Updated on 09/17/2011 10:10AM

Harlan's Holiday stuck outside


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - The tactical speed that Harlan's Holiday used to best advantage to win the Donn Handicap last month will be severely tested Saturday night in the world's richest race, the $6 million Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba.

On Wednesday, Harlan's Holiday drew post 10 in a field of 11 for the World Cup, run over 1 1/4 miles on Nad Al Sheba's triangular dirt course. John Velazquez, who was scheduled to arrive in Dubai Thursday to ride Harlan's Holiday, will have his work cut out to get the 4-year-old Harlan colt to his favored close-up position. One of his main rivals, Moon Ballad, is on his outside in post 11.

This will be the eighth running of the World Cup program in the tiny emirate of Dubai on the southeastern shore of the Persian Gulf. With $15.25 million in purses at stake in six races for Thoroughbreds, it is the world's richest day of racing and a showcase for Dubai's ruling family, the Maktoums, who own the powerful Godolphin stable. This year, the races will be held in the shadow of the war in Iraq, less than 500 miles away, northwest across the Gulf.

Moon Ballad is felt by Godolphin to be its best chance for a fifth victory in the World Cup. Moon Ballad, to be ridden by Frankie Dettori, will be joined by stablemate Grandera, who drew post 9 after a so-so five-furlong breeze at Godolphin's training base, Al Quoz, on Wednesday morning.

Grandera has a mind of his own and he showed it as he refused to settle at any time during the move, allowing his unheralded stablemate Mill Street to inch by him near the line. Godolphin spokesman Simon Crisford discounted Grandera's antics. "He's always like that," Crisford said with a laugh.

Nayef, the British bookies' World Cup favorite at 13-8 (approximately 8-5), drew well in post 7.

As for Harlan's Holiday, he must overcome his unfortunate draw and his 0-for-4 record at 10 furlongs.

South African trainer Mike de Kock looked like he had just swallowed a canary after Dubai's most talked about filly, Ipi Tombe, drew ideally in post 3 in the 1 1/8-mile Dubai Duty Free on turf.

"I would like to see her sitting in third," said de Kock, the former trainer of Horse Chestnut and Spook Express, with as co-owner Barry Irwin of Team Valor stood at his side. "Then she'll be in position to strike."

Ipi Tombe, whose name means "where the girls are" in Zulu, could be challenged by Imtiyaz, who drew the post 5 after a sharp five-furlong breeze at Al Quoz on Wednesday morning.

Xtra Heat and Avanzado, two of the leading contenders in the Dubai Golden Shaheen, will keep each other company along the far rail as they drew posts 1 and 2 in the six-furlong race, run on a straightaway.

"I'm not concerned," Avanzado's trainer, Doug O'Neill, said about his draw. "I would rather be someplace in the middle, but he's had experience running on straight courses in Argentina."

Xtra Heat, however, will be forced to use her speed early or face possible entrapment on the rail. The other two Americans in the Golden Shaheen, My Cousin Matt and Captain Squire, will start in posts 9 and 11 in the 13-runner field.

Even Coral Eurobet admits that the four Americans could lay over their Arab and European foes. The bookmaker lists them as the first four choices with Xtra Heat 15-8 (approximately 9-5), Captain Squire 7-2, Avanzado 6-1, and My Cousin Matt 8-1.

Godolphin's latest Kentucky Derby hope, Inamorato, will be a strong favorite in the 1 1/4-mile UAE Derby, which at $2 million is the world's most valuable derby. But Crisford sounded a note of caution.

"Inamorato must win Saturday night to earn a place in the Kentucky Derby," he said. "He is potentially a very high-class horse but he must show us the necessary improvement."

Inamorato will break from a perfect spot, post 5, in a field of 15, which includes Outta Here, who will have to get out of his rail draw alertly or face severe traffic problems. This is his first start since Dec. 21, when he won the Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs.

The draw should not be a factor in the Dubai Sheema Classic, a Group 1, 1 1/2-mile race that could be the best race on the card. Sulamani, Ange Gabriel, Boreal, and Morshdi are all Group 1 winners at the distance, and there are five group race winners in the 16-horse field.

Grey Memo will start from post 5 in defense of his Godolphin Mile title but Easyfromthegitgo, perhaps his main rival for the $600,000 first prize in the Group 2 race, must contend with post 15. Only Equerry, a three-time Group 3 winner on turf, drew wider.