Gentildonna launches international campaign in Sheema Classic
Japan's Trailblazer and the Aga Khan's Shareta had also competed in the Breeders' Cup Turf, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively. Trailblazer has run once in the interim, a disappointing 10th in the Group 1 Maktoum Challenge Round 3 on Tapeta, and reverts to turf in hopes of regrouping. Shareta was expected to retire after her trip to Santa Anita, but the Alain de Royer Dupre mare takes one last tilt at Group 1 glory here. Second in the 2011 Arc, Shareta reached her peak last summer with victories in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks and Group 1 Prix Vermeille, and warrants respect in this spot.
The globetrotting Dunaden is best known for his heart-stopping verdict in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup in 2011, just denying World Cup contender Red Cadeaux. The French-based stayer had no success in Europe last term, but he did score Down Under in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup at about this distance. Dunaden subsequently failed to defend his titles in the Melbourne Cup and in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase, and looks to bounce back in his 2013 debut for Mikel Delzangles.
Very Nice Name, who wasn't highly tried in his native France, has been unbeatable in Qatar this winter while compiling a five-race winning skein. German shipper Girolamo ended 2012 on a high note when taking the Group 1 Preis von Europa, and returns from a six-month vacation here.
Cavalryman, a close third in the City of Gold, steps up to about two grassy miles for Saturday's Group 3, $1 million Dubai Gold Cup. Once a top three-year-old in France, the Godolphin runner prevailed in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris and Group 2 Prix Niel before finishing third to Sea the Stars in the 2009 Arc. Cavalryman reinvented himself as a stayer in 2012, winning a couple of English listed races, but the bin Suroor veteran didn't get involved from off the pace in the Melbourne Cup.
Stablemate Ahzeemah eked out a tight finish in the local prep, the Nad al Sheba Trophy, with de Kock's Star Empire in third. Mahmood al Zarooni's Tenenbaum was an eye-catching fourth, and the John Oxx-trained Saddler's Rock a useful fifth. Both are entitled to move forward in the main event, especially Saddler's Rock, a dual Group 2 hero who was third in last year's Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup.
Imperial Monarch, the reigning winner of the Grand Prix de Paris, was last seen reporting home sixth in the Grade 1 Canadian International. The O'Brien colt tries this marathon trip for the first time, but because he is a half-brother to the classy stayer Mount Athos, he could appreciate the added ground.
Other contenders include Group 3 Prix de Lutece heroine Verema, who capped 2012 with a fourth in the Group 1 Prix Royal Oak; multiple German Group 3 scorer Seismos; Averroes, fourth in this race a year ago; and Jutland, who wheels back from a win in the Group 3 Abu Dhabi Championship March 17.
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