Dubai date, a ban and a potential superstar for Mike Smith
Mike Smith, who rode Arrogate to win last year's Dubai World Cup, will partner champion racemare Forever Unbridled in this year's race on March 31.
But the Dallas Stewart-trained six-year-old goes to Meydan without a prep race, having won the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Del Mar in November on her most recent start.
Smith takes over from John Velazquez, who is required by Todd Pletcher to ride leading Kentucky Derby hope Audible in the Florida Derby on the same day.
Speaking of Forever Unbridled, Smith said: "Her last few races have really been tremendous. She’s running the kind of races where she can definitely compete with the boys.
"She’s a big filly, too, and pretty much as big as the boys she’ll be running against, so I’m very excited about the opportunity to ride her. The mile and a quarter is something she should really like."
The jockey known as 'Big-Money Mike', meanwhile, has been suspended for three days by Santa Anita stewards for his part in the interference that cost his mount McKinzie first place in a controversial running of the San Felipe Stakes on Saturday.
After an epic stretch battle, the Bob Baffert-trained three-year-old passed the post first, a head in front of fellow Kentucky Derby hope Bolt D'Oro, who was handed the victory in a much-criticised decision. The pair are likely to renew rivalry in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 7.
Another Classic hopeful for Baffert and Smith emerged on Sunday's card at Santa Anita, when the highly-rated Justify annihilated his rivals in a conditions race on his second start to stay unbeaten.
A major Classic trial beckons next month for the son of Scat Daddy, who may bid to become only the second Kentucky Derby winner in history to score at Churchill Downs without running as a two-year-old. The other one was Apollo in 1882.
Baffert-trained Mourinho, winner of the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn, has been put down after breaking down in his work and suffering a severe sesamoid fracture in a foreleg.
Star filly Unique Bella has been ruled out of this weekend's Santa Margarita Stakes after coughing.
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