Cruz excited by California Spangle’s Group 1 Al Quoz prospects

California Spangle in Dubai
California Spangle exercising at Meydan Racecourse.

Tony Cruz is confident California Spangle can defy convention by reprising elite sprinting form and pressing for victory in the HK$11.7 million Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (1200m) at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday night.

To face 11 rivals, including John Size’s Sight Success, California Spangle will contest a 1200m race for the first time since January 16, 2022, having had 18 starts since from 1400m to 2000m while racking up seven wins, including last-start victory in the Group 1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) on March 10.

Bidding for his third overseas Group 1 score after wins with Silent Witness in the 2005 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) at Nakayama and the 2006 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) with Bullish Luck at Tokyo, Cruz is confident California Spangle has the requisite attributes.

“I think the 1200 metres here (Meydan), you need a 1400-metre horse to do it. He could be the right horse to come here,” Cruz said.

“On his debut in Hong Kong over 1000m, he won the Griffin race (on June 13, 2021) and he broke the class record (clocking 55.33s) and when he raced over 1200m, he broke the Griffin record, too (clocking 1:08.47 on July 4, 2021).

“But then we went further with him and he did well. So, he’s a really good sprinter-miler, but I believe the 1200 metres here will suit him.

“It’s every trainer’s dream to make something happen, not just in your home country but you’ve got to be winning elsewhere so I’m happy to be here – and I think I’ve got a shot this time.”

To be ridden by Brenton Avdulla, California Spangle will contend with an international brigade of proven sprinters, including last year’s winner Danyah, Charlie Appleby’s Star Of Mystery – who will be partnered by Frankie Dettori – US speedster Casa Creed, Diligent Harry, Frost At Dawn and Japan’s Jasper Krone, among others.

“Dubai is a big meeting – the world stage and you’ve got the best horses from all over the world,” Cruz said. “I’m so happy to be part of it and I’m very happy with California Spangle coming over here.

“I believe this horse is really a sprinter-miler. I believe he can run the 1200 metres, I believe he can do 1400 metres. He’s a 1200m-1400m horse really, the mile we’ve been lucky many times.

“We stuck to the mile races (in Hong Kong) but there again, with what I see over here, I think my horse can do the 1200 metres, too. He’s got a strong pace and he’s got speed to do it and he’s got stamina, too.”

Ryan Moore will partner Sight Success, who finished fourth in this race to Danyah last year.

Ricky Yiu’s Voyage Bubble and Caspar Fownes-trained Straight Arron will contest the Group 1 Dubai Turf (1800m).

Voyage Bubble had his final piece of fast work at Meydan this morning (Wednesday, March 27), pleasing stable representative, Yiu’s son, Eric.

“He travelled well, has been eating well and worked nicely on the turf this morning in his final serious piece of work,” Yiu said.

The 2023 Hong Kong Derby (2000m) winner will be ridden by Frenchman Mickael Barzalona this weekend.

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