By Lynne Snierson
Capezzano, who was bred by Darley in Kentucky, is right at home in the Middle East. Fourteen of his 16 career efforts and all six of his wins have been on the all-weather surface at Meydan in the United Arab Emirates and the other two starts were in England.
The Group 1-winning son of Bernardini, who in America won multiple Grade 1 races, including the 2006 Preakness, is so at home in the UAE that he was dispatched as the favorite in the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) last year. His 12th and last place finish that night was very disappointing, so much so that he didn’t return to the races until Feb. 13 in the one-mile Firebreak Stakes (G3) at Meydan.
The Firebreak was designed as the first in the 6-year-old’s three-race 2020 campaign that continues with the $20 million Saudi Cup (G1) on Saturday, and ends with Dubai World Cup on March 28. All went according to plan on the first leg as he won off the bench by seven lengths in front-running style.
“I delayed this horse and didn’t use him at all in training until the end of September,” said trainer Salem Bin Ghadayer before the comeback. “He’s a Bernardini, is always keen and I made a program for him that is just February and March to keep his big performances saved for the big nights. At the end of the day, he was invited to the Saudi Cup and it’s only two weeks until that race, but he will need the race and I think the two weeks is enough time for recover. I think he can be 100 percent for Saudi and then Dubai World Cup, but this race will not be an easy race. We will go and try to win this race, but we must be very careful with him and his mentality. We have tried to keep him happy and relaxed, which is not easy, but he has trained and galloped well and he’s healthy and sound.”
Trainer: Salem bin Ghadayer
Owner: Sultan Ali
Jockey: Mickael Barzelona
Career record: 16 6-1-2
Career earnings: $823,924
Pedigree: Bernardini-Cable Knit, by Unbridled’s Song
Running style: Front-runner
“Won Group 3 at Meydan recently off 10-month layoff; doesn’t class up in here.” Ed McNamara
“Only loss in last five outings was in the 2019 Dubai World Cup … returned from a 10-month layoff to win the Firebreak at a mile on dirt last time, but will need a career-best effort, and probably much more, to hit the board this time.” – Noel Michaels
Notes: Salem bin Ghadayer, 41, is one of the leading trainers in the UAE where his yard is called Fazza Stables. He had his first starters on the UAE thoroughbred and Arabian circuit during the 20-14-15 season following time as a rider and trainer of endurance horses … In March 2018, in the midst of a breakout season, he was suspended for one year by the Emirates Racing Authority for a positive drug test. The horse in question was owned by Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bun Mahammed al Maktoum … Sultan Ali lives in Dubai, where the stable is based. Capezzano Pianore is a coastal village in the Tuscany region of Italy.