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Dubai World Cup picks and race-by-race analysis
Meydan Racecourse's nine race Dubai World Cup card, with its eight Group stakes worth a combined $27 million, has blossomed into a global racing event.
Saturday's proceedings kick off with the $250,000 Dubai Kahayla Classic, a 2000 meter Group 1 race for Arabians.
Thoroughbreds take over for the remainder with the running of the 9:10am EST $1,000,000 Group 2 Godolphin Mile, a one turn event conducted on the synthetic Tapeta surface. Godolphin's own African Story, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, commands favoritism after an authoritative four length win in the March 10th course and distance prep for this. Frankie Dettori, who is 2 for 2 aboard African Story, retains the mount.
Of the others, Western Aristocrat, victorious in last October's Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park, broke the one mile track record over the London area's Kempton Polytrack last September. Do It All, formerly trained in the U.S. by Eoin Harty, won the Group 2 Zabeel Mile on Meydan's turf course March 1st. His renewed vigor could continue on Tapeta as Do It All won on synthetics at Keeneland, Golden Gate and Del Mar in his native country.
The emphasis is on stamina in the 9:45am EST $1,000,000 Group 3 Dubai Gold Cup, a two mile turf race. The test could develop into a showdown between local stayers Opinion Poll, an ultra-consistent sort who is proven at the distance, and Fox Hunt, the in form winner of the March 1st Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy over 1 3/4 miles.
Of the others, the improving British invader Barbican and Mikhail Glinka, victorious in the March 10th Group 2 Dubai City Of Gold here, have both shown their best over 12 furlongs but the extra half mile of the Gold Cup could prove advantageous.
The Group 2 $2,000,000 UAE Derby drew a contentious field of 14 and the 1 3/16th mile Tapeta race has a scheduled post time of 10:25am EST. Ireland's classy Wrote, last seen winning the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf (Watch Replay) November 5th, switches surfaces for his sophomore debut and will likely vie for favoritism with Mickdaam, who scored in the March 10th course and distance Al Bastakiya.
Trainer Graham Motion sends over Lucky Chappy, who was beaten a nose by subsequent Sunland Derby winner Daddy Nose Best in Golden Gate's February 19th El Camino Real Derby. Notably, Argentina's dominant filly Balada Sale and Godolphin's Australian transplant Helmet were foaled in the Fall of 2008 and, as Southern Hemisphere-breds, could have an advantage in maturity.
Group 1 action commences at 11:00am EST with the running of the $1,000,000 Al Quoz Sprint, a five furlong turf dash up Meydan's straightaway course.
Margot Did, the England-based filly who won York's prestigious Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes last August, had her prep here in the March 10th Meydan Sprint and is expected to blaze a trail up the stand's side rail under Hayley Turner.
Regally Ready, the 2011 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint champ, faded to 13th in the Meydan Sprint and must reverse his form under regular pilot Corey Nakatani. Nine year old Joy And Fun arrives in stellar form from Singapore but has to prove that five furlongs is optimal. South African-bred Nocturnal Affair has arguably the best local form and rates a chance in this wide open heat.
Next, the sprinters head to the Tapeta for the 11:35am EST Group 1 $2,000,000 Dubai Golden Shaheen, a six furlong race with one turn.
The Factor, who has been in sparkling form over Santa Anita's dirt at seven furlongs, must prove he is as effective over the shorter trip. Even if he is, defending champ Rocket Man, who swamped the Bob Baffert-trained Euroears last March, has returned from Singapore with a convincing prep race under his belt.
Amongst the others in the field of 12, Australian phenom Sepoy, whose 10 for 12 career has been overshadowed by Black Caviar's exploits, and Krypton Factor, who has gone from strength to strength during the Carnival, merit further inspection.
The Group 1 $5,000,000 Dubai Duty Free, a 1 1/8th mile turf race, drew a full field of 16 and is set for a 12:25pm EST post.
Ambitious Dragon, impressive winner of Sha Tin's February 26th Group 1 Hong Kong Gold Cup, brings the best form to the race but, like Japan's highly regarded Dark Shadow, is unproven outside of his home base.
Musir and Mutahadee, both conditioned locally by Mike De Kock, like this turf course but may fall short at the Group 1 level. Defending champ Presvis must prove that his late rally is still potent at age eight. Fellow deep closer Wigmore Hall is rounding into form and the other Hong Kong-based competitors California Memory and Xtension are hard to ignore.
Action remains on the turf course for the 1:00pm EST Group 1 $5,000,000 Dubai Sheema Classic, featuring a select group of ten going just over 1 1/2 miles.
The anticipated clash between France's Cirrus Des Aigles, winner of Ascot's Group 1 Champion Stakes last October, and Ireland's St Nicholas Abbey, the 2011 Breeders' Cup Turf victor, is enticing.
Treasure Beach, the stable mate of St Nicholas Abbey who won the 2011 Irish Derby, and the undefeated 3 for 3 English hope Beaten Up could both be on the rise and are capable of defeating the top pair.
The Carnival concludes at 1:40pm EST with the Group 1 $10,000,000 Dubai World Cup, a 1 1/4 mile race over the Tapeta surface.
Seven year old Smart Falcon has won his last nine races under jockey Yutaka Take and bids to emulate fellow Japanese star Victoire Pisa, the 2011 Dubai World Cup champ.
So You Think, trained in Ireland by Aidan O'Brien, was kept in training as a six year old for this race following a lackluster effort when 6th in the 2011 Breeders' Cup Classic. Game On Dude, the Baffert trainee partnered by Chantal Sutherland, was a game second in the Classic and should be advantaged by his tactical speed.
Champion American filly Royal Delta must regain the smart form she showed when taking the 2011 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic to factor. The versatile Master Of Hounds has had a good local campaign and De Kock has him primed for a career best.
Selections (Meydan Racecourse, March 31st):
Race 2 (9:10am EST, Godolphin Mile)--
1st #4 African Story--Proven commodity kicks it off for favorite backers;
2nd #11 Do It All--Bold front runner may prove difficult to reel in;
3rd #13 Viscount Nelson--Could threaten if able to rally on new surface.
Race 3 (9:45am EST, Dubai Gold Cup)--
1st #10 Opinion Poll--The choice of Frankie Dettori with the best form over marathon distance;
2nd #11 Fox Hunt--In fine fettle and acquitted himself well when 7th in 2011 Melbourne Cup;
3rd #13 Kasbah Bliss--10 year old set to pick up the pieces following March 1st tightener;
Race 4 (10:25am EST, UAE Derby)--
1st #4 Balada Sale--Argentinian filly goes out on a mission;
2nd #8 Yang Tse Kiang--Improving French gelding fired on Chantilly's Poly March 6th;
3rd #6 Mickdaam--Looked capable when sweeping home in March 10th prep.
Race 5 (11:00am EST, Al Quoz Sprint)--
1st #16 Margot Did--Quick British filly streaks up near side rail;
2nd #11 Eagle Regiment--Hong Kong-based sprinter returns to preferred distance;
3rd #6 Joy And Fun--Admirable veteran gets going too late.
Race 6 (11:35am EST, Dubai Golden Shaheen)--
1st #1 Rocket Man--Defending champ returns in peak form;
2nd #9 Sepoy--Australian invader is more than capable with best effort;
3rd #11 Soul--Australian transplant has improved here and tries Tapeta.
Race 7 (12:25pm EST, Dubai Duty Free)--
1st #10 Mutahadee--Has flashed brilliance during this year's Carnival;
2nd #12 Presvis--Popular veteran pointing to this since last year's triumph;
3rd #4 Ambitious Dragon--The pride and joy of Sha Tin set to prove he can travel.
Race 8 (1:00pm EST, Dubai Sheema Classic)--
1st #6 Treasure Beach--Return to quick ground provides rich solution;
2nd #8 Cirrus Des Aigles--Honest, durable and talented;
3rd #2 Bold Silvano--May put it all together finally at generous odds.
Race 9 (1:40pm EST, Dubai World Cup)--
1st #13 Zazou--Rising German star showed affinity for synthetic surfaces at Chantilly March 3rd;
2nd #4 Master Of Hounds--Expect bold bid from well-travelled improver;
3rd #3 Game On Dude--Determined sort should be in the thick of it.
"Dirt Horses Need Not Apply"
Great analysis by Bob Nastanovich!A true devotee and expert on racing worldwide!