American trainer Jim Cassidy got a first-hand look at the sprawling backstretch at the new Meydan racecourse over the weekend. He made the walk between the barn area where the United States horses are housed to the racetrack, which took a lot longer than expected.
"It's got to be a mile and half to two miles," he said.
Cassidy trains The Usual Q.T., a California-bred who won four consecutive stakes from October to December and starts in Saturday's $5 million Dubai Duty Free over about 1 1-8 miles on turf on the undercard of the Dubai World Cup. The Usual Q.T. started as the even-money favorite in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic for California-breds and Florida-breds at Santa Anita on Jan. 30, but only finished ninth after failing to settle under jockey Victor Espinoza. The Usual Q.T. was later found to have bled in the race.
The Dubai Duty Free distance should not be a problem. One of The Usual Q.T.'s stakes wins last year was the Hollywood Derby over 1 1-4 miles on turf. The competition may be. The Dubai Duty Free includes Courageous Cat, who was second to Goldikova in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita last fall.
The European contenders include Presvis, who won the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in Hong Kong last year, and won a Group 2 race here on March 4.