Horse Racing
Trackside enthusiasm for Jesus' Team prior to this weekend's Dubai World Cup adventure

24/03/2021 15:34

Former Venezuelan champion trainer Jose Francisco D’Angelo has made a big splash since transferring to the United States of America mainly thanks to the rousing exploits of four-year-old colt Jesus’ Team who could cap all previous achievements in this weekend’s G1 Dubai World Cup (2000m, dirt), the finale to an intriguing eight race simulcast programme from Meydan racecourse this Saturday night (27 March).

Since 2000, US-trained raiders have won Dubai’s showcase event nine times and Jesus’ Team and likely favourite Mystic Guide appear formidable US contenders for Meydan glory on the 25th anniversary of the meeting.

Quietly spoken but known to roar vigorously as a horse race reaches its climax D’Angelo has also been animated as he has supervised Meydan preparations of Jesus’ Team. And, after the colt – with usual blinkers applied – had stretched a circuit and a half around Meydan’s dirt track on Monday (22 March), the trainer enthused: "We came here early because I wanted to accustom him to the lights as it will be his first time running under them. Jesus did it perfectly. He is 100 percent, he loves Dubai – the weather, the water and the environment."

Jesus’ Team joined the D’Angelo’s stable about a year ago and D’Angelo credits the horse with having taught his trainer plenty about travelling, something that he was rarely required to worry about when based in Venezuela. "With Jesus’ Team we travelled a lot by truck in the US, travelling by air is very different but it went well for him coming here."

The truck travelling that the trainer refers to included when the bay colt was transported to Pimlico racecourse in Maryland to finish third in the G1 Preakness Stakes (1900m, dirt) – second leg of the US Triple Crown – later when second in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland racecourse in Kentucky. Another terrific performance came last time when second in the US$3 million G1 Pegasus World Cup (1800m, dirt) much closer to home at Gulfstream Park racecourse in Florida, having also won at that track in his previous start.

"He always shows up," says the proud trainer alluding to the consistent and courageous attitude of Jesus’ Team whilst it seems appropriate that ace US rider Joel Rosario will partner the colt for the first time. Rosario has Dubai World Cup history, winning the race in 2013 on Animal Kingdom.

If long-term strategy counts for anything another with South American connections, Ajuste Fiscal and his Brazilian trainer and jockey combination of Antonio Cintra Pereira and Vagner Leal could be an interesting Dubai World Cup outsider.

Cintra revealed the extent of the strategy after Ajuste Fiscal – Uruguay’s Horse of the Year in 2019 – had done some light work at Meydan on Monday. "We have been planning this campaign for Ajuste Fiscal since March 2019." And two solid 2021 Meydan efforts, especially when a strong-finishing third to Salute The Soldier in the G2 Al Maktoum Challenge R2 (1900m, dirt) in February, surely will have quietly enhanced hopes of a Dubai World Cup upset win with a South American flavour.