03/28/2012 11:09AM

Dubai World Cup lures field of 14; Royal Delta gets choice of posts, Game On Dude picks last

Dave Harmon
Game On Dude, shown training on Wednesday, was assigned post 14 when the Dubai World Cup was drawn.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Still hospitalized following a heart attack, trainer Bob Baffert was unable to attend Wednesday’s post-position draw for Saturday night’s $10 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan.

As it turned out, his presence was not required.

Post 14 was the only one remaining for the connections of Game On Dude when starting positions were selected for the World Cup, the centerpiece of a nine-race card with purses totaling $27.2 million.

While Baffert and his team had no choice, trainer Bill Mott had the first choice and selected post 7 for Royal Delta, America’s reigning 3-year-old champion filly who will attempt to become the first female to win the World Cup in this, its 17 running.

Mott said post 7 was exactly the one he told owner Benjamin Leon at breakfast Wednesday morning he preferred.

“We got the number we wanted and I just hope it works out,” said Mott, who won the inaugural World Cup in 1996 with Cigar, after the draw. “It’s the middle of the field and we’re not going to be trapped down on the fence early and we’re not going to be hung out wide early. I hope she can place herself well and get herself into a good stalking position.”

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Following the draw, the U.K. bookmaker Coral lowered its pre-draw odds on probable favorite So You Think from 3-1 to 5-2 while raising Game On Dude’s price from 6-1 to 8-1. The Japanese-bred Smart Falcon, winner of nine straight races, is the 5-1 second choice. He landed post 5.

The post-position draw, held in the spacious IMAX Theatre at Meydan, was conducted in a two-tiered system, similar to the one that Churchill Downs employed for the Kentucky Derby from 1998-2009 before returning to a traditional blind draw two years ago.

Fourteen dice with the names of the horses were placed into a barrel. Representatives of Emirates Air, the sponsor of the World Cup, randomly selected the dice from the barrel. Track announcer and draw host Terry Spargo announced the horse’s name and a representative from that horse’s camp had 60 seconds to select a post.

Fittingly perhaps, the names of Transcend and Monterosso, the second- and third-place finishers, respectively, from last year’s World Cup, had the second and third selections. Transcend wound up in post 10 while Monterosso’s connections took post 8.

The connections of So You Think had the fourth choice and with trainer Aidan O’Brien on the other end of the phone from Ireland, stable representative Keith Dalton chose post 4 for the eight-time Group 1 winner who has not started since running sixth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic last Nov. 5.

“It should do, as long as he breaks well,” Dalton said. “We’re just hoping to get a good position.”

So You Think, who wore blinkers in the Classic, will remove them for this race. Joseph O’Brien, Aidan’s son, rides So You Think.

Part-owner Bernie Schiappa used sentimental reasoning to explain why he thought post 14 was a “perfect position” for Game On Dude, who has enough early speed not to get caught wide entering the first turn.

“Our dearest friend,” Schiappa said, referring to part-owner Terry Lanni, “passed away last year and his birthday was March 14.”

Chantal Sutherland, the rider of Game On Dude making her Dubai debut, said she was on the phone with Baffert, who watched the pos- position draw on television from his hospital suite. When there was posts 1 and 14 remaining, Sutherland said Baffert told her he’d prefer 14.

That became open when the connections of Master of Hounds, who ran fifth in last year’s Kentucky Derby, chose the rail.

“It gives us options,” Sutherland said. “Game On Dude has a tendency to break good some times and break not so good, so I think that’s keeping us out of trouble.”

Capponi, who has won his last two – and was disqualified from a win three back – over this surface, including a four-length victory in the Al Maktoum Challenge here on March 10, drew post 11.

The World Cup will go postward at 1:40 p.m. Eastern and is the last race on a card that begins at 8:30 a.m.