03/24/2009 11:00PM

Little drama for top horses at draw


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - None of the top contenders even had to stifle a cringe at the Dubai World Cup post position draw Wednesday night. Trainer Mike De Kock sought post 5 for Asiatic Boy and got 6. Can't complain about that. Well Armed is well enough armed in post position 7. And trainer Kiaran McLaughlin wanted to be somewhere not too far outside, but outside of Well Armed; he got his wish, when Albertus Maximus was assigned post position 10.

In all, a field of 14 was assigned post positions for the $6 million World Cup. The draw, as usual, was held at the Al Joharah Ballroom of the Madinat Jumeirah Hotel, and also as usual, featured globes, lights, computer-generated racing-office wizardry, and Emirates Air Lines flight attendants. Those last were responsible for spinning round blue-lighted globes with a World Cup entrant's name affixed to the back. The name was read aloud once spun, a representative for the horse was called to the stage, and the person was led to an array of 14 black and gold boxes, each of which had a number inside. Meanwhile, video of the horse in question played on a screen in the background, and this much was made clear as posts were assigned to Saudi Arabian-based Joe Louis, Muller, and Paris Perfect: Saudi race callers are the most vociferous in the world.

The only real suspense in the proceedings came when McLaughlin walked forward after Albertus Maximus's globe had come up. Just four posts remained unfilled: 1, 5, 10, and 12. No. 5 would have put Albertus Maximus inside Well Armed, and McLaughlin wants Albertus Maximus to track the likely pacesetter from the outside. A rail draw going 2,000 meters at Nad Al Sheba is not good at all.

"We did not want the 1 hole at all," McLaughlin said. "I'm happy with where we drew."

Draw fortune did not smile upon Godolphin, however, with My Indy - a two-time winner this winter in Dubai - marooned out in post 14. Breeders' Cup Marathon winner Muhannak got stuck with the rail after breaking from post 16 in his World Cup prep here. As for the other Americans, Arson Squad drew post 2 and Anak Nakal post 12. The Japanese colt Casino Drive is well positioned in post 8.

A total of 75 horses were entered in the night's six Thoroughbred races, which are worth a combined $21 million. The Golden Shaheen, the UAE Derby, and the Godolphin Mile had been drawn Wednesday afternoon. Posts for the two $5 million turf races, the Duty Free over about nine furlongs and the Sheema Classic at about 1 1/2 miles, were generated by a computer before the World Cup Draw. Fifteen horses were entered in the Sheema Classic, while the 16-horse Duty Free field includes 10 Group 1 winners.

Post and trip will make the race in the Duty Free, and defending champion Jay Peg was one of the unlucky ones, landing post 15. The only horse outside him is the improving Luca Cumani-trained Presvis. So disappointed was trainer Richard Shannon with Paco Boy's draw of post 13 in the Duty Free that he left the ballroom before he could be interviewed by one of the event's hosts. Better off than Paco Boy are Vodka (post 3), Kip Deville (post 7), and Archipenko (post 10).

De Kock's three horses for the Sheema Classic all landed inside draws, with the filly Front House faring best of all on the rail. Russian Sage (whose long-term goal is the Arlington Million, according to Team Valor principal Barry Irwin) has post 3, with King of Rome in the 5. Multimillionaire Youmzain drew well in post 6, but Doctor Dino, another rich world traveler, is less well off in post 13.