Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dubai World Cup Night Early Thoughts

The probables for the entire card are out and while some slight changes to the fields are still possible. Below are my thoughts on what I consider to be the most appealing antepost prices (in the UK) at the moment.

Al Quoz Sprint
Easily one of the strongest races on the card, the Al Quoz Sprint features Champion Sprinter Sole Power in addition to rising Hong Kong star Peniaphobia, his countryman and defending champion Amber Sky, and intriguing American additions Distinctiv Passion and Green Mask. Sole Power has struggled over this five furlong trip at Meydan in recent years and while he was always going to need a race when running in the Group 3 Meydan Sprint two weeks back, he looked uncomfortable throughout that run -- holding his head up high, struggling to quicken when asked, and running a tad erratically in the closing stages. He's tough to back off that performance. American runner Distinctiv Passion is perhaps the most interesting runner in the field in that he brings LOTS of speed to the table. He enters here having won three of his last four races, defeating the likes of Secret Circle along the way. He's flat out fast, will ensure a strung out field, and on the cutback to five furlongs take him on early at your own risk. Peniaphobia brings tactical speed to the table, which will be more important than ever with a likely strong early pace. Five furlongs is a bit on the sharp side for him, however. That's not the case for Bundle of Joy, who excels over this trip, but he tends to be forwardly placed and if they go as quick early as I'm anticipating, Peniaphobia's running style should be much better suited than that of his countryman. Similarly to Bundle of Joy, I expect Ahtoug to be pace compromised. Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint eighth place finisher Caspar Netscher appeals at a big price because he not only possesses solid tactical speed, but he ran a strong prep in his first start off a layoff locally in which he found the lead and was ran down in the final strides. He took advantage of getting first run on a breakaway leader there and looks to get a similar, if not more pronounced, set up this time around and his current price in the market is overs for mine.
Suggested Antepost Wager: Caspar Netscher (current biggest price 25/1)

Godolphin Mile
He hasn't won since 2013 and for that reason, Prayer For Relief has become a horse who catches some social media flack from time to time, but the fact of the matter is he's one of the most consistent American runners in top class races. He was second by a neck behind Kentucky Derby third place finisher Revolutionary in a Grade 3 last year in addition to finishing fourth and third respectively in two of the most prestigious races for the older division: the G1 Whitney and G1 Woodward. He also started this year off on the right foot with a third in the one mile G3 Hal's Hope (1/2 length behind Dubai World Cup runner Lea) and a fourth in the G1 Donn Handicap, which is run over nine furlongs. He always runs his race and this field just isn't up to par with what he's been facing time in and time out in America. Expect him to be forwardly placed, but just off the main speed of Tamarkuz and very much in the mix late. 
Suggested Antepost Wager: Prayer For Relief (current biggest price 16/1)

Dubai Golden Shaheen
On paper, this race looks somewhat like a rematch of the Breeders' Cup Sprint with Secret Circle, Rich Tapestry, Salutos Amigos, and Big Macher in the field. Of these, Rich Tapestry appeals the most given he handled Secret Circle in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship and had a clear excuse when he was found to have bled following the Breeders' Cup. He hasn't ran since then, however, and for that reason doesn't appeal antepost at a short price. We'll instead look to his countryman Lucky Nine, who appears to be hitting his stride at the right time having finished a very good third just missing to classy runners Gold Fun and Aerovelocity last time out. The surface is the question for him, but he's looked comfortable over the dirt in a recent Hong Kong trial and won over the Sha Tin dirt in 2010. He was also third in this very race (over Tapeta) in his only career appearance at Meydan.
Suggested Antepost Wager: Lucky Nine (current biggest price 10/1)

Down to the Wire + Weekend Quick Picks

This week on Down to the Wire, we previewed both Kentucky Derby preps -- Spiral Stakes and Sunland Derby -- in addition to the Bourbonette, which is a Kentucky Oaks prep at Turfway Park. The Bourbonette, in particular, appears to be a wide-open race in which several nicely priced horses look to be live. 

Bourbonette -- Candice: #2 Walking the Kitten (15/1), Craig: #7 Sweet Success (4/1)
Spiral Stakes -- Candice: #1 Royal Son (7/2), Craig: #5 Another Lemon Drop (6/1)
Sunland Derby -- Candice: Lord Nelson scratched so Craig and I on #1 Firing Line (8/5)

Weekend Quick Picks:

3/21 Gulfstream Park Race 7: #2 Merry Meadow is definitely the one to beat here, but she'll be atrociously short and while she's good, she doesn't tower over the field to the extent that her price will suggest. We'll play #4 Classic Point, who fits speed figures wise and seems to have turned her form around having won two straight, including the G3 Go For Wand. The presence of pace presences Centrique and Best Behavior, both drawn outside, could well soften up Merry Meadow enough for Classic Point to take advantage and pounce. We'll play #4 Classic Point to win at odds of 3/1+. 

3/21 Gulfstream Park Race 9: #7 Ault has gone close in his two races to date, finishing second on both occasions, but he's first time turf here and stretching out to a mile, which may be just what the doctor ordered for this son of English Channel. There also doesn't appear to be much early speed in here, which should play right into his favor. We'll play him to win at odds of 3/1+. 

3/21 Turfway Park Race 9: A solid field of eight lines up for this start of the pick-3 sequence that includes the Bourbonette Oaks and Spiral Stakes. #7 Bel Air Bullet won two in a row locally before stepping up to a local stakes last time out, in which he was outclassed. He looks to have #2 Casino Dan's measure and the rest of these appear to need improvement in order to threaten for the win. We'll play #7 Bel Air Bullet to win at odds of 2/1+ and single him to kick off the pick-3: 7 / 2,4,6,7 / 1, 12 **** BEL AIR BULLET SCRATCHED, so replace with #2 Casino Dan