he has never raced on dirt.

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Solis’ best chance for a victory could come aboard Captain Squire, one of the main contenders in the $2-million Golden Shaheen. Trained by Jeff Mullins, Captain Squire will face a lineup that includes Xtra Heat, Avanzado (who will be ridden by Baze) and My Cousin Matt.

Desormeaux will attempt to guide Grey Memo to a second consecutive victory in the $1-million Godolphin Mile. Stevens rode the late runner to victory in the 2002 race.

Inamorato, who is owned by Godolphin, will try to earn his way into the Kentucky Derby with a victory in the $2-million UAE Derby. A son of Tale Of The Cat who began his career with a victory in a maiden race at Hollywood Park last July 6, Inamorato needs to win Saturday to move on to Churchill Downs.


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