Phoenix Thoroughbreds has two high-profile 3-year-olds who appear to be prime prospects for the Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1), the world’s richest race at $12 million. Multiple graded stakes winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) alumnus Axelrod and Belmont Stakes (G1) runner- up Gronkowski are headed to Dubai to join the yard of Sandeep Jadhav at the end of the month.
“Gronkowski and Axelrod will both be put into quarantine at the end of December,” Abdulaziz said. “We just found out that they are both approved for the Dubai Carnival, so that’s good news. We will point to the Maktoum Challenge races with them and hopefully trial them toward the Dubai World Cup.”
A good-looking son of Warrior’s Reward, Axelrod made a brief rally but had to settle for ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race in which 2018 Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow was third. Previously, he was second in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) and won both the Indiana Derby (G3) and Smarty Jones (G3) leading into that effort for trainer Mike McCarthy. He returned to the work tab this week with a sharp 800m breeze in 48 flat and remains co-owned by Slam Dunk Racing.
“He ran a good race, to be honest,” Abdulaziz continued. “You know how it is with horses. You want them to run well and we think he did. He’s only a 3-year-old and he wasn’t far behind (fifth-place) Mendelssohn. We have high hopes with him. He’s a beautiful horse.”
Gronkowski has failed to show the same spark he displayed in the Belmont Stakes, finishing eighth in the Travers (G1), sixth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and third last out (Nov. 24) in the Discovery Stakes (G3) as well-backed second choice.
“Gronkowski disappointed us a bit last out, but we think he ran a good race,” he continued. “We thought he could win and the trainer (Chad Brown) thought so too, but we will see what happens after this and once he gets to Dubai.”
Abdulaziz also expressed excitement about Phoenix’s presence at the DWC Carnival, namely with the likes of dirt-bred Pocket Dynamo, a Group 2-placed juvenile who exits a ninth in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (Listed), as well as Group 3-placed 3-year-old Lansky, who appears to be a promising 1200-1600m turf type. Both are trained by Robert Cowell and will remain in his care while based at Meydan.
“We want our best horses at the Carnival and that’s what a lot of our trainers have been instructed to do,”Abdulaziz concluded. “Hopefully we do well.”