Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dubai World Cup Preview and Picks

After a fantastic Carnival season at Meydan, it's finally time for the prestigious Dubai World Cup meeting. Although this meeting is light on it's number of American participants, there are still a few who've made the trip from the States and, regardless, this looks to be an exciting race card filled with competitive races from top to bottom. 

Godolphin Mile (AW, about 8f):
Defending champion Soft Falling Rain is the superstar in this field and another win from him wouldn't surprise. He'll improve off of his ninth place showing last time out, but I'm not sure that will be enough to get it done in this spot and at what will be a short price, I'll pass. On form, the ever consistent Variety Club would've surely been his primary competition, but he drew an absolutely brutal post and that will be tough to overcome. Ultimately, I'm going to side with Shuruq, who won the Burj Nahaar, which is a primary prep for this race. She won twice at this distance this year at Meydan and her only poor run this year was when she gave it a go on the turf.

Pick: Shuruq to win

Dubai Gold Cup (Turf, about 16f):
Simenon will make his second start of the season after finishing fifth in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy, and while I wouldn't be incredibly concerned about his draw if you're a fan of last year's fourth place finisher in the Melbourne Cup, personally, I'm not sure he's good enough to beat defending champion Cavalryman. He my be eight-years-old, but this son of double Eclipse and International Stakes winner Halling looked fit and ready when winning the Nad Al Sheba and there is no reason to think he won't improve off of that effort.

Pick: Cavalryman to win

UAE Derby (AW, about 9.5f):
Although Long John seems to be the talk of the town following his big win over Emirates Flyer last month. For me, this one is all about the Aidan O'Brien trained Giovanni Boldini, who most recently finished second behind Outstrip in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Last year, O'Brien took another War Front in Lines of Battle and made the BC Juv Turf to UAE Derby work splendidly. He finished just behind two of the best two-year-olds around in Outstrip and Toormore in his two starts that he didn't win last year and to me, he's the obvious choice given his form and his trainer's record in this race.

Pick: Giovanni Boldini to win

Al Quoz Sprint (Turf, about 5f):
Defending champion Shea Shea looks incredibly tough in this spot. He won the Meydan Sprint over Ahtoug in what was his first start in over six months last time out and he's one of the best there is on turf at this distance.

Pick: Shea Shea to win

Dubai Golden Shaheen (AW, about 6f):
It's hard for me to see past the market leaders, Rich Tapestry and Sterling City, both of whom have primarily run on the turf at Sha Tin. There's little doubt that Sterling City is the more talented and consistent of the two, but Rich Tapestry is proven over course and distance and for that reason, he gets the nod.

Pick: Rich Tapestry to win

Dubai Duty Free (Turf, about 9f):
While Dank and The Fugue may be more well-known to us in America, Just A Way is the one to watch here. Not only is he incredibly consistent against top competition back home in Japan, but he appears to be entering here on top form after most recently winning the Nakayama Kinen with style.

Pick: Just A Way to win

Dubai Sheema Classic (Turf, about 12f):
From a handicapping perspective, this race is a mess. It looks to be quite a competitive contest, but several of the top contenders are drawn out wide, which makes it tough to decide who will ultimately get the win. Gentildonna finished second behind the dearly departed St. Nicholas Abbey in this race last year, but she has not ran nearly as well since then and she finished a disappointing sixth in her prep race last month. Cirrus Des Aigles drew stall fifteen, which all but seals his fate. Breeders' Cup Turf winner Magician was one of the only favorites who survived the draw, but why go with him at a short price, when fellow BC Turf runner Twilight Eclipse will likely be a massive price. Although he finished sixth (2 1/4 lengths behind Magician) in that race, his run was much better than it looks on paper. Entering into the far turn, Twilight Eclipse was running just inside of Magician, but running room was a bit tough to find and it wasn't until he shifted to the outside behind Magician about halfway down the stretch that he started to close like a freight train and appeared to finish the strongest of everyone save the winner. Since then, Twilight Eclipse has done nothing but win and he does hold a recency edge over top competitors Denim and Ruby and the aforementioned Magician. Typically, taking American horses on the turf versus international fields is a bad idea, but this may very well be the perfect setup for one of our own to finish on top.

Pick: Twilight Eclipse e/w

Dubai World Cup (AW, about 10f):
His post isn't ideal, but with a few of the big guns including Ruler of the World and Red Cadeaux also being drawn wide, the thirteen stall may turn out to not be as bad for Mukhadram as one would think. Last season, he was competitive against some of the best in England, having finished only a neck behind Al Kazeem in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot and he backed that up with a third behind Al Kazeem and Declaration of War at Sandown, and a win over Grandeur and Arlington Million runner-up (after DQ) The Apache at York. His only disappointing showing was his most recent start, which was in the Champion Stakes at Ascot, but that was over soft ground, on which he does not do his best running. The only question is whether or not he'll take to the Tapeta, having only run on turf to this point, but progeny of Shamardal have historically done very well on the all weather. Chief threats could be Akeed Mofeed and Military Attack, but they have also only run on turf to this point and I'm not nearly as high on their chances to carry their turf form to the all weather. Ruler of the World is perhaps the most talented in this field, but he probably wants further and he is another one who is unproven on this surface.

Pick: Mukhadram e/w




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