Below, find our analysis for the second night of the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival.
CLICK HERE for the past performances (US-style), courtesy of AmWest Entertainment (link live when available)
Race 1: $110,000 Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Handicap (Rated 95-105) – 1,600 metres (about 8 furlongs) – All-weather
Just 1.5 kilograms separates this field in the weights, and while it might have the look of a race that’s wide open, we really don’t think that.
#2 MARINER’S CROSS is a Godolphin runner with something to prove. He was a winner on debut, well, at least first past the post, and subsequently disqualified from that for a propoxyphene positive. He and another horse in the barn suffered similar fates for the same drug, and Mahmood Al Zarooni was fined as a result. Still – this horse is good, and even with the positive test, he came back to run a very good second in the Newmarket Stakes behind Noble Mission. All that one came back to do was run close seconds behind Thought Worthy, Thomas Chippendale, and beat eventual St. Leger winner Encke two starts before his Doncaster success. Third from the Newmarket Stakes was Michaelangelo, who landed third behind Encke in the St. Leger. From the maiden win, where the positive test was yielded, the second, third, ninth, tenth, and sixteenth all came back to win in their next starts. He goes close, and the only question is whether or not he gets over the all-weather. If he does, it’s likely to be an impressive tally.
#1 ELDERLY PARADISE is the top-rated horse in Macau and has won 10 of his last 14, 12-of-19 overall, with wins from 1,300 to 1,800m. He normally carries top weight (no less than 57 kilograms in his last six wins), and gets in today at a fair 57.5. They get no better in the special administrative region, formerly a Portuguese colony, but this guy is good, and versatile. His trainer has been here before, registering two wins from nine starts in the 2004-2005 season, and two placings in three runs from both the 05-06 and 06-07 campaigns. He brings the right horses to the UAE when he comes. The spirit has moved him to be here, and Elderly Paradise is a must consider.
Two horses that were featured in the Trakus Carnival Report from last week (READ THAT HERE), #13 IVER BRIDGE LAD and #15 SPIRIT OF BATTLE are both strong contenders given the likelihood of a strong pace, but both have again drawn way outside. They’ll have longer runs to the turn and are both expected to drop back, but the Trakus data on each is strong after last week’s closing kick over 1,400 metres, with Spirit of Battle’s trip having been significantly wider. He averaged the fastest speed in that race – the question is whether or not he can back it up on short rest. He ran well here last year and now goes third off the layoff. We think Spirit of Battle is THE top contender to Mariner’s Cross.
It should be noted that #14 NOT A GIVEN had raced in Darley colours in the US last season but now carries the silks of Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Sheikh Mohammed’s son. It’s not a huge plus in his favour as many of the top would get the bump to all-blue.
Breaking down the pace pressures – we see Mariner’s Cross out there vying for the lead with #5 BELGIAN BILL, #12 CON ARTIST, Not A Given, and Elderly Paradise, who has done much of his winning in Macau from the front. #6 CAPITAL ATTRACTION, who ran a blinder six days ago at Jebel Ali, should track, and is a winner on the Tapeta, which increases his interest. If it gets really hot, Spirit of Battle and Iver Bridge Lad are must considers. On class, we just have to go with Mariner’s Cross, but will almost assuredly back Spirit of Battle at a price.
1st – #2 MARINER’S CROSS, 2nd – #15 SPIRIT OF BATTLE, 3rd – #13 IVER BRIDGE LAD
Race 2: $120,000 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship Handicap (Rated 100-110) – 2,000 metres (about 10 furlongs) – Turf
This race is rather odd, at least in terms of finding the early pace. #1 NAQSHABBAN, #2 LAAJOOJ, #3 LINDENTHALER, #7 ANAEROBIO, and #9 WAR MONGER have all, within their recent form, gone towards the front, or settled well out the back. That’s mind-numbing when considering it within the context of this race. What will each of them do here?
Naqshabban’s win last season was good, and he will get plenty of market attention as a result, but it was a year ago and you have to wonder what has kept him away. This week’s race is also 400 metres short of last year’s event. Hmmm.
Anaerobio had a perfect trip last week, his first start in ten months, and now gets more ground (which he didn’t look like he needed last week) and another plum draw. He was ignored in the markets last time out and is likely to get much more attention now. He’s 0-for-7 in the UAE, but ran his best over these longer trips last season which witnessed his best performance, second behind Mutahadee, but came third off the break. He’s going second-up here.
#8 BLUE CORNER is unexposed, and offers intrigue as such. He’s back to ten furlongs after falling short over 2,400 in the Ballyroan Stakes (G3), where he was behind Bible Belt and Treasure Beach. That was a tough go in his third career start and it’s worth noting the second in that race, Massiyn, came back to just lose a long neck in the Irish St. Leger (G1). He has the feel of a Simon De Montfort, whom Godolphin unleashed off five career starts in 2011 and won handily in this spot.
#4 RED DUBAWI is a new addition to the David Marnane operation and gets a step down in company while remaining over the ten furlongs. Think they want to see what they get out of this guy as they have mentioned a switch to Tapeta is possible. The distance is right there for him and he will settle off the gallop. It is surely a question of whether or not he is ready having just shipped in, but it could set up for him well. His close fourth in the La Coupe de Maisons-Lafitte (G3) behind Reliable Man and Saga Dream puts him right there. Marnane suggested this guy has had limited opportunities getting over firmer going, which he gets today.
Lindenthaler has been keeping the best company, and comes off a July break for his German connections. The problem is that he just doesn’t seem that good. Even though he’s been in top races, he hasn’t won since reeling off three consecutive to begin his career. Tough ask to do it here.
Overall, it just seems another race where the early gallop should be strong and like the trips Blue Corner and Red Dubawi are likely to get. Naqshabban is likely to be overplayed given last year’s success and leaves him an expected underlay.
1st – #4 RED DUBAWI, 2nd – #8 BLUE CORNER, 3rd – #7 ANAEROBIO
Race 3: $50,000 UAE 1,000 Guineas Trial – 1,400 metres (about 7 furlongs) – All-weather
This is definitely the weaker of the two trials, at least on paper, and makes for a race with no clear-cut favourites – all of the Godolphin fillies have knocks, and the lone group stakes winner leaves us looking elsewhere. Mike de Kock and Godolphin runners have won 7 of the last 8 Guineas’ Trials (males/females combined), with last year’s win in the male division by Dark Matter a random standout.
#1 MY SPECIAL J’S is the lone group-level stakes winner in the field, taking the Debutante (G2) at the Curragh in September. She was a maiden in this spot at 12-1 after having been beaten by Harasiya in her previous start, and actually bettered that one over the yielding going. It was an upset, for sure, and backed-up by a poor showing in the Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1) when last behind Sky Lantern and not much improvement when ninth on Arc day. Harlan’s Holiday, her sire, was second in the Dubai World Cup behind Moon Ballad and her unraced dam has dropped just one stakes-placed runner in America. She’s tough to read.
#10 SHURUQ was a maiden winner in her first try on the all-weather at Kempton, over this same trip, and certainly has the breeding to like it. She is by Elusive Quality out of the Noverre mare Miss Lucifer, a winner of three from eleven lifetime starts, including the Challenge Stakes (G2) as a 3-year-old against older males. The field Miss Lucifer beat that day included past Carnival winners Balthazaar’s Gift and Asset (for whatever that is worth). Shuruq should go forward. A potential issue is that the second, just a length behind Shuruq, came back to run sixth beaten three lengths in her next start, and overall, horses from that maiden are a combined 0-for-10, with no placings since. Eek.
#9 MUSIC CHART is a real question mark for us in here. She won on debut and was asked for run from Mickael Barzalona a long way from home, finally responding after the rest of the field seemed listless behind. She edged clear from Sorella Bella that day, a filly who went on to run third in the Peter Willett Stakes (Listed) at Goodwood – three lengths behind eventual Royal Lodge (G2) winner Steeler. Four horses came back from that race and won their next start, which did include Sorella Bella, albeit in a Carlisle maiden. Both the third and fourth placer from Music Chart’s debut win have won since without crazy impression. She moved on to Ascot, where she carried the red cap and Richard Mullen, and ran just an even race when beaten by two of her stablemates – one of which came back to run third in the Rockfel Stakes (G2).
#7 MAR MAR, a recent winner on one of the final days of the flat season in the UK, looks for a first win on the all-weather. Her dam side pedigree is full of middle distance success, as her unraced dam was by Sadler’s Wells out of an Ela-Mana-Mou mare. The Invincible Spirit on top definitely gives her sprinting ability, and she showed it when going over this trip at Kempton. She was beaten a neck by Richard Hannon trainee Zurigha and those two broke well clear of the rest, enough to make us think she is a definite contender. If given her past performance, she will show pace.
#8 MORE THAN SOTKA was well-regarded by trainer David Marnane in our preseason discussions. She was a more random purchase as Marnane’s runners at the Carnival have typically been focused in older handicaps, but this filly stood out and they are hopeful she goes on the Tapeta. Having only been in country a few days, she should come on for the run.
#4 DAAR ZAYED was hardly disgraced on debut at Saratoga and ran well on Tapeta at Presque Isle in her only career victory. Not sure what happened at Keeneland, but she raced midpack and did cover extra ground that day which can account for some of the final margin.
#6 KOSIKA’s dam was a listed winner in the US and has dropped a multiple stakes winner named Around the Cape, who did all of his running in grass sprints. Hard Spun was a trier, and our belief is that he will show to be the best sire of a crop that included Street Sense, Curlin, and Any Given Saturday. Since her debut win, her eleven rivals have amassed a record of three wins from 46 starts, and all of those wins were in lower level maiden ranks. If she carries over what she did at Haydock that day, she’ll be prominent, but seems a cut below unless the time off improves her substantially.
We are really willing to go in just about any direction, but the opinion isn’t a strong one. We’ll give the edge to Music Chart, almost exclusively off the back of her win over Sorella Bella, who went on to a decent performance next out. There are questions, surely, and overall, our opinions here are weak.
1st – #9 MUSIC CHART, 2nd – #8 MORE THAN SOTKA, 3rd – #10 SHURUQ
Race 4: $120,000 Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire Handicap (Rated 100-110) – 1,200 metres (about 6 furlongs) – Turf
We reiterate our normal point of discussion that our opinions in these straight turf sprints are normally pretty poor.
#4 INVINCIBLE ASH ends up on the stretch out to 1,000 metres, and if the pace is anything like it was last week over 1,000, she surely has a chance to do it. Off the Trakus data, Invincible Ash ran the fastest final 200 metres last week, getting the distance in 11.62 seconds, which was 0.15 seconds faster than longshot winner Fityaan.
#1 HAPPY DUBAI, #3 THE REAPER, #5 INXILE, #8 CHEVIOT, #13 STONEFIELD FLYER, and #15 DEVIL’S CUT are all likely to be on or near the pace, with Inxile and Cheviot two likely to have benefitted from the run last week. #12 LUI REI wasn’t bad last week when fourth, and a slight step at the break kept him back in mid-division, which suited given the blazing tempo. Otherwise, he has been known to go forward and could rebound into that position on Thursday.
What do you do with #11 FINAL BUTTON. Well regarded by the camp, they were bullish on him over Tapeta and wheel right back on grass over six. He’s familiar with this trip from his time in South Africa and is another likely to sit off the pace. Did we catch the funeral last week, only to miss the wedding this week? He was well-supported across the board as word on this guy seemed to be out. While the de Kock camp is still high on him, the quick return makes us wonder if this is another good bit of work which will lead to an all-weather renewal later. Brutal position to be in here…
#10 RUSSIAN ROCK has been masterful at Jebel Ali, and has grass success in the past. He went ninth in a similar spot last season on opening night over the 1,000-metre trip and should show prominence to the gallop.
#6 ROSENDAHL was a scratch last week and gets a curious jockey booking in Mickael Barzalona and goes this week over the 1,200 which seemed more suited to him than the 1,000 entry he held last week.
Then there is #2 TAMAATHUL, who ran incredibly well back on the grass last week and proved the adage that a good horse, in-form, is a good horse no matter the surface. While it’s tough to believe that sometimes, Tamaathul is spot-on at the moment and the drop to 1,200 over last week’s edition makes him a likely favourite.
If the pace is keen once again, we think Invincible Ash can get the job done at a price, ignored off the eighth placing from last week. She did win the Meydan Sprint here last season.
1st – #4 INVINCIBLE ASH, 2nd – #10 RUSSIAN ROCK, 3rd – #3 THE REAPER
Race 5: $50,000 UAE 2,000 Guineas Trial – 1,400 metres (about 7 furlongs) – All-weather
#1 SOFT FALLING RAIN gets top weight via the Group 1 penalty, but he deserves it. They’ve almost assuredly written the Derby off with possible plans of going for the Godolphin Mile over a shorter trip. He was the top juvenile in South Africa last season and bolted home in the SA Nursery (G1), a race that produced 12 winners and 30 placings from the field through the end of last season. Is he ready? The Mike de Kock shippers from South Africa surely seemed to need a race last week, and this might not be any different. He’s tough to go against.
#4 GLASS OFFICE is unbeaten over all-weather surfaces, at Kempton anyhow, and each race got slightly better. He won the Sirenia Stakes (G3) in his last start and this gray just bolted in, uncorking a clean stride in the last 250 metres when it looked wide open just before. If he repeats that effort, he’s definitely in the mix.
Mike de Kock stated in the Dubai Racing Comprehensive that unequivocally, this trip is too short for #2 EL ESTRUENDOSO – farther is better for the son of Giant’s Causeway. We have to take that for what it’s worth and operate accordingly.
#3 ZAHEE seems the real question mark off his Australian performances. De Kock has won these races in the past with his second string, and there is no question Zahee fits that bill. How he goes over Tapeta is anyone’s guess, but he is more race-fit based on his schedule, having run in mid-September, compared to Soft Falling Rain.
#12 SNOWBOARDER and #10 LUHAIF share a similar race, a conditions stakes at Kempton. While the latter remains a maiden, it’s not for a lack of almost winning. He ran well at Goodwood behind the progressive Olympic Glory and just missed against Snowboarder. He raced with prominence, but never seemed to really be going a strong gallop. Snowboarded just galloped along behind Luhaif in what was his last start before this. Once he got out in the clear, he progressed well when carrying his head to the left a bit and really just seemed lucky to win – a stride past the wire he was well-beaten and galloped out poorly (seemingly incredibly tired). The second home in that blanket finish was Wayfoong Express, sent off at 20-1 and much lower-rated. Both seem tough to back on these accounts.
#9 I’M BACK bested #8 FILFIL in an October maiden, and did it well, while Filfil needed two more starts to get another win. Neither were overwhelming efforts but three wins for I’m Back does at least suggest he likes being there at the end. The problem is that I’m Back has drawn the far outside barrier, which could be problematic and force Silvestre De Sousa to send him hard to get the lead.
#11 RELATED and #7 DESERT OF DREAMS both interest given their local work against older horses last time, the latter getting a maiden win on this surface.
This race seems to have plenty of pace, and it’s really just a question of whether or not Soft Falling Rain is ready to run, as we’ve pretty much written-off El Estruendoso until later in the Carnival. Glass Office was wildly impressive last time at Kempton, a race that while it hasn’t produced any winners since, does offer four decent placings, including the second behind a well-regarded Tamayuz Star in a Tattersalls sales-race.
It’s tough to go against Soft Falling Rain, but we will.
1st – #4 GLASS OFFICE, 2nd – #1 SOFT FALLING RAIN, 3rd – #3 ZAHEE
Race 6: $110,000 Dubai Duty Free Full of Surprises Handicap – 2,410 meters (about 12 furlongs) – Turf
This has the look of a very well-balanced race as far as the pace is concerned.
#3 IN THE SPOTLIGHT is en route to the Dubai Gold Cup on World Cup night, getting the two-mile trip. This is shorter for the champion mare from India, but fits within the plan, and she rarely runs a bad race. When she has, it’s been a function of a very fast pace and moving too soon. Her last such event took place when she was asked to go over 2,200 metres and the pace was mis-judged from the start. This bunch is far from top notch and she fits well in the weights. She is a deserving favourite and while the overall class of her competition is the best she’s ever faced, she’s spent most of her time toying with them back home. For much more on the background of this mare, check out the Dubai Racing Comprehensive, where we identified her as a key one to follow at the Carnival.
#9 AHZEEMAH is just always in the mix. Through ten starts, he’s been out of the placings only twice, but overall, he’s just a middling handicapper looking to get a Carnival win. Those performances at the end of last season are definitely enough to put him in the mix on Thursday. The top-weighted Godolphin runner #1 ANATOLIAN showed up once in three starts last season, but that win in September 2011 got our eye. The victory over Tmaam stands out in that he is now in the UAE, and has done nothing in five starts this season. We are more interested in Ahzeemah.
#10 ART SCHOLAR is another middling handicapper who has won 10 of 41 lifetime, including a brilliant stretch last season where he had two wins and two seconds in four starts. When asked if he can beat In the Spotlight, we just don’t think so.
#8 SHAM SHEER ran well considering the step-up in company, the drop back in trip, and his first run off a significant break. He verified his Bahraini form as legitimate, and now a second start over farther has us interested.
#12 SADEEK’S SONG is going to have to shock us – two starts in 2012 off a 6.5 month break and he’s beaten a combined 76 lengths. Prior to that, he was in the mix. #15 CHICAGO was a former Ballydoyle runner and gets a weight break in this spot, hoping to go better for new connections. Rarely do these runners improve outside the care of Aidan O’Brien, hence why they were sold, save potentially Mike de Kock’s magic. We won’t be shocked by any result.
1st – #3 IN THE SPOTLIGHT, 2nd – #9 AHZEEMAH, 3rd – #8 SHAM SHEER
UAE season-to-date: 144 selections – 38 first, 24 second, 20 third (26% win, 57% top picks in top 3)