Dubai Carnival Picks for Thursday, January 30, 2014

DUBAL Excellence Trophy (Race 1):
The Charlie Appleby-trained Ahtoug stands out to me after his win in the Carnival opener, in what was his first start off a five month layoff. Not only did he close well in that race, but he did it when the pace quickened whilst others, a few of whom reappear here, faded badly. Barzalona retains the mount on a horse whose five career wins have all come at this distance. Another to consider is Abstraction, who has not ran since August, but did finish just one length behind the then red hot Dutch Masterpiece in the Flying Five. Prior to that, he finished third behind Russian Soul, which isn't bad form considering Russian Soul lost by just a neck to United Color here two weeks back. At double digit odds, he'd definitely be worth an each way shout.
Pick: Ahtoug to win, Abstraction e/w 

DUBAL Billet Trophy (Race 2):
The worthy favorite here is String Theory, who enters here off of two straight wins on the All-Weather in the UK, the most recent of which was a rather easy win at today's distance. He carries less weight here and Frankie Dettori will get the mount. One to keep an eye on is Clon Brulee. Although he only has one win in his last five starts, his last run was much better than it looks on paper. He was wide throughout and attempted to close into a slow pace and had to settle for sixth. It's also worth noting that both the second and fifth place finishers from that race went on to lose by only a head next time out. It was a good first run on the Meydan Tapeta and I expect him to move forward off that effort. Others I'll be keeping an eye on are Intrigo, who finished a good third in the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise and will be stretching out here, and Rebel Song, who was nipped at the end of his two most recent efforts.
Pick: Clon Brulee to win

Cape Verdi Sponsored By DUBAL (Race 3):
Godolphin is well represented with two runners here. The highly regarded daughter of Elusive Quality, Certify is undefeated in four starts, one of which was over Sky Lantern at Newmarket. She, however, was one of the horses who was suspended as a result of the steroids scandal and consequently hasn't run since September 2012.  The American-bred Shuruq, enters this off a nice win against the boys in round one of the Al Maktoum Challenge, but that race was on the Tapeta. My choice is Flotilla, who has simply ran against much tougher than these. In 2012, she won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and her three runs since have all been in Grade 1 races in France.
Pick: Flotilla to win

DUBAL Casthouse Trophy (Race 4):
The Mike de Kock trained Zahee is my choice in what I don't think is a very deep race. Having not ran since March, Zahee's most recent finish was sixth behind the horse formerly named Lines of Battle in the UAE Derby. He has plenty of experience at Meydan and although he hasn't won, two respectable finishes behind Soft Falling Rain is plenty impressive to me. After a season at Meydan under his belt, he figures to improve in his spot, which he'll need to do in order to beat Tamarkuz, a son of Speightstown out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare who is undefeated in three runs on the All-Weather.
Pick: Zahee to win

Al Rashidiya Sponsored by DUBAL (Race 5):
I fear he may need the run coming off of a four month layoff, but I'm still going with Trade Storm. He twice won at Meydan last year, including a one and a half length victory in the G2 Zabeel Mile. He most recently ran third in the Woodbine Mine, arguably Wise Dan's most impressive run of the year, and it's worth noting the top two finishers in that race again ran one-two in the Breeders' Cup Mile.
Pick: Trade Storm e/w

DUBAL Potlines Trophy (Race 6):
I went with Haafaguinea last time out and after his second place finish behind the ultra-impressive Cat O'Mountain, there's no reason not to stay with him, especially considering he'll be carrying less weight here. Although he took to the Tapeta just fine, he'll switch back to his preferred surface and the cutback in distance should suit him. His odds won't be great though, so another worth considering is Busker. This son of Street Cry enters this race having won three of his last five, the most recent of which was over the Tapeta earlier this month. Ottoman Empire and Clon Brulee, who run earlier on in the card, both exit that race, so their finishes will likely give us more of an insight into the strength of that race. The surface switch is questionable for Busker, but he's worth an each way play.
Pick: Haafaguinea to win, Busker e/w

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