May 25, 2024

Space Blues looks to dethrone Dark Power in 1351 Turf Sprint

Space Blues shoots to victory in the 2020 Lennox (Goodwood Racecourse via Racenews)

Before Call the Wind in the Red Sea Turf H. and New York Central in the Saudia Sprint, Dark Power will try to become the first repeat winner on Saudi Cup Day in Saturday’s $1 million 1351 Turf Sprint. But the Bahraini shipper will have to overcome a double challenge from the yard of Charlie Appleby, led by Space Blues.

1351 Turf Sprint – Race 2 (8:35 a.m. ET)

Named in reference to its distance in meters, the 1351 Turf Sprint produced a shock result a year ago when Dark Power got up to deny Appleby’s front-running Mubtasim. Bettors had underestimated the former British handicapper’s improvement since moving to top trainer Allan Smith in Bahrain. Dark Power didn’t resurface until this winter at his home track of Sakhir, placing third to stablemate Roman River (who runs in the Saudia Sprint) in the Dec. 25 BSC Cup and filling the same spot Jan. 22.

Appleby had the beaten favorite last year in Glorious Journey, the third-placer who tries again. But he’s likely to yield favoritism to stablemate Space Blues, brandishing a four-race winning streak crowned by the Aug. 9 Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1) at Deauville. Glorious Journey had the benefit of a prep at Meydan, though, when third as the defending champ in the Jan. 21 Al Fahidi Fort (G2) to Saeed bin Suroor’s Land of Legends.

Former Ballydoyle resident Royal Dornoch, best known for mugging Kameko in the 2019 Royal Lodge (G2), managed to post another upset in last summer’s Desmond (G3) in an otherwise lackluster season. Sold for 47,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale, he will make his debut for UAE trainer Musabbeh al Mheiri.

Urban Icon, who commanded 320,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale, will have his first start for Saudi connections. A familiar foe of Space Blues from his British days, he was fourth to Wichita and One Master in the Sept. 12 Park (G2) in his finale for Richard Hannon.

Multiple Group 3-placed Momkin, seventh here last year for William Haggas, subsequently became a local. Twice a winner on the dirt, he comes off a fourth to Saudi Cup-bound Great Scot in the Jan. 16 King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Cup. Larchmont Lad was ninth in his Saudi premiere in this race, but hasn’t progressed like Momkin in their new home.

Other Saudi-based entrants are Krispen, most recently runner-up in the Jan. 23 Ministry of Foreign Affairs Cup, along with Parx stakes victress Avalina and Captain Von Trapp, the respective second and third in an allowance last out.