March 8 (UPI) -- Super Saturday in Dubai, the highlight of weekend horse racing around the world, opened the door to World Cup night for some of the horses who have toiled through seven weeks of the Carnival.
Australia had four Group 1 events and Japanese 3-year-olds continue to sort themselves out with the Classics right around the corner. There's even more from South Africa and Hong Kong.
Here's a look, around the world, around the clock:
Dubai Super Saturday
The Super Saturday program at Meydan Racecourse provided a final chance for the local runners to prepare for the international onslaught expected for the March 27 Dubai World Cup night and it did not disappoint.
Salute the Soldier confirmed his spot in the World Cup itself, the ageless Lord Glitters franked his passport for the Dubai Turf. Panadol and maybe a few others staked out spots in the UAE Derby, a 100-point prep for the Kentucky Derby.
And jockeys Frankie Dettori and Pat Dobbs waged their own personal battle, splitting a pair of top sprint races in close finishes with Final Song and Canvassed winning.
Here's how the night played out:
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Going in, the question about 6-year-old, German-bred Salute the Soldier was whether he could handle the 2,000-meter distance of this race and the World Cup itself. Jockey Adrie de Vries said he answered in the affirmative after winning by 1 3/4 lengths.
"I'm just as happy with the 2,000 meters," de Vries said. "Sometimes it looks like they're getting to him. But if they do get to him, I think he's got a little more in the tank."
Winning trainer Fawzi Nass said Salute the Soldier "showed us last year that he glides over this surface here at Meydan. He's not built like a sprinter."
He will face much tougher when the world arrives in three weeks' time.
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Panadol pulled a mild upset in this prep for the Group 2 UAE Derby on World Cup night. After breaking sharply for jockey Mickael Barzalona, the New York-bred Flatter colt crossed over to the fence and carried a daylight lead in the stretch.
Speight'spercomete gave chase but could not make up any ground in the final 100 meters and finished second. Uruguayan-bred El Patriota salvaged third.
Panadol, out of the Dixieland Band mare Arradoul, was bred by Chester and Mary Broman and sold for $180,000 at the Ocala Spring Sale of 2-year-olds in training.
The UAE Derby is a 100-point race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, ensuring the winner a spot in the Churchill Downs starting gate and likely also a position for the runner-up.
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Eight-year-old Lord Glitters looked hopelessly beaten at the top of the stretch, gobbled up ground and then got through between the leaders to win by a short head over Eqtiraan. The favorite, Al Suhail, wandered through the stretch and settled for third, another short head in arrears.
Lord Glitters, a striking, light-gray gelding, was third in the Group 1 Dubai Turf two years ago, a race won by Japan's wondermare, Almond Eye. That one was set to defend her title last year before the entire World Cup program was canceled at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. She now is retired and Lord Glitters looks competitive again for the big race.
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Dettori and Final Song took a substantial lead into the stretch in this prep for the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint and almost gave it away in the final strides. Motafaawit, with Dobbs up, came flying from far back down the middle of the track, well outside Final Song, and just missed by a head. Acklam Express was third.
Final Song, a 4-year-old Dark Angel (IRE) filly, finished the 1,200 meters (about 6 furlongs) in 1:10.39.
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The plot was the same but the outcome just the opposite in this dirt sprint as Dettori sent Good Effort out to a big lead only to surrender it in the final strides to Canvassed, with Dobbs up. The margin of victory was a neck and it was another 2 3/4 lengths to Lavaspin in third.
Canvassed, a 6-year-old Shamardal gelding trained by Doug Watson, notched his second straight win at Meydan over the same trip and is primed for the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen on World Cup night.
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Godolphin runners finished 1-2-3-4 in this 2,410-meters marathon, a prep for the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup on World Cup night. The favorite, Walton Street, a 7-year-old Cape Cross gelding, took the lead a half-mile out and cruised across the finish 3 1/2 lengths to the good of Dubai Future.
It was another 4 3/4 lengths to Desert Fire and 8 1/4 more to Brilliant Light. After that, it was another 19 1/2 lengths to the closest pursuer.
Walton Street, trained by Charlie Appleby and ridden by William Buick, finished in 2:26.83.
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Midnight Sands scored his sixth straight win at Meydan in this 1-mile dirt event, a prelude to the Group 2 Godolphin Mile on World Cup night.
The 5-year-old son of Speightstown won by 2 1/4 lengths as much the best. He was less successful in a recent trip to the United States, last seen finishing eighth in the Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland in November.
Saturday: Four Group 1 races spread across two venues with nary a favorite finishing in the top three.
Zoutori was along in the final 50 meters to edge Indian Pacific in Saturday's Group 1 Sappelt Wines Newmarket Handicap at Flemington with Amish Boy third and the favorite, September Run, 10th.
The first three finishers were among a group of four who isolated in the middle of the track through the bulk of the 1,200 meters. Zoutori, a 5-year-old Zoustar gelding, posted his first Group 1 victory with Luke Currie booting him home in 1:09.61 over a course upgraded to "good" just before the race.
Zoutori's best previous efforts came in winning the Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Stakes in both 2019 and 2020.
Also Saturday at Flemington, Homesman got the better of Best of Days at the finish of the Group 1 TAB Australian Cup. The favorite, Fifty Stars, reported 10th in this one, too.
Homesman, a 7-year-old, American-bred War Front gelding, ran 2,000 meters in 2:01.47 with Jye O'Neill up. It was a significant comeback for a horse who won the Group 1 Underwood Cup and finished second in both the Group 1 Caulfield Cup and Group 1 Underwood Stakes in 2019, but hadn't produced much since.
At Royal Randwick on Saturday, Lion's Roar rallied smartly outside rivals through the final 200 meters to post a comfortable upset win in the Group 1 Mostyn Copper Randwick Guineas.
Mo'unga was second-best with the favorite, Aegon, sixth. Lion's Roar, a New Zealand-bred gelding by Contributor, finished 1,600 meters on good turf in 1:33.39, posting his fourth win from seven starts.
And in the fourth Group 1 of a busy day down under, Savatiano edged Mizzy in the Heineken Canterbury Stakes at 1,300 meters at Royal Randwick with the favorite, Bivouac, a flat fourth. Savatiano, a 6-year-old Street Cry mare, and Bivouac both run for Godolphin and both are trained by James Cummings.
Malmoos surged into contention 300 meters from the finish in Saturday's Group 1 World Sports Betting S A Classic for 3-year-olds at Turffontein Standside, dueled for the lead and then drew off in the final 50 meters to win with a daylight edge.
Second Base finished in second place with Catch Twentytwo catching third money. Malmoos, a Captain Al colt trained by Mike de kock for Sheik Hamdan al Maktoum, won for the sixth time in seven starts while finishing 1,900 meters in 1:50.18.
War of Athena won the fillies' counterpart Group 1, the Wilgerbosdrift S A Fillies Classic, by a comfortable 1 3/4 lengths from Netta. War of Athena, an Act of War filly, went to the post a heavy favorite in her first start since finishing second to Anything Goes in the Group 1 Thekwini Stakes at Greyville last August.
As Japan begins to lift some pandemic restrictions, limited facilities were opened for fans this weekend at Hanshin and Chukyo Racecourses, just in time for some early 3-year-old trials.
Meikei Yell and Elizabeth Tower duked it out through the final 100 meters of Saturday's Grade 2 Tulip Sho at Hanshin, a Japanese 1,000 Guineas Trial, and shared the victory in the end after hitting the finish line together. Stutti was another neck back in third.
Meikei Yell, a Harbinger filly, was rank and looked uncomfortable behind and between rivals early, took the lead when shown daylight and held the advantage into the stretch.
Elizabeth Tower challenged on her inside, got a head in front and then relinquished that slight advantage at the end. The duo finished 1,600 meters on good turf in 1:33.8.
Meikei Yell won her first three starts in 2020, then finished fourth in the Grade 1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies. Elizabeth Tower, a British-bred daughter of Kingman, won her only start as a 2-year-old and finished ninth in the Elfin Stakes at Chukyo in her only previous start of 2021.
Sunday at Nakayama, Titleholder got away to a soft early lead in the Grade 2 Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho Deep Impact Kinen, a Japanese 2,000-meter trial.
The Duramente colt picked things up as Schnell Meister started to apply a little pressure around the final turn but had plenty left in the tank, kicking on to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Schnell Meister was second with the favorite, Danon the Kid, making up ground late to finish third.
Titleholder, with Takeshi Yokoyama up, ran 2,000 meters on good to firm turf in 2:02.0. The colt ended his 2020 season finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Hopeful, also at 2,000 meters at Nakayama. Danon the Kid won the Hopeful, running his record to 3-for-3, and was making his 2021 debut.
With the BMW Hong Kong Derby just two weeks away and the field still unsettled, Flagship Glory may have run his way into the race with a victory in Sunday's Class 3 Hyacinth Handicap.
Flagship Glory became the first offspring of 2014 Epsom Derby winner to win in Hong Kong and jockey Zac Purton said that pedigree could enable him to move along from Sunday's 1,600 meters to the 2,000 meters of the Derby.
"I believe he can run the distance," Purton said. "He's very relaxed. He'll give himself a chance,"
Trainer Frankie Lor, who won the 2019 Derby with Furore, said he kept Flagship Glory out of the first two legs of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series because "he was a little bit keen and I wanted to take him step by step.
"It doesn't matter if he can't get into the Derby but if he gets in, we will run him," Lor said.