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Tuesday / March 19.

Diego Maradona goes from managing in the UAE to chairman of Belarus club

Only one of Prince Khalid Adbullah’s three Derby winners at Epsom carried entirely obvious credentials going in to the famous race and connections of Crossed Baton are understandably looking to test what they have got in Thursday’s Dante Stakes at York.
Commander in Chief turned up to Epsom in 1993 unbeaten, whereas Quest For Fame three years earlier had been turned over in a three-runner Derby trial at Chester before his signature career triumph.
In 2010 Workforce had won only a maiden before he pitched up to York for the Dante, and his inexperience was there for all to see as he pulled the bit through his mouth and wandered around the track to lose what is considered the Derby trial nonpareil.
No horse had ever lost the Dante Stakes and then prevailed at Epsom, but Workforce developed rapidly on that steep learning curve and became the first horse in more than 50 years of Dante history to go on to score at Epsom. He did it in record time, too.
What the Saudi Prince has got on his hands with Crossed Baton, a horse whom he bred through his Juddmonte Farms operation, is hard to fathom after he showed the required ability, and more importantly the agility for a big horse, to win Epsom’s Derby trial three weeks ago. That, historically, has not been a strong race, but was upgraded to Listed status at the end of last season following the exploits of Cracksman, now rated the best horse in Europe, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed of Dubai’s tough but ill-fated Permian.
“Crossed Baton worked pleasingly on Friday morning,” Lord Grimthorpe, the owner’s racing manager said. “I felt it was a very solid performance at Epsom. It’s always difficult to make all there and he did that. The form is at least appreciable. With the Derby all things become engrossing and he has come through an Epsom trial, progressed pretty nicely physically and in his work he is going the right way. So he deserves a shot at the Dante.
“I think that will give us a pretty good idea. Then you have to look at what’s going (to Epsom) and assess your chances as realistically as possible. Obviously if there’s a chance he could be a serious Derby contender we want to give him that chance.”
That is hardly a ringing endorsement of his chances in the most important race in the world in two weeks, but this is trial season and dreams need to be turned in to reality. The son of top-class miler Dansili does not obviously have the breeding to indicate that he will be the strongest stayer over another two furlongs at Epsom on the first Saturday in June and today’s test could well see him win a battle along the way but ultimately lose the war.
The mount of Frankie Dettori faces eight rivals, with Roaring Lion, who beat Crossed Baton on their racecourse debuts at Newmarket in August, appearing the most likely winner.
Crossed Baton’s stablemate at Gosden’s Newmarket base is not an entirely straightforward ride for Oisin Muprhy, however, but was good enough to finish on the heels of Derby favorite Saxon Warrior in the 2000 Guineas 12 days ago and again in the Group One Racing Post Trophy at the end of last season.
He is not the only danger. The Dubai Royal family fire a twin-pronged attack at the race with Charlie Appleby’s unbeaten Nordic Lights set to represent Godolphin, and Mildenberger, who showed he was worth a dice roll in the more exulted company for owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Crown Prince Of Dubai, when a solid winner of a Listed race at Newmarket last month.
Aidan O’Brien is never short of a potential Derby runner and send over James Cook, who was fourth to Crossed Baton at Epsom, and Zabriskie from Ireland, while Wells Farhh Go, a winner at the track last season, and White Mocha complete the field.

via AN