Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum's homebred REEM (Galileo [Ire]) brought the strongest formlines into Thursday's $250,000 Al Bastakiya at Meydan, and the four-year-old filly flaunted it by crushing males by 5 1/4 lengths in the middle jewel of the Dubai Triple Crown. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club.)
Reem, who had previously traded decisions with her highly-touted stablemate Mahbooba (Galileo [Ire]), was single-handedly advancing both their claims to the March 26 U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2).
"The fillies certainly seem better than the colts this year," trainer Mike de Kock observed, "and Reem and Mahbooba will both go the Derby now with live chances."
Well placed early by Kevin Shea, Reem remained in striking distance, just off the pace carved out by Sonoran Sands (Footstepsinthesand [GB]). Shea was confident enough in his mount to launch a bid leaving the far turn, and Reem promptly delivered the coup de grace. The chestnut kicked away with consummate authority before Shea gave her an easy time in the closing stages, eventually coasting under the line in a time of 1:59 4/5 for about 1 3/16 Tapeta miles.
Ahlaain (Bernstein) flubbed the start, but rallied to finish a clear best of the rest by 4 1/4 lengths. As the runner-up in last Thursday's Meydan Classic, Ahlaain gave the form a solid look. Borug (Kingmambo) took third, while Sonoran Sands faded to fourth. Bridgefield (Speightstown), a close fourth in the February 10 U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-G3), cast a blot on that form by winding up fifth and was followed by Paulinho (Equal Stripes), Energia Carioca (Thignon Lafre [Brz]), Air of Grace (Dalakhani), Amica (Silvano [Ger]) and the long-way last Abjer (Singspiel [Ire]).
The Australian-bred Reem's first stakes coup advanced her record to 9-3-4-0, $314,291. She finished second in her first two starts Down Under for David Payne, then opened her account over a mile at Warwick Farm in July. A close fifth to the talented More Strawberries (More Than Ready) in her stakes debut in the September 4 Furious S. (Aus-G2) at Randwick, she next came in ninth versus males in the September 18 Gloaming S. (Aus-G3).
Reem has really come to hand since teaming up with de Kock in Dubai. An upset, wire-to-wire winner over Mahbooba in the January 13 U.A.E. One Thousand Guineas Trial, she couldn't hold a candle to Mahbooba in the Guineas itself, but finished a useful second. Reem ducked a rematch in the February 24 U.A.E. Oaks (UAE-G3), instead contesting the February 18 Balanchine S. (UAE-G2), where she garnered runner-up honors behind de Kock's classy older mare River Jetez (Jet Master).
Produced by the Danehill mare Al Afreet, Reem comes from the family of Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-G1) and Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-G1) winner and multiple highweight Rodrigo de Triano (El Gran Senor), Group 3 scorer Modigliani (Danzig) and Danish Group 1 victor Varuna (Luthier).