Desert Party wins matchup of Dubai 3-year-olds

The strength of Sheikh Mohammed's 3-year-olds was on full display Thursday as Godolphin Racing's Desert Party collared stablemate Regal Ransom in deep stretch to win the Group III UAE 2,000 Guineas by 43/4 lengths at Nad al Sheba in Dubai.

Although much of the pre-race attention focused on Godolphin's multiple Grade I winner Vineyard Haven, the $12 million private purchase who was making his season debut, it was Desert Party who made his case as the top 3-year-old in Sheikh Mohammed's lineup.

After chasing Redding Colliery and Regal Ransom in the early going of the 1,600-meter (about one mile) race, Desert Party overtook Regal Ransom with about 200 meters remaining and drew off handily under jockey Frankie Dettori, covering the distance in 1:37.62.

Regal Ransom held for second ahead of Redding Colliery while Vineyard Haven, who was making his first start since winning the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Belmont last October, lacked any response in the stretch and faded to fourth.

"Obviously I had the gray horse (Vineyard Haven) to beat but the vibes in the stable were that he perhaps needed the race tonight so I kept on this fellow," Dettori told TVG following the race. "I like him, he's improving and he's uncomplicated. He's got a good stride and he's got a good heart. That's most important in good horses."

A winner of two of three starts last year, Desert Party has seen his talents further blossom while in Dubai.

Purchased for $2.1 million by Sheikh Mohammed last February, Desert Party also defeated Regal Ransom in a 1,400-meter (6.95-furlong) race on Jan. 22 at Nad al Sheba.

"We knew he had come out of his last race very well and improved from that run," Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor said of the son of Street Cry. "This extra distance was never going to be a concern and, all being well, he will be UAE Derby bound."

The $2 million UAE Derby will be contested on March 28 as part of the undercard for the $6 million Dubai World Cup.

Brass Hat set for return

Venerable Grade I winner Brass Hat returns to racing Saturday in the $50,000 Dust Commander Stakes at Turfway Park, his first start in eight months.

After finishing fifth behind Curlin in the Grade I Stephen Foster last June, Brass Hat returned from a work with a minor injury and trainer Buff Bradley elected to turn a few weeks' recovery into an extended vacation.

The Dust Commander is the second Turfway stakes targeted by Bradley for a Brass Hat comeback. The 8-year-old gelding won the 2005 Prairie Bayou in his second start after fracturing an ankle in the Lone Star Derby almost 14 months earlier.