Updated on 09/17/2011 10:03PM

Roses in May's race to lose

Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins
Roses in May works under the lights at Nad Al Sheba in preparation for Saturday's Dubai World Cup.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Roses in May is a strong favorite to become the fifth American-based horse to win the $6 million at Nad Al Sheba racecourse on Saturday. A victory in this desert country, which borders Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf, would provide the world-class milestone missing from the career of Roses in May, a Grade 1 winner and earner of $1.8 million.

If Roses in May beats his 12 opponents, including three other American-based runners, he would join Cigar, Silver Charm, Captain Steve, and Pleasantly Perfect as winners from the United States.

"I think he can be of that caliber," trainer Dale Romans said.

Second to Ghostzapper in the 2004 Breeders' Cup Classic at Lone Star Park last October, Roses in May is not only the favorite, but is expected to dictate the strategy in the 1 1/4-mile Dubai World Cup.

Owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, Roses in May used his front-running style to win such races as the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap and Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Classic last year. Roses in May is expected to dispute the pace under John Velazquez on Saturday.

Roses in May breaks from post 12, wider than what Kenneth Ramsey would have preferred.

"He can set a fast pace and I think that's to his advantage," Ramsey said. "We thought the course would suit the horse's running style."

Roses in May faces a field that lacks the depth of past runnings. The other three American-based starters - Choctaw Nation, Congrats, and Lundy's Liability - are seeking their first wins at the Grade 1 or Group 1 level.

The other entrants include the Japanese star Adjudi Mitsuo; local stakes winners Chiquitin, Elmustanser, Jack Sullivan, and Yard-Arm; the Saudi Arabian invaders Dynever and King's Boy; and Grand Hombre and Ruler's Court, stakes winners in the United States in 2003 who are now based here and are considered longshots.

The World Cup is one of worth a total of $15 million to be run at Nad Al Sheba on Saturday. Post time for the World Cup is 9:20 p.m. local time and 12:20 p.m. Eastern.

Congrats was a fast-closing second to stablemate Rock Hard Ten in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 5. Trained by Richard Mandella, who won the 2004 Dubai World Cup with Pleasantly Perfect, Congrats has been impressive this week with a series of strong gallops.

"I think he's coming up to this level, and the last race showed that," Mandella said. "We'd have to run that race or better. What do we have to lose?"

Choctaw Nation was fourth last month in the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap, a seven-furlong race at Santa Anita, in his first start of 2004. The winner of the San Diego Handicap against Pleasantly Perfect last summer, Choctaw Nation is a closer with a remarkable late rally. He has never raced over a course like Nad Al Sheba, which has a three-furlong stretch.

"If he shows that kick, he has three-eighths to get it done and not a quarter-mile," trainer Jeff Mullins said. "I think the added distance will help."

Lundy's Liability is proven to like the course, having won the $2 million UAE Derby here last March. He joined trainer Bobby Frankel's stable a month later and has since won two major stakes, including the San Antonio Handicap last month.

Another horse with strong American connections is Dynever, who was third in the 2003 Breeders' Cup Classic. He will continue his career in Saudi Arabia after Saturday's race. The Dubai World Cup marks his final start for trainer Christophe Clement.

"I think he is a live outsider," Clement said.

They all must catch Roses in May, who is seeking his first win at 1 1/4 miles.

Thursday, Roses in May was nearly breezing at one point during a gallop. Romans said Roses in May reacted to a horse that ran past him. The brief episode caused only a moment of concern.

"He's sharp and ready to go," Romans said. "He gets like this when he's feeling good. I wish we were racing tonight. I couldn't be more pleased with him."

The field

Dubai World Cup
Purse: $6 million; 1 1/4 miles; Group 1
Nad Al Sheba racecourse

110Adjudi MitsuoH. Uchida40-1
211ChiquitinM. Kinane12-1
39Choctaw NationV. Espinoza8-1
47CongratsT. Baze5-1
513DyneverJ. Santos8-1
62ElmustanserR. Hills40-1
71Grand HombreSCRATCHED
84Jack SullivanD. Holland20-1
98King's BoyA. Gryder20-1
105Lundy's LiabilityP. Valenzuela10-1
1112Roses in MayJ. Velazquez5-2
126Ruler's CourtK. McEvoy40-1
133Yard-ArmW. Marwing10-1

* All starters carry 126 pounds
* Odds by Alan Shuback
* Post time: Saturday, 9:20 p.m. Dubai; 12:20 p.m., Eastern U.S.
* Television: Full card: HRTV, TVG 8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. Eastern
World Cup only: Fox Sports Net 2, Fox Sports NY, Fox Sports South, noon - 1 p.m. Eastern
Taped: World Cup & UAE Derby only ESPN, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Eastern