A strong run of form in Dubai this winter from Algiers has England-based conditioners Ed and Simon Crisford thinking that the multiple group stakes winner is worthy of a try in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Santa Anita Park. But should he make the journey to California, he’ll first audition by way of New York when contesting Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Woodward going nine furlongs at Belmont at the Big A.
Owned by Rabbah Bloodstock, Algiers has not raced since finishing a game second in the Dubai World Cup (G1) in March at Meydan Racecourse, finishing 2 3/4 lengths behind Japanese invader Ushba Tesoro. The 6-year-old Shamardal gelding captured two of the three rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge by open lengths. He took the one-mile Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 (G2) on January 6 by 6 1/2 lengths before stretching out to 1 3/16 miles for the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) on February 3, winning by six lengths.
“Obviously, he ran a super race in the Dubai World Cup but there’s nothing really for him here in England. We wanted to keep him on dirt because he seems so effective on it,” said Ed Crisford. “He had a hard campaign last winter. He started racing around this time last year and went all the way through to April, so we gave him a nice summer holiday and aimed him for the Breeders’ Cup. He needs a prep run for the Breeders’ Cup, so the Ack Ack at Churchill and the Woodward were what we were looking at. It’s a good prep. If you go well in the Woodward, you have options basically.”
Crisford noted that Algiers will have to prove his Dubai success can translate stateside.
“It is a fact finding mission. We want to see if he can handle the American dirt because it is different than Meydan. I do think the New York tracks are more similar to Meydan than some of the other tracks,” Crisford said. “We want to see what he can do against top American dirt horses. If he goes well, wins or runs very well, we can justify going to the Breeders’ Cup. If not, we’ll probably just take him back to Dubai. It all depends on what happens on the weekend.”
Algiers was initially campaigned by trainer Andre Fabre and transferred to the Crisfords following a three-year campaign in France, where he raced exclusively on grass and won three times. He made his main track debut in his first start for Crisford at Jebel Ali Racecourse last January, finishing second going 1 3/16 miles before capturing the Jebel Ali Mile (G3) last February. He was then a distant eighth in the Godolphin Mile (G2) last March in his lone off the board effort on dirt.
Following a summer freshening, Algiers was reintroduced to turf when capturing a 1 5/16-mile handicap event in October at York before finishing a distant sixth in the James Seymour going 10 furlongs three weeks later at Newmarket. He was then narrowly beaten in the Churchill over the all-weather surface at Lingfield to round out his 2022 campaign.
“We took him out to Dubai after he came to us from France, where he’d been running on turf. He started to go really well on the dirt, covering the ground super well,” Crisford said. “We ran him in a Group 3 at Jebel Ali and he won. So, we figured he took to the surface really well. We ran him on Dubai World Cup night and he ran OK. After that we brought him back to England, gelded him, gave him the summer off and got him on turf again.
“We ran him on the all-weather and he put up some good figures in that race,” Crisford continued. “When he went back to Meydan, he improved almost 10-15 pounds for running on that dirt, he was just a different animal. The year before training on the dirt, he really knew what he was doing. He’s such a natural. He’s got such a high cruising speed and he can quicken off the strong pace. That’s what you need for dirt and he’s a natural at it.”
While neither Crisford will make the trip to New York, Algiers, who is slated to arrive in New York today, will be overseen and saddled by traveling assistant Les Reynolds.
Bred in Ireland by Godolphin, Algiers is out of the Platini mare Antara – a group-stakes winner in Germany and England, who was also Group 1-placed in England, France and Italy. Algiers has banked $3,026,934 through a record of 21: 7-6-2.