Saturday is a big day of international racing, which means a very early morning for horseplayers in North America, especially out here in on the West Coast. Tomorrow's 2012 Dubai World Cup card kicks off at 9:00am Eastern time with the G1-Goldolphin Mile. Both TVG and HRTV will provide television coverage of races 2 through 9.
I'll have an open thread up around 5:30am my time, assuming I can get myself out of bed and full of coffee!
You can find the entries, post positions and morning line odds in the post from earlier this week.
Below is a look at the schedule of races at Meydan for World Cup day, along with my quick take on each.
|Dubai Gold Cup
|Al Quoz Sprint
|Dubai Golden Shaheen
|Dubai Duty Free
|Dubai Sheema Classic
|Dubai World Cup
One Mile, Tapeta
There are very few shippers in this year's Goldolphin Mile; most of the contenders are raced and based in Dubai. That helps greatly in identifying the form of the top horses in the field.
4-African Story (GB) (7/2) loves Medan (3-2-0-1) and the distance (3-2-0-1) as his only defeat in both categories coming by just a neck behind 3-Sandagiyar (FR) in the G3-Firebreak in early February. The five-year-old gelding has found his form on the Tapeta surface at Meydan and looks like the top choice in a very deep and contentious Goldolphin Mile.
G1-Dubai Gold Cup
Two Miles, Turf
A new addition to the World Cup card, the Dubai Gold Cup is a two-mile test of stamina over the Meydan turf course.
Anytime I'm looking at a race at an odds distance, I like to look first for horses that have proven there ability at the trip. Absent that, I'll try to find horses that fit on things like pace, class, pedigree, etc. But, if I can find a horse that love to run 16 furlongs (and at a high level), that's where I'm going to concentrate my time.
The morning line favorite, 11-Fox Hunt (IRE) (5/2) has run well in his two tries at Meydan (both wins) but he's been less effective when attempting today's two mile distance. That extra quarter to half mile appears to make a significant difference in his performance, causing me to shy away from this gelding at the windows.
The horse just to the inside of the favorite, 10-Opinion Poll (IRE) (3/1) is a solid 4-2-1-1 at the two mile trip, including a couple of wins against Group 2 competition in England last summer. He's run well at Meydan (4-0-3-1) but has yet to find the winner's circle. Stretching back out to his best distance should be a big help to this horse.
One Mile and Three-Sixteenths, Tapeta
With this race on Meydan's Tapeta main track, and with many of the horses in this field unaccustomed to racing over a synthetic surface, I'm leaning towards 6-Mickdaam (IRE) (8/1), a colt trained by Michael de Kock that has run very well over the Meydan track and has enough tactical speed to secure a good position in the early stages. He's also got a bit of a nice price with his morning line odds of 8/1.
Al Quoz Sprint
Five Furlongs, Turf
If you've read this site for any length of time, you know that I am a self-proclaimed disaster when it comes to handicapping five furlong sprints on the grass. Not only do I always find the races a complete and utter mess, but I rarely land on the winning horse.
With that in mind, here's my quick and dirty pick that you can throw out right now: 8-August Rush (SAF) (10/1). He's never been great at the five furlong distance (6-0-1-0) but I think he's in line for a nice improvement after switching back to the turf from the synthetic in his last start.
G1-Dubai Golden Shaheen
Six Furlongs, Tapeta
Tons and tons of choices in the always crazy Golden Shaheen. I'm tossing the American 3-Giant Ryan (8/1); don't like the fact that he ran up the track in his only turf sprint start and that he's never tried synthetic. That's usually a bad combination.
1-Rocket Man (AUS) (9/2) is a synthetic sprint specialist (9-8-1-0 on synthetic; 9-8-1-0 at the distance) and he won this race a year ago over this same track. His form is not as good this year as it was last March, so I don't want to see those odds drop too much lower. At the same time, Rocket Man is hard to ignore given his historial success under these conditions.
I like 5-Krypton Factor (GB) (10/1) as a price play in this spot.
I'd love to see The Factor run big in this race, but I'm not sure that a straight six furlongs is going to be his best trip.
G1-Dubai Duty Free
Nine Furlongs, Turf
I kept coming back to 4-Ambitious Dragon (NZ) (4/1), the Hong Kong shipper, again and again in this race. He comes into this race in excellent form and he'll get a slight cut back in distance to nine furlongs. I wouldn't call this the strongest Duty Free that we've seen over the years, but it is still deep and competitive. Ambitious Dragon has repeatedly beaten several of today's rivals and I think his class is the best of the field.
G1-Dubai Sheema Classic
Twelve Furlongs, Turf
I didn't have a lot of great ideas with the Sheema Classic, but the ideas I did have usually involved 1-Songcraft (IRE) (8/1), the lightly-raced Goldolphin gelding. 8-Cirrus des Aigles (FR) (3/1) and 9-St Nicholas Abbey (IRE) (2/1) just don't offer enough value to me in this spot. Cirrus des Aigles has struggled since his big win in England last fall. And St Nicholas Abbey might not be ready to run he best race off of a five month layoff.
G1-Dubai World Cup
Ten Furlongs, Tapeta
Before the post positions draw, I was a pretty big fan of 14-Game On Dude's (3/1) chances in the World Cup. He looked fantastic in his first race back in 2012, he's got the tactical speed to put himself into the race in the early stages, and he's a game, game horses coming down the stretch. Then he drew post position 14. Goodness sakes.
I'm not sure how Game On Dude is going to avoid losing a ton of ground as the field heads into the first turn unless Chantal decides to try and hold him back and tuck into the pack. That's probably a bad move on several levels. First, if the Meydan main track plays like it did in last year's World Cup, horses need to be up near the front by the time they enter to the stretch in order to have a legitimate shot at winning. There was very little passing in the stretch last year during the card. Second, Game On Dude is not a horse that prefers to rate and run in a pack. He wants to be out front. I'm not sure Sutherland has any other choice than to try and get him to the front with the least amount of effort after leaving the gate.
I want to see Game On Dude win this race but the draw makes it real hard to take odds of 3/1 on him to win.
If Game On Dude isn't my pick, then I'm going with a price play with 3-Zazou (GER) (15/1), a versatile colt that's run well all over the world, has had success over a synthetic track, and possess enough gate speed to run up with the leaders in the early stages.