Engage trains up to Saudi Cup, Dubai World Cup day targets

January 19, 2020 11:30am

Engage, who won two of three starts for Woodford Racing last year once transferred from trainer Chad Brown to Steve Asmussen, will continue to run at the highest level in 2020.

Lane’s End Farm’s Bill Farish said Engage, a 5-year-old by Into Mischief, is training to exit his layoff in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint, a $1.5 million race on the new Feb. 29 Saudi Cup card. After that, he could stay overseas for Meydan’s $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) on March 28, World Cup night.

“We’re hoping we can qualify and we can take a shot,” Farish said of the Saudi Arabian sprint at King Abdulaziz Racetrack. “We think it’s an exciting thing they’re doing. We want to support it and be a part of it if we can.”

As for trying such a race without a start since the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Farish added, “I think Steve has a lot of confidence in the horse, and being that we’re not trying to go a mile and an eighth or a mile and a quarter, he’s not worried.”

Engage, a graded stakes winner at age 2, ran no better than fourth in his final trio of starts for the Brown barn. Farish called it a “pretty unique” situation that Brown suggested the change in trainer for Woodford Racing, Lane’s End’s racing arm.

Since then, Engage won Parx Racing’s Bensalem Stakes, Keeneland’s Phoenix (G2) and finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup running for Asmussen.

“Chad’s been wonderful with us,” Farish said. “When one’s not going as well as he had hoped, he’s willing to give them a change of scenery and not take it personally or anything like that. He’ll do what he thinks is best for the horse.

“I think Steve’s always been very good with sprinters. He fits this horse really well. Chad recognized that. It was kind of a mutual decision, and Steve was happy to have him and see what he could do with him. So far, it’s gone very well.”

Engage is with Asmussen’s Fair Grounds string, working five furlongs most recently last Monday in 1:00.40.

He might not be Lane’s End’s only representative on Saudi Cup day. Bill's father, Will Farish, owns part of the 4-year-old filly Royal Intervention along with famed composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber. She’s a candidate for the $1 million Turf Sprint.

The 5-year-old Campaign, a marathoner for Woodford Racing in the John Sadler barn, could also earn his way overseas with a solid showing in Santa Anita Park’s Feb. 1 San Marcos Stakes (G2).

“He wants to run him there and see if that last race was kind of an aberration,” Bill Farish said, with the normally consistent Campaign eased Nov. 1 in the Marathon Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita.

“He just went badly off form. (Sadler) checked him out every which way he could and found nothing. We just gave him some time, and now we’re bringing him back and hoping he’s back to his old self.”

Campaign, who also won a pair of graded races in 2019, is another case of unselfishness among Woodford Racing’s group of trainers. He started with Asmussen before moving west with Sadler.

The $1 million Neom Turf Cup would be his race of choice in Saudi Arabia.


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