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Dubai World Cup card analysis
DUBAI WORLD CUP
The Americans - Brass Hat, Super Frolic, Magna Graduate, Choctaw Nation and Wilko - are Grade 2 types with only Brass Hat ever having beaten older horses in a Grade 1 race. He is better in the slop, so perhaps fast-ground-loving SUPER FROLIC or Magna Graduate will fly the Stars and Stripes. There are, however, two impediments to an American success.
ELECTROCUTIONIST suggested that he is at least as good on dirt as turf when he slammed 13 outclassed rivals in Round 3 of the Group 2 Maktoum Challenge. Winner of the 1 5/16-mile Group 1 Juddmonte International on turf last summer, he is a strong-bodied type with tracking speed and is a deserving favorite, although his connections are concerned about his rail draw.
KANE HEKILI arrives in Dubai seeking to confirm his credentials as Japan's best ever dirt performer. Eight-for-nine on dirt at home, he was 17 1/4 lengths in front of a medication-free Lava Man when winning the Japan Cup Dirt in November and looked better than ever when taking the Grade 1 February Stakes last month over an inadequate mile. He will relish the additional distance on Saturday as well as the long Nad Al Sheba stretch, and is the selection to break the U.S.-Godolphin World Cup stranglehold.
DUBAI DUTY FREE
This is the best betting contest of the night, and the favorite could be as high as 6-1 with any one of 12 or 13 of the 16 runners coming as no surprise in the winner's circle.
Second in this last year, Whilly will have difficulty doing as well again. The Tin Man, however, has never been better. The San Marcos winner, The Tin Man is, however, just one of a dozen Group 1 or Grade 1 winners in the race and must go without his usual helping of Lasix and Bute.
The Hong Kong invaders, BULLISH LUCK and Russian Pearl, have drawn unfortunately wide in 15 and 16. Nevertheless, the late-running Bullish Luck could be the value. He won a Group 1 mile in Sha Tin in 1:33.70 last May. Hat Trick, a stablemate of Kane Hekili, failed in soft going last time but should do better on firm ground. Asakusa Den'en worked four furlongs in 46.75 on turf Wednesday, clocking 21.86 for the last quarter. David Junior, winner of the 1 1/4-mile Group 1 Champion Stakes, prefers some give in the ground.
TOUCH OF LAND and Linngari are Group 2 winners on the Nad Al Sheba turf this winter but are facing tougher. A real danger is the South African filly Irridescence. Like the 2003 Duty Free winner Ipi Tombe, she is owned by Team Valor and is the winner of the course and distance Balanchine Stakes. If Bullish Luck can't get there in time, IRRIDESCENCE, a two-time Group 1 winner in her native land, might be able to from her ideal post 6.
DUBAI SHEEMA CLASSIC
OUIJA BOARD is the likely favorite in a not particularly daunting affair. The 2004 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf champ, she was a sharp winner of the 1 1/2-mile Group 1 Hong Kong Vase against males on Dec. 11. Her two main rivals, HEART'S CRY and RELAXED GESTURE, drew badly in 13 and 14, but Ouija Board has always needed a race or two before reaching peak form. Can Relaxed Gesture win off a five-month absence from the wide outside? Probably not, but he should be used in the exotics. Heart's Cry was an unlucky second in the Japan Cup but beat Japanese Horse of the Year Deep Impact in the Grade 1 Arima Kinen on Dec. 25. The 127 Timeform ratings he earned in those two efforts are the best in the race by three pounds. Heart's Cry could contribute to a very big day for Japan.
DUBAI GOLDEN SHAHEEN
American-trained horses have won five of the last six runnings of this straight six-furlong sprint but, as in the World Cup, our best have stayed home this year. The Grade 1 Ancient Title winner Captain Squire prepared oddly for this, failing to win while going a mile and 1 1/8 miles on turf. He will also do without his usual dose of Lasix and Bute, as will Jet West, Proud Tower Too and Thor's Echo, who failed to beat Cal-breds in three of his last four outings. The improving GAFF appears to be on the brink of something big. His tracking speed stands him in good stead and he rates ahead of local hope TROPICAL STAR, who was second in this last year and who won a Group 3 course and distance prep, but they must all contend with the hot Brazilian raider HEART ALONE.
Trained by Antonio Cintra Pereira to win Brazil's best turf sprint, the Group 1 Grande Premio Major Suckow, Heart Alone produced a sensational effort to win the Group 3 Al Shindhaga Sprint by 3 3/4 lengths while spotting all of his 13 rivals six pounds. Freshened since then, he is the choice to defeat Gaff and Tropical Star at equal weights.
Godolphin will use this as a Kentucky Derby trial for DISCREET CAT, whose 3 1/2-length maiden score at Saratoga on Aug. 27 earned a 106 Beyer figure, the highest awarded to any juvenile in 2005. He returned from a 6 1/2-month hiatus to thrash six inferior foes in a one-mile allowance on March 9 and would be a heavy favorite were it not for a pair of South American imports who are trained in Saudi Arabia by Englishman and ex-Santa Anita habitue Ian Jory.
Argentine 2000 Guineas winner GOLD FOR SALE gave his Northern Hemiphere 3-year-old rivals nine pounds and a half-length beating when taking the UAE 2000 Guineas despite a rough trip. He would rate a favorite's chance but for his Chilean-bred stablemate SIMPATICO BRIBON, who was seriously considered for the Dubai World Cup before Jory settled on this easier spot.
Simpatico Bribon has always beaten Gold for Sale in the morning, and on March 2 he beat many of the UAE Guineas losers by six lengths while spotting the Northern Hemisphere 3-year-olds between 14 and 16 pounds. In this race he gives them just pounds. Bet against him at your own risk.
Neither of the last two tries by American raiders Shamoan and Island Fashion would be good enough to win this Group 2 mile, which boils down to three major contenders. MARBUSH whistled in the Godolphin Mile course and distance prep and must be used in the exotics, but he has never faced the likes of JACK SULLIVAN or Blatant, who finished one-two in Round 2 of the Maktoum Challenge and who should make up the favored exacta. Japan's UTOPIA is dangerous but has drawn the rail, a disadvantage on the Nad Al Sheba dirt track.