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Trinniberg tries Tapeta in Golden Shaheen

Trinniberg is showing an affinity for the synthetic surface, according to trainer Shivananda Parbhoo (Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club)
Champion sprinter Trinniberg and perennial runner-up Private Zone will line up in Saturday's Group 1, $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen, where they will clash with defending champion Krypton Factor and Godolphin's Mental.

Trinniberg ranked as the leading three-year-old speedster of 2012 with victories in the Grade 3 Swale, Grade 3 Bay Shore and Grade 2 Woody Stephens. The Shivananda Parbhoo colt wrapped up the divisional Eclipse Award by defeating older horses in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, and has been freshened since that November 3 score at Santa Anita.

Such a profile would have made Trinniberg the horse to beat on the old dirt at Nad al Sheba. But the Tapeta at Meydan is a different ballgame. Since the change in venue in 2010, all three Golden Shaheen winners had previously won on synthetic. Trinniberg has never raced on a surface other than dirt, and like his ill-fated stablemate Giant Ryan, he will be making his synthetic debut here. Giant Ryan flashed early speed before retreating to fifth in last year's Golden Shaheen, and Trinniberg will try to improve on his showing.

Private Zone has prior experience on synthetic since joining Doug O'Neill, most notably a second to Smiling Tiger in the Grade 3 Vernon O. Underwood over Hollywood Park's Cushion Track. The Macho Uno gelding has developed a habit of finishing second of late, with four straight runner-up efforts including the Grade 1 Malibu and Grade 2 Palos Verdes last out. Private Zone promises to show bags of early pace along with Trinniberg, and deserves sentimental favoritism. The former Panamanian champion is owned by a partnership including Rene Douglas, who was paralyzed in a spill at Arlington Park in 2009.

Also shipping in are Group 1 Prix de la Foret victor Gordon Lord Byron, an easy winner of a prep on Dundalk's Polytrack; Reply, twice Group 1-placed for Aidan O'Brien; Hong Kong's Frederick Engels, runner-up in the Group 1 Chairman's Sprint Prize and Group 1 Centenary Sprint Cup this season; and Taisei Legend from Japan.

Mental brought top Australian form with him into his Godolphin debut for Mahmood al Zarooni in the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint. Originally trained by Peter Snowden Down Under, the Lonhro gelding traded narrow decisions with the classy filly Sea Siren in a pair of Group 1s last year. Mental couldn't quite catch her in the Manikato, but did collar her in time in the Victoria Racing Club. He successfully transferred his game to the Tapeta with a relentless late run in the Al Shindagha over this same about six-furlong trip, and a similar performance would make him tough to beat.

Krypton Factor was one of the surprising story lines of the 2012 Carnival, when the Fawzi Nass runner made remarkable progress culminating in a 2 1/4-length upset of the Golden Shaheen. The gelded son of Kyllachy made an encouraging return to Meydan when third to Mental in the Al Shindagha Sprint, but he failed to build on that tightener when a disappointing second in the Group 3 Mahab al Shimaal. Krypton Factor was beaten four lengths by the handicapper Reynaldothewizard that day, dealing a blow to his reputation ahead of this title defense.

Reynaldothewizard, who has turned over a new leaf with the addition of blinkers, looks to prove himself at a higher level. Also exiting the Mahab al Shimaal is third-placer Balmont Mast.

Kavanagh, runner-up to Mental in the Al Shindagha, flattered him by coming back to take a turf sprint handicap. The Mike de Kock charge reverts to synthetic here and warrants respect as a Group 1-caliber performer at home in South Africa.

Other U.A.E.-based hopes are United Color, an Italian Group 3 scorer who took a course-and-distance handicap in his latest, and Tamaathul, who broke the six-furlong course record on turf earlier at the Carnival.

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