03/26/2009 7:29PM

Dubai-ous Favorite?


Maybe I'm being stubborn, but I'm just not buying the proposition that Albertus Maximus deserves to be strongly favored in the world's richest horse, Saturday's $6 million Dubai World Cup. He looks like a severe underlay and I'll be playing against him.


Invasor and Curlin won the last two World Cups by daylight, so perhaps the nominal leader of the American handicap division is just automatically considered the deserving chalk. Albertus Maximus is a nice enough racehorse and in good hands, but he's no Curlin or Invasor, champions who were fresh off Horse of the Year campaigns that incuded victories in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Albertus Maximus, who doesn't seem to have a whole lot of room for improvement after 19 career starts, has far, far skimpier credentials. He has won exactly one graded race (he is 1 for 6 in such events), the Donn at Gulfstream Jan. 31, where he scored by half a length over Finallymadeit, a confirmed G3 type, and earned a career-best Beyer of only 103 for his nine furlongs in 1:50.96. Going into their World Cups, Curlin had a best Beyer of 119 and Invasor had run a 116.

But he's a Breeders' Cup winner, isn't he? Yeah, but the BC Dirt/Synth Mile isn't exactly the Classic. That race got only a Beyer 102, and don't give me the low-synthetic-figures argument because on the same card Midnight Lute got a 112 in the Sprint and Raven's Pass got a 110 in the Classic. His effort was farther from those efforts than it was from Muhannak's victory in the BC Marathon, which earned a Beyer 100. Are we sure he's so much better than a Muhannak, who drew the dreaded rail for the World Cup but is 20-1 on an ML where Albertus Maximus is the 2-1 favorite? Are we so sure he's any better than the beaten favorites from his last two victories -- Well Armed (6-1 in the World Cup) and Arson Squad (15-1), each of whom has at least three races faster than the favorite's best?

It's a very closely-matched field, and it would probably be splitting hairs to choose among Albertus Maximus Arson Squad, Asiatic Boy, Casino Drive and Well Armed if they were all the same price. But there's just no good reason for Albertus Maximus to be strongly favored among them, and that's the stuff that parimutuel opportunities are made of. 

Click here for free World Cup past performances(pdf).

Ernie More than 1 year ago
"...former leading camel jockey (seriously) Ahmed Ajtebi as 18-1 Eastern Anthem nosed out 19-1 Spanish Moon in the $5m Dubai Sheema Classic." Five million! Nice to see a former camel jockey get over the hump.
Evan Gewirtz More than 1 year ago
Steve, Your article on steroids, medication and Eight Belles was on the mark. While I have no independent knowledge of the effect of steroids on horses, every trainer that I use and the many vets that I have used, and spoke to, were in uniform agreement that steroids have beneficial therapeutic effects on horses. Equating human and horse usage of steroids was pure folly. On balance, horses may be better off with diminished administation of steroids, but the misinformation that was out there was laughable. I genuinely respect that you have the courage to take an unpopular stance. Facts and evidence should always prevail over a misinformed, albeit, popular opinion of the day.
Walt More than 1 year ago
Just getting a brief look at the main event, has everyone forgotten about Casino Drive? He could very well spring the upset in what could be a very contentsious race. Anyway, as far as the last blog on NYRA, what really needs to be done in my opinion is to have NYRA end racing in the winter, shutting down entirely from mid-December until early March. That, and doing enough work on the main track to winterize it would eliminate the need for the inner track and allow that track to be converted to a turf course. Some might get upset about the down time in the winter, but I think from a psychological standpoint it would be good it we would again have a true season in New York. The laws obviously would be needed to change to make that happen, but I do think having down time would be good, especially if it means fuller fields once racing did resume. Short of that, I would be looking at going to four days a week next winter or even perhaps racing just Friday-Saturday-Sunday in the winter.
Medi in NY More than 1 year ago
Here is an interesting question......where will all the races be featured during the 9:40am EST post? Channel 71 the NYCOTB Channel usually carries the daily program entries and handicapping shows and ESPN has nothing listed on the cable guide.
Unitas More than 1 year ago
Hey rawlawltd, it's about the quality, you should know that by now.
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
As someone who had Albert Maximus on his horse of interest list after his first start, I became completely biased against him, even after Cerin took him over. I considered him the ultimate plodder, and by the time Cerin took over the training duties (only a few races ago), one would have thought his chances for improvement had passed. I certainly did. Barn changes, however, can change the trajectory of a horse's career, as we have all seen. And that was my error, failing to respect that, Vladimar Cerin is one of the good ones, and I knew that, yet these biases that horseplayers erect are stout, to say the least, and very hard to erase. A good horseplayer can adjust his thinking when the circumstances dictate. The time to play Maximus has probably come and gone, because it's the value that has now been erased, and I'm willing to trust my earlier opinion to the degree that his ability to improve under the best possible barn change has been maxed out. There's only one thing worse than missing a form reversal (as I did with Maximus under Cerin's care), and that's trying to bet the improved runner one race too late at a low price.
CuriousGeorge More than 1 year ago
Steve, or any others - How can I bet this race in New Jersey? Asiatic boy could be a strong underlay, and I really do like a few of the locals.
rawlawltd More than 1 year ago
Why are you guys wasting your time in the desert when there are 59 entrants spaced over 9 races to consider @ Aqueduct today??? One field of 5, 3 of 6, 4 of 7 & the nightcap a Md16K for 8 doesn't get the blood boiling??? You guys are always complaining!!!!!
El Angelo More than 1 year ago
Really looks on paper to be a 2-horse race between the experienced Asiatic Boy and the potential of Casino Drive. For the rest of the triple, it'd be best to toss the faves and try someone like Arson Squad or one of the Saudi horses to at least fetch a price.
beerbelly More than 1 year ago
A Youtube replay of Curlin's 2008 Dubai World Cup reveals Well Armed hugging the rail & setting the pace for 9 furlongs; flanked on the outside by Asiatic Boy & the mighty Curlin. At the top of the stretch Well Armed spurts to a big lead before being worn down by Curlin & nipped at the wire by Asiatic Boy. Flashforward to Saturday: Well Armed is drawn to the outside of Asiatic Boy; Curlin isn't there & Well Armed's broodmare sire & tale-female family is bred for the ormographic surface. The width of the Nad Al Sheba track(60 feet) precludes the possibility of deep closers exibiting any physical exuberance in deep stretch.