Wondrwherecraigis “doing well” heading into Dubai race

Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables’ Laurel Park-based multiple stakes winner Wondrwherecraigis has settled in at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai ahead of his biggest assignment to date in Saturday’s $2 million Golden Shaheen (G1).

Winner of the six-furlong Fire Plug Jan. 29 at Laurel in his most recent start off a three-month layoff, Wondrwhereraigis left for Dubai March 13 in the care of assistant trainer Amanda Olds. Traveling without their two young children, trainer Brittany Russell and her husband, champion Maryland jockey Sheldon Russell, arrived in Dubai Wednesday.

“It’s amazing. It’s really nice. So far it’s been wonderful,” Brittany Russell said. “I used to be a very good traveling assistant, but since I stopped doing that maybe not so much. Leaving the kids was hard, but Dubai is amazing and this is the experience of a lifetime so we’re going to enjoy it.”

Russell, 32, has been impressed with how well Wondrwherecraigis has adjusted to his new surroundings.

“There’s so much that goes into how they travel and all those things. I think sometimes we want to talk ourselves into saying they’re doing well because they kind of need to be doing well, but I genuinely believe he is doing well,” she added. “He seems very happy. He hasn’t missed an oat, he’s drinking well, the heat doesn’t seem to bother him – all those little things I think go a long way. I guess we won’t know until race day.”

Jockey Luis Saez, who won the 2021 Dubai World Cup (G1) aboard Mystic Guide, will ride Wondrwherecragis in the six-furlong Golden Shaheen. Saez was aboard for the 5-year-old gelding’s front-running triumph in the 2021 Tale of the Cat at Saratoga.

Wondrwherecraigis drew Post 11 in a field of 14 and is co-fourth choice on the morning line at 8-1 with Red le Zele from Japan. The 3-1 program favorite is Dr. Schivel, with fellow Grade 1 winner Drain the Clock next at 5-1 and Meydan-based Group 3 winner Meraas at 7-1.

Wondrwherecraigis won the Fire Plug Stakes Jan. 29 at Laurel Park. Photo Jerry Dzierwinski.

“It’s huge. It’s one of the biggest positive-type things we have on our side,” Russell said of Saez. “He’s been high on this horse for a long time. He’s excited to ride this horse. He’s 8-1 but I believe he’s live, just with the confidence that Luis gives us. That goes a long way.”

Wondrwherecraigis has finished first in five consecutive races, a streak that began last July at historic Pimlico Race Course, but was disqualified to second for interference in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) at Laurel. He earned the first graded win for himself and his trainer next out in the Bold Ruler (G3) at Belmont Park.

“Craig’s fantastic. Everything about Craig is good. Knock on wood, he’s well. He enjoys traveling. He seems to enjoy a change of scenery and he’s doing well. Amanda has done a great job with him. He’s galloping and she’s been holding him together. He’s been on the bridle, so that’s sort of all you can ask,” Russell said. “Hopefully all the pieces kind of lay right by Saturday.”