The 2015 Dubai World Cup meeting is upon us. Here you will find our full analysis of the nine-race card, the world’s richest day of racing. Coming shortly will be our tipsters’ full selections and the preview video for the big meeting.
To access the past performances, courtesy of AmWest Entertainment, CLICK HERE.
Race 1 – $1,000,000 Dubai Kahayla Classic for purebred Arabians (G1) – 2,000m – dirt
No one really knows how good #1 VALIANT BOY truly is, but he’s been on a wild stream and surely seems to love the dirt. This track is very similar to what he would have faced at Churchill last year, and his mid-division style should suit well in a race that has a likely legitimate pace. We aren’t thrilled that Joel Rosario gets on him, someone who hardly, if ever, has been parked astride this slower and quirkier breed, but we still expect a big run in what is, without any question, the toughest Arabian race he’s ever contested. A negative in his column could be the lack of really big efforts first off the bench, as he seems to have come on for them. We’ll see.
#11 VERSAC PY is more than competent on this surface after his Maktoum Challenge Round 3 win, and rates a big chance after nearly winning this race a few years ago. Trainer Erwan Charpy hopes to get #3 MANARK over this elongated trip, and a good draw could see him in the mix. If you like Versac PY, some consideration is deserved for #9 AF LAFEH, who improved over this trip last time.
The dual-headed Qatari challenge seems stout too, with #12 TARAF and #14 DJANIKA DES FORGES, second in the race a year ago, as likely top challengers. The former is by Burning Sand, a top US-based purebred stallion who was plenty successful on the dirt, so think that mare has no issues with the surface. Djanika Des Forges was marooned in 16 last year, and gets two spots better, also on a new surface. She is a top mare in her own right and will also be in with a massive shout.
Ignoring #13 RICHLORE seems a mistake too. If she runs back to her form two back, over 2,200 meters of Meydan’s dirt, along with a hot early gallop, we can see her grabbing a slice of it, if not taking the full kitty.
This is a wildly competitive race, the first of many on the night, and a great way to get things going. We’re siding with the dirt pedigree on Julian Smart trained Taraf to be the improver.
1st – #12 TARAF, 2nd – #14 DJANIKA DES FORGES, 3rd – #11 VERSAC PY, 4th – #1 VALIANT BOY, 5th – #13 RICHLORE
Race 2 – $1,000,000 Godolphin Mile (G2) – 1,600m – dirt
One thing to keep in mind – there have been 22 races at the 1,600 meter distance at Meydan on the new dirt surface. 18 of the 22 races have been won by horses breaking from the first seven gates. There has been one winner from gate nine in 18 tries, while gate ten has yielded two winners and gate eleven produced one.
Can you go against #1 TAMARKUZ? He’s the best local dirt miler, no doubt, and easily saw off #10 GOLD CITY, #14 LAYL, and #11 HAATHEQ in the past. He has a plum draw on the rail yet again. If you don’t think Gold City, Layl, or Haatheq are legitimate chances to contend in this race (even ignoring the differences in the draw), aren’t you forced to look elsewhere? Of those three, for what it’s worth, Gold City is likely the best candidate to drawn into the hot tempo.
This is a tough race. #16 SURFER has a near-impossible draw, but is a course and distance winner. He tends to need things to go his own way, and the draw might have ruined those chances on the surface. Still, he’s good on his best, and probably better than Tamarkuz, and there will be a massive disparity in their prices. #15 SLOANE AVENUE was done no draw favors, either, but is incredibly well-considered, regally bred for the dirt, and was expected for the Donn Handicap before grabbing a quarter the day before the race. We have no reason to think he won’t go well on this surface.
The Americans are back in this race, and hold a legitimate threat with front-runner # 5 BRADESTER. Trainer Eddie Kenneally is 1-1 in Dubai, having won the Golden Shaheen with his only previous runner in the country, Kelly’s Landing. He’s another who has given us no reason to dislike his morning appearance. In his last two starts off a freshening, Bradester has run great races, and is in a cozy draw to go forward and challenge for the lead.
This is a welcome relief in class for #8 PRAYER FOR RELIEF, who has been in the care of Mike de Kock’s team since arrival. They had some hoof issues, according to an interview with de Kock early in the week, but he seems over them, working three furlongs in 35.96 seconds on Wednesday morning. If you like Lea a bit in the World Cup, don’t you have to like Prayer For Relief a little bit here?
Another with a cozy draw is #3 QUADRIVIUM, who worked incredibly well on the all-weather training track with Main Sequence on Tuesday. The gelding has been well traveled in four US starts, the best of which
Is #6 FRANKYFOURFINGERS without a legitimate chance here? He is winner on dirt, and ran really well against Surfer first-up on dirt over the trip. Now, he cuts back to the mile, where he always seemed more suited. The problem, potentially, is that they could really go crazy on the front-end. He looked superb on course this Thursday and
What about the Carnival success story #7 DARK EMERALD. Trying dirt for the first time, he is very well accomplished locally and has stayed on to get into the big dance. They’ve trained him over the dirt and he certainly looks in fine order. If he takes to it, and with his style, he could have a say at the finish.
There is no lack of early zip in this race – we expect Tamarkuz, #2 FREE WHEELING, Bradester, Frankyfourfingers, #9 GRAPHIC. Who benefits most from this? You have to think Surfer, right? While many things have gone free and easy in the wins Surfer has, he is a bit more complex now. Satish Seemar is adding blinkers after jockey Richard Mullen indicated he got quite lazy in his last race, and now Surfer is likely to get a cozy trip stalking the speed. While likely to cover some extra ground, we’re giving Surfer the chance to pull a bit of an upset.
Getting the first four straight on here is a tough proposition, but are giving the edge to quality animals who aren’t likely to get cooked by the likely hot tempo.
1st – #16 SURFER, 2nd – #8 PRAYER FOR RELIEF, 3rd – #6 FRANKYFOURFINGERS, 4th – #1 TAMARKUZ, 5th – #15 SLOANE AVENUE
Race 3 – $1,000,000 Dubai Gold Cup (G2) – 3,200m – turf
In two consecutive seasons, #14 BROWN PANTHER has run to massive wins first off the shelf, and look where he starts his campaign. We caught his work on the training course this week and he is his normal playful self. The Breeders’ Cup performance is a complete toss to us given what happened just a week or so before at Woodbine when running off pre-race. If he holds it together, he shapes up as one of the two classiest in the race, and that’s enough for us.
There is nothing wrong with #8 BATHYRHON’s form from last year, most notably the fourth behind eventual Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist. He is well within the realm of the possible and fits with Brown Panther as a class standout. A must respect!
We give #7 MARZOCCO a big chance for Godolphin and John Gosden. The son of Kitten’s Joy had an easy prep on the all-weather at Chelmsford City, where he was in front of Fire Fighting, who was the cause of the Nad Al Sheba Trophy disaster when running away on the front end. This is a class test against elders, the first time he really will face them on good to firm ground, but seems perfectly suited and unexposed enough to slip under the radar. No one in this race has a prep over the trip this season bar Marzocco, and that adds to his interest for a shrewd shipper.
#10 HAVANA BEAT had a good leg-stretcher in the local prep and swings back over a distance that suits. He had a limited campaign last year, but seems to be in coming to form at the right time, with higher tasks to tackle beyond this. His impression during trackwork has been favorable and he is acclimated. A legitimate chance to move forward.
#9 ALMOONQITH was a bit of a revelation over the extended trip last time and could just be coming into his own. You almost have to like #13 RIO TIGRE as well, but both don’t seem classy enough, yet, against some others. That said, trainer Mike de Kock is fairly bullish on Almoonqith.
1st – #14 BROWN PANTHER, 2nd – #8 BATHYRHON, 3rd – #10 HAVANA BEAT, 4th – #7 MARZOCCO, 5th – #9 ALMOONQITH
Race 4 – $2,000,000 UAE Derby (G2) – 1,900m – dirt
The two colts with all the success in the sophomore ranks during the Carnival were #1 MUBTAAHIJ and #9 MAFTOOL. They split two meetings over shorter trips, and Mubtaahij progressed over 1,900 meters when winning the Super Saturday prep, the Al Bastakiya, while Maftool sat that one out. When watching the replay of the UAE 2,000 Guineas, Maftool looked to have some distance limitations while Mubtaahij was staying on the whole way, and we know Mubtaahij can get the trip.
Meanwhile, #4 SIR FEVER saw his unbeaten mark lowered when second to Mubtaahij last time. There are questions regarding Sir Fever. Was the competition he faced in Uruguay subpar? Was he 100% ready for his local debut? Will he move forward now with a local race under his belt? This was a very seasoned older horse who had the first real break of his career when shipping in from South America. Perhaps he did not acclimatize well. Mubtaahij beat him well and really didn’t seem all that extended in doing so, but we aren’t willing to totally reject the future chances of Sir Fever.
#7 GOLDEN BAROWS gets the return services of Ryan Moore as Japan looks for their first win in the UAE Derby. Unbeaten on dirt, the son of the wildly successful stallion Tapit is the first foal out of Mother Russia, a $528,000 earner on dirt and turf, with many of those wins coming New York-bred restricted company. She seemed best at seven furlongs or so, and it’s ever so possible Golden Barows has distance limitation, this being his first race over two turns, and going 300 meters farther than ever before.
He was a clear winner of the Hyacinth Stakes last time when coming from off the pace, and a contested pace it was, which may have helped set the table for him. Judging the competition in Japanese dirt races is incredibly difficult, but we at least know he’s beaten #10 DEAR DOMUS and #6 TAP THAT, fourth and sixth behind him last time. While Golden Barows is likely the best of the Japanese contingent, it’s a guess as to how he (and the others) legitimately shape against this bunch. Respect him.
A pair of Saudi entrants joined the fray for this race fairly late, the clear winner of the King Abdullah Cup (G1), #3 ALNAJIM ALFAIZ and the fading second, #2 MOTAA, both of whom are backing up quite quick and could find themselves not classy enough.
What we know is that Mubtaahij is very good, Sir Fever likely to improve, especially now that he is blinkers on, and Maftool is completely confident on this surface, though the distance could get to him. That’s how we are playing it.
1st – #1 MUBTAAHIJ, 2nd – #4 SIR FEVER, 3rd – #9 MAFTOOL, 4th – #7 GOLDEN BAROWS, 5th – #5 FAITHFUL CREEK
Race 5 – $1,000,000 Al Quoz Sprint (G1) – 1,000m – turf
We say it all the time in these turf sprints – if you have a strong opinion, go with it. Another absolute cracker where so many seem to be in with chances.
Here is one thing we know – there should be an absolute load of early speed in this race. #14 DISTINCTIV PASSION knows absolutely no different than to run on and keep going, whether the surface be dirt or turf. This straight course is new to him, and how it plays to him is beyond our prognostication powers, but expect this pure American speedster to be mixing it up. This guy has led after the first two furlongs in his last 14 races. You might note he has only run 15 times. The point should be clear. This is the one to catch.
Last year’s winner #10 AMBER SKY is back to defend his crown, but hasn’t shown his proficiency in racing as he did last season, when a gritty wire-to-wire winner. In his most recent trial at Sha Tin, he demolished a lackluster bunch and showed that gate speed which served him well here last year. But when under the starter’s order, he just hasn’t shown the same punch, and that concerns. Another who is likely to go forward is #12 CASPIAN PRINCE, and he’s been a wild horse on the track. It could lead to a frentic gallop on the standside, which we prognosticate (right or wrong) that those inside this speed could get a great tow into the race.
We are ever-so-slightly concerned with #16 PENIAPHOBIA’s draw near the top speed in the race. Some would suggest it could be good, but we estimate it leaves him open to a more likely chance someone backs-up into him when commencing a run. It might not matter. He’s very good, and has been consistently overlaid with the UK bookmakers. #13 AHTOUG is in that phalanx of speed as well, and it could be feast or famine with him because of it. We just don’t know how he’ll handle it all, but has been wildly regular in the frame his last two runs. A close second last year, he could go one better.
#7 SOLE POWER is naught-from-life outside of the UK and Ireland. Sure, he’s been close on countless occasions, including right here in Dubai. He had no chance to lengthen in the straight in the Meydan Sprint, surely a leg-stretcher anyway, and was wrapped up early when lacking room. A massive pace to run into and a cozy draw in the middle that could give Richard Hughes plenty to come after? And at a price that is significantly higher than he normally trades at in the UK? Yes please.
#4 VIA AFRICA is another who will get a great chance to improve second-up. She is drawn next to #3 HOTOTO, one we absolutely respect and think is easily a top four chance too. With even more pace than last time, we expect Via Africa to get a nice run from mid-pack (yes, she’ll be outkicked early with the gallop standside), and could grab a nice position to challenge.
1st – #7 SOLE POWER, 2nd – #4 VIA AFRICA, 3rd – #16 PENIAPHOBIA, 4th – #13 AHTOUG, 5th – #14 DISTINCTIV PASSION
Race 6 – $2,000,000 Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News (G1) – 1,200m – dirt
There seem to be a load of chances in here, especially if you are willing to look beyond the three horses that shipped in from America for this race. Overall, we think this is the most fascinating, and incredibly bettable race of the night.
Do you really like #7 SECRET CIRCLE? Winless since his 2013 Breeders’ Cup Sprint tally, though never out of the first four since. Is he the same horse? Should he have managed a few victories since? All those good efforts without a win – surely respectable, but is it enough to fire a big shot here in a bulky field? He came very close to repeating in the Breeders’ Cup last November. We are taking a shot against him.
#13 COOL COWBOY really caught our eye during his run in the Mahab Al Shimaal. The story is as follows – he was sick in quarantine in the U.S., and was short of work leading into his Super Saturday race. He was one of four in the local prep to go forward, four across the course, and the only one to hang around. The other three horses were beaten nine, 17, and 21 lengths, respectively. Being as undercooked as he was, this race was more than respectable, and we think he could substantially move forward over a surface he clearly enjoyed. Beware at a price.
In his first lifetime start, #6 BIG MACHER was claimed for $20,000. He was actually offered for slightly more than that in some subsequent races, but there were no takers. His biggest win, surely was a narrow tally over two-time Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile champ Goldencents, but it came in a spot at Del Mar where Goldencents completely missed the break. So, an excuse for his chief rival, but you can’t deny that he still won. The ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint doesn’t look good on his C.V. either, but he completely missed the break and was an astounding 16 lengths behind with two furlongs to run and was beaten just four. These connections have never quite traveled like this before, so it’s a massive test. He didn’t impress much either last time out. Still, he can win on his best and needs a few things to go his way.
#5 SALUTOS AMIGOS is a winner of four straight in some fairly middling sprinting company, all races at Aqueduct. Since joining David Jacobson, his form is vastly superior, with eight wins from 13 starts. The connections have been fairly confident publically this week, and that confidence isn’t coming from nowhere. The well run gelding, who has nearly double the lifetime starts as Secret Circle (while a year younger), should enjoy the hot tempo that this race likely brings, and can’t be dismissed.
Which #3 KRYPTON FACTOR shows up? The one who gutted out a second, and nearly beat, the hot local Reynaldothewizard, who misses this race with an injury? Or the one who was slowly away last time? Now with Kieran Fallon aboard, the same jockey who partnered him to a win in this race in 2012, and third off the freshening, he could be bounding into the race in good stead or going the opposite direction. Nothing would surprise us with this Fawzi Nass trainee. He’s a sneaky chance at a monster price.
#9 UNITED COLOR performed admirably with blinkers on last time and gets them again for this. He made up a load of ground last time, and still might not have enough for them, but he’s gutsy and just sticks on. He’s a placing chance also at a big price.
The Hong Kong contingent are back in the form of #4 RICH TAPESTRY and #8 LUCKY NINE. The former was a winner on Tapeta here last year in a first-up effort, taking the Mahab Al Shimaal before running second in the Golden Shaheen. He won the Santa Anita Sprint Championship first up as well. All good signs. The bad is that he was self-reported by his trainer to have not traveled all that well, never a good sign.
Lucky Nine, however, is wildly compelling. He’s practically a pensioner, but is as game as they come, with 21 finishes in the first two from 41 starts, a third behind Krypton Factor in this race on all-weather, and a mammoth supply of big-race success. Sons of Dubawi have taken to the dirt quite well, recording four individual horses to win a total of seven races from the 75 to run on the dirt thus far. That can’t hurt.
What’s more, Lucky Nine isn’t as untested on dirt as you would think. His last race was on February 15, a game third in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize at Sha Tin, beaten less than a length, but he’s had two sensational barrier trials on the all-weather track there. While it’s called the “all-weather,” it’s really a dirt course. The first was on February 6 where he led from start to finish in a trial that went from the gate in 1:11.3, and the second was on March 17, with today’s jock Brett Prebble aboard, coming from just off the pace to win the trial in 1:10.0. The last trial was eye-catching, it had a decent group, and was run like a true dirt race. Lucky Nine was never extended and soared over the dirt. In the first trial, he bested eventual BMW Hong Kong Derby winner Lugar. Not too shabby.
Don’t forget, he has had two runs on the all-weather, a lifetime ago in 2010, one a win, the other a close second to the very good Entrapment, when Lucky Nine missed the break and was hurriedly rushed into contention.
Another of the Hong Kong challengers is #12 SUPER JOCKEY, who was incredibly proficient in his dirt start, the local HK prep for this spot on March 1. He has caught the eye of a few shrewd pundits this week, and should sit a nice stalking position too.
1st – #8 LUCKY NINE, 2nd – #13 COOL COWBOY, 3rd – #7 SECRET CIRCLE, 4th – #3 KRYPTON FACTOR, 5th – #5 SALUTOS AMIGOS
Race 7 – $6,000,000 Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (G1) – 1,800m – turf
The field quality is obviously down this year with a few unfortunate injuries to plague top contenders. On paper, we have never seen a ratings disparity like that offered in this spot. #6 THE GREY GATSBY towers over the field on form. He is just, far and away, the classiest horse in the race, and it might be enough to overcome a trip that is short of his best, in a race that seems to lack a real pace presence. Don’t forget that this guy has been forwardly placed in the past, and could absolutely end up in a handy spot.
There are some that think The Grey Gatsby will find the nine furlongs of this race too sharp, but do yourself a favor and go back and watch the Irish Champion Stakes, where over 1 ¼ miles, he and Australia, who would also be quite short in this race, were well ahead of Trading Leather and the rest of the field with a furlong to go. That race had a stiff pace with both Mukhadram and Australia having pacemakers to ensure a good gallop. That required The Grey Gatsby and Australia to makeup more ground as they were well out the back. In a spot with less significant early pace, we expect Ryan Moore will have him closer.
Now, the jocks in this race could look down, see there isn’t much speed on, and suddenly decide they will take it up. Or not. We think #5 LIMARIO will show some early gallop, and it might not be impossible if #9 FARRAAJ is up in the vanguard too.
#10 SOLOW is a winner of seven from his last eight, but was really just breaking into group-level company at the end of last season. That lone loss was a random foray over a much longer trip, so ignore it. His narrow win in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein (G2) certainly looks good on paper, but we are left with a hollow feeling considering the competition. Surely this isn’t the toughest renewal of the race, but the best win on his ledger was a narrow score over Veda and Sommerabend. His prep was dominant, but his main competition in the all-weather tally, Fractional, never fired.
Knowing how fancied Hunter’s Light was for this race before his injury and subsequent retirement, #2 UMGIYO was hardly disgraced by him two starts back. If things get chippy up front, he is absolutely in flying form and could be one to grab a slice at a big price.
Part of getting The Grey Gatsby in this spot was the ability to get Ryan Moore, as he was otherwise booked for the Sheema Classic. This is a significantly easier race than the Sheema, and if class tells, it’s his race to lose.
1st – #6 THE GREY GATSBY, 2nd – #10 SOLOW, 3rd – #2 UMGIYO, 4th – #1 EURO CHARLINE, 5th – #5 LIMARIO
Race 8 – $6,000,000 Dubai Sheema Classic presented by Longines (G1) – 2,410m – turf
Complete honesty time. We have no strong opinion in this race, at all. There seem five in with legitimate chances to win, and a few others who could step up on their best and pull it off.
#7 DESIGNS ON ROME is Hong Kong’s reigning Horse of the Year. He’s good, very good. But everyone is going to stare at one line in his form – the most significant defeat of his career when fifth, beaten 4 ½ lengths in his only try over 2,400 meters, the Champions & Chater Cup (G1) at Sha Tin last May. He cruised in the Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup (G1) last time, annexed a local Group 3 before that, and then landed a blow in the Longines Hong Kong Cup (G1) in December, besting Military Attack.
John Moore has long planned for this race (a not insignificant point), announcing a Dubai invasion was likely immediately after his December score in international company. Now, that lone race over 1 ½ miles last May? It came at the end of a seven race string which included a win in the BMW Hong Kong Derby (G1) and Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1). There should be every reason to think he was just at the end of a grueling campaign. That said, he travels for the first time since importation to Hong Kong, and will also have to corner left-handed, something he hasn’t been asked to do for a while. Hong Kong is winless in a non-sprint on grass in the UAE since Vengeance Of Rain landed this race in 2007, and haven’t placed on over the longer trip since 2008. More so, there is not much early zip and he loves to run from well off the pace.
Speaking of long-term plans, when we spoke with trainer Graham Motion in August at Saratoga, he stated then the goals for #5 MAIN SEQUENCE included the Breeders’ Cup Turf (check) and then to go win the Dubai Sheema Classic. Well, he’s here now, and he still hasn’t lost for his new conditioner. So many want to suggest this gelding has improved measurably with Lasix, something he won’t get in Dubai. Maybe. What we know for sure is that he has greatly appreciated the change in venue and Motion is firing on all cylinders with this guy.
#4 FLINTSHIRE was second to him in the Breeders’ Cup and came back to win the Longines Hong Kong Vase (G1). No American-based horse has ever won on grass in the UAE. Main Sequence is far and away the best chance to claim the title. Regarding Flintshire, he is almost always in the mix, but rarely wins, and a narrow score over a pace compromised Willie Cazals and a long-time leader in Khaya from Hong Kong doesn’t exactly fit the bill.
#2 DOLNIYA had a ground-saving trip in the Arc and passed plenty of horses, most of whom were parked wide throughout. She had a win over Flintshire in a farcical all-weather prep for this, but you can’t put any stock in being ahead of him in that race. This is a tough spot, and she beat some good ones at Longchamp, and she feels both like an outsider and a legitimate chance at the same time. Odd? Yes. But that’s just our sentiment. We respect her fairly unexposed form and see it as a benefit.
Ryan Moore’s presence on any horse draws attention, and the addition of Moore to Japanese filly #9 HARP STAR is generally being praised as a massive switch. She was more forwardly placed than usual last time out with Yuga Kawada on board and just never really picked up as she has when closing from well out of it in past races. Maybe it was just a true prep to get her ready for this. We wouldn’t be surprised with any result.
So – a synopsis – all the horses mentioned above are our candidates for the main prize. Who is absolutely doing the best coming into it, with a long-term plan in place? Is #3 TRUE STORY the leader? He might be the one who goes out and tries to take them all the way, something that hardly ever happens on this course, though Saeed bin Suroor was bearish on that prospect when we spoke to him on Thursday. But he has raced with some prominence and could try that tactic in this spot.
Who will be the next-best positioned horse? We think it’s Flintshire.
1st – #4 FLINTSHIRE, 2nd – #7 DESIGNS ON ROME, 3rd – #5 MAIN SEQUENCE, 4th – #2 DOLNIYA, 5th – #9 HARP STAR
Race 9 – $10,000,000 Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates (G1) – 2,000m – dirt
There are so many good dirt horses that pointed to this race for a while who simply did not make it. We miss Bayern, Toast of New York, Tonalist, and Constitution. But it has American Horse of the Year #9 CALIFORNIA CHROME, a healthy #5 LEA, winner of last year’s Donn Handicap, and a new UAE import in the form of #6 CANDY BOY. Add in the $8.5 million earner #2 HOKKO TARUMAE, the best dirt horse in Japan, plus Japan Cup winner #8 EPIPHANEIA, along with last year’s defending champion #3 AFRICAN STORY – well, it’s still a wildly competitive race.
California Chrome has done nothing wrong since coming to Dubai. He traveled well, he worked well over the course. Everyone is happy. His maintenance drill on Tuesday morning, four furlongs in 50.91 seconds, was just what the Shermans were looking for. There is no reason to think he was at his best last time, and frankly, that makes his mere 1 ½ length defeat to Shared Belief look quite better than you would think considering what he did in winning the Santa Anita Handicap next out. He will run his race.
Lea has simply impressed us more. This Bill Mott trainee is an absolute picture of health at the moment, and showed us on Tuesday that he is completely primed for this event, hopping on the bit when he came across competition while galloping. His first-up win, off an eleven month respite, was a sensational effort when encountering some trouble in the stretch. He was hardly disgraced in the Donn second-up, and was coming at Constitution in that spot. Now, he’s third off the layoff and is probably some degree of value. We expect him to sit in the second flight and stalk from there, catching California Chrome in the late stages.
We expect Hokko Tarumae will go forward and African Story should be prominent as well. California Chrome should sit just with them, or off them, while Lea and Candy Boy should be in the next flight. #1 PRINCE BISHOP has had some awkward performances on this surface, but has run on admirably in both of them, and that has to be respected as not many are coming from well off the pace.
Candy Boy is an interesting longshot. He’s been in Dubai in the care of Doug Watson for two months, now, working steadily at home. Watson purposely skipped the Maktoum Challenge despite his charge’s health, hoping to just keep him fresh and as fit as possible for the big prize than risk spending the petrol on Super Saturday. When you get a horse with the intention of winning the big one, fire your best shot. Winless since February 2014, in age-restricted company, Candy Boy’s record is probably better than it seems on paper. He did everything but win the West Virginia Derby when enduring a very wide trip, finishing second to Tapiture, who came back to run a gallant place in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, second to Goldencents. In the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he covered a wide trip from gate twelve, going 47 feet more than Bayern, and even covering a bit more ground than California Chrome, who was drawn one gate wider.
What about the two local horses emerging from the Maktoum Challenge – 2014 Dubai World Cup winner #3 AFRICAN STORY and two-time Meydan dirt second-placer Prince Bishop? Our opinion on both is the same – on dirt, they seem a cut below the rest in here. Their performances this year at Meydan were hardly pleasing to the eye, seemingly implored to get everything done that they actually did. That’s disconcerting, especially as plenty of other horses have gone in a much smoother fashion over this track. You can’t knock the fact that they have both had success on the surface, but the waters are so much deeper here, that if either win, they beat us entirely. We prefer Prince Bishop of the two to catch a placing.
1st – #5 LEA, 2nd – #9 CALIFORNIA CHROME, 3rd – #6 CANDY BOY, 4th – #1 PRINCE BISHOP, 5th – #2 HOKKO TARUMAE
Good luck and enjoy the 2015 Dubai World Cup!