It is hard to imagine North America being more impressive than he was four weeks ago in the 1600m Gr2 $350,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1, but he has apparently exited said effort in top shape and will get a chance to stretch out to what many believe is an even better distance for him in this Thursday’s Gr2 $450,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 over 1900m.
A massive son of Dubawi, the Satish Seemar-trained gelding is an overwhelming favourite as he hopes to further materialise the Dubai World Cup dreams of his connections.
“He got the six draw today and it’s a small field of seven, so I don’t think that’s too bad,” Seemar said. “I maybe would have preferred a bit lower, but in this field, we are fine. There’s one speed horse outside of him, but hopefully we jump (well) out of the gate. If he does that, I am not worried.
“I haven’t spoken to the owner about what his other horse’s plans are,” Seemar continued. “I’m just doing what’s best for our horse and going to run in the race that suits him. The horse is doing really well and the last two seasons he has proven that he’s a better horse. Right now I think he’s the best ever been. He has finished his works very strong.”
The other horse is the referenced Cosmo Charlie, who races for the same owner, Ramzan Kadyrov, but is trained by Doug Watson. Adding intrigue is that Cosmo Charlie has proven that he is best when on the lead and is drawn to the immediate outside of North America, whose famously terrible break in the 2018 Dubai World Cup cost him the race and handed winner Thunder Snow an easy lead.
Cosmo Charlie has been a project for his conditioner. Long well-regarded, the son of Travers (G1) winner Stay Thirsty has taken a while to come to hand because of his high-spirited nature. A sharp winner of the 2017 Al Bastakiya (Listed) over this trip, he had an overall subpar 4-year-old season, but ended it with sharp return to form when finally allowed to stretch his speed to 2000m in The Entisar (Listed) last out on Dec. 20. Freshened since that 7¼-length romp, he has had his form franked when fellow Round 2 entrant New Trails manhandled a handicap field by 10 lengths last month.
“North America broke so well last time in the Round 1 and we actually don’t usually break too great, so that’s a concern,” Watson said. “Charlie just has that kind of natural speed once he gets into gear. We might have to sit off him, if North America breaks like that again. We are going to break to go forward and leave it to (jockey) Pat (Dobbs) and his judgment.
“One thing is he’s not a fan of kick-back,” Watson continued. “It’s going to be a smaller field, so if he can break and North America goes and we can sit off him, that might work, too. I will say that Charlie is a different horse since being gelded this year.”