A full field of Dubai World Cup aspirants headlines the first racing program of the 2022 Dubai World Cup Carnival, which begins Friday at Meydan Racecourse and culminates with the Dubai World Cup card on March 26.The Group 2, $250,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 drew 14 entrants, and while it&rsquo;s rare for a Dubai race in January to yield true World Cup contenders, this is a solid, competitive bunch on a card that drew 73 horses in six Thoroughbred races. The program (live video and wagering at DRFBets.com) commences at 9 a.m. Eastern with a purebred Arabian race. Carnival cards historically have been held on Thursday but the seven weekday programs in 2022 will be run on Fridays. Super Saturday, filled with World Cup prep races, comes March 5. The Carnival, sans World Cup night, offers more than $7.5 million in purses, while World Cup card purses top $30 million this year, all races worth more than $1 million after COVID&#45;19 motivated cuts in 2021. The World Cup purse is $12 million. One prominent American horse, Hot Rod Charlie, already is aimed at the World Cup and will ship to Dubai along with several other Doug O&rsquo;Neill&#45;trained horses on Jan. 17. Hot Rod Charlie preps for the World Cup in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 on Feb. 4. O&rsquo;Neill, a regular participant in World Cup races the last several years, ran a Dubai string during the 2020 World Cup Carnival. Frankie Dettori, William Buick, James Doyle, and Mickael Barzalona have Meydan mounts Friday. Buick&rsquo;s ride in the featured Maktoum Challenge Round 1, a one&#45;turn, 1,600&#45;meter dirt contest, is the lightly raced Kafoo, a 4&#45;year&#45;old colt who has started his career with a pair of dirt wins this Dubai racing season. Kafoo is by Curlin and is the fifth foal to race from six&#45;time Grade 1&#45;winner Blind Luck, whose offspring have struggled on the track.Kafoo&rsquo;s trainer is Bhupat Seemar, who, in December, was elevated from assistant to take over, at least temporarily, the yard of trainer Satish Seemar. In December, Seemar appeared on the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control list and consequently was suspended by the Emirates Racing Authority. Seemar was placed on the list as an associate of Ramzan Kadyrov, president of the Chechen Republic, for whom Seemar trained the gelding North America. Seemar, six&#45;time leading trainer in Dubai, said in a statement that North America was no longer in Dubai and that he expected his suspension to be lifted.Bhupat Seemar entered four others in the feature. Nine&#45;year&#45;old Secret Ambition last saw action in March, when he won the Godolphin Mile, but Secret Ambition, based on his performances over the last five years, likely will need this comeback race. Avant Garde, trained at the time by Gustavo Delgado, finished third in the Godolphin Mile and makes his first start for Seemar and his new Dubai&#45;based owner. Five&#45;year&#45;old Imperial Empire has won two in a row this winter, defeating Seemar&#45;trained stablemate Kimbear, among others, in a Dec. 23 conditions race. Eight&#45;year&#45;old Kimbear won the 2019 Maktoum Challenge Round 1 but is not close to the same horse now. Trainer Doug Watson entered three; Thegreatcollection, Midnight Sands, and Golden Goal, all of whom have a reasonable chance. Hypothetical, trained by Salem bin Ghadayer, and Salute the Soldier, who starts for Fawzi Nass, led the Dubai&#45;based runners in the 2021 World Cup, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.Also carded is the Group 2, $180,000 Cape Verdi Stakes for fillies and mares over 1,600 meters on turf. Soft Whisper, Dettori riding for Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor, should be formidable.