The seventh night of the 2015 Dubai World Cup Carnival is led by the Balanchine for fillies and mares of 1,800 meters and the Dubai Millennium over 2,000 meters, both on the grass. Add in a pair of wildly competitive dirt handicaps plus a wild crapshoot over the straight 1,000 meters and it makes for a solid day of racing.
CLICK HERE for the free US-style past performances, courtesy AmWest Entertainment (date for Feb 19 will show when available)
Race 1 – $40,000 Bani Yas for purebred Arabians (G2), sponsored by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum City District One – 1,400m – dirt
#4 BIGG N RICH is twice a winner over the dirt and has faced either side of #8 AF LAFEH over the course. There aren’t many decent races over this trip for the purebreds, so you won’t find much form in that sense. Here, we’ll side with the likely-to-be-more-forwardly-placed Bigg N Rich as AF Lafeh might be getting going too late. #3 AREEM is the pace presence and on the big cutback, he is a threat to take them all the way.
1st – #4 BIGG N RICH, 2nd – #8 AF LAFEH, 3rd – #3 AREEM
Race 2 – $175,000 Meydan Sobha Handicap (Rated 100+) – 1,000m – turf
There is only one new face in this group, #8 HIGH ON LIFE, who often goes forward in the running. Everyone else has appeared in some race over the straight course and it makes for an interesting contest. #2 HOTOTO was our pick on opening night and he really did not disappoint. He beat #11 FITYAAN, #7 CASPIAN PRINCE, #10 AJJAADD, and #5 SIR MAXIMILIAN, not to mention being well in front of Ahtoug, who came back to win and defeat several of these. Hototo holds massive claims yet again.
An absolutely top first local effort was landed by #3 LANCELOT DU LAC last time out and now comes back with a more favorable outside draw. He may have hit the front a bit too soon last time and swings back into it. With a better timed gambit, he’s in with a shot.
The pick, however, is #1 MEDICEAN MAN. One of things that interests here is that he was held-up for a run last time and didn’t exactly have the clearest of passages, forcing Harry Bentley to switch out across the back of horses. With 300 meters to run, you would have been hard-pressed to think Medicean Man was only to be beaten 1.5 lengths, but the old boy ran on well. He won this race last year when second-up, but does have to contend with the top weight. There should be some value here.
1st – #1 MEDICEAN MAN, 2nd – #2 HOTOTO, 3rd – #3 LANCELOT DU LAC
Race 3 – $110,000 Meydan Sobha Handicap (Rated 95-105) – 1,600m – dirt
This is one of a pair of wildly competitive dirt handicaps on the program. A step down in company comes for #1 HAATHEQ, who is as consistent as a clock this time of year – he doesn’t win often but nearly always get a shout in the late stages. The only thing that would seemingly surprise is he did land in front as it happens so rarely. We won’t discount it, though.
#2 ROMANSH was pinched about and blundered early in the Firebreak and essentially took no part. He is right back but has to prove it to us. This is a much easier lot than what he was facing in America.
They just never stop with #14 BUSKER, do they? He was hampered in the Romansh fiasco last week and while being forced way out of his game, came home with the quickest final 400 meters. Sure, he wasn’t asked to run early at all and had plenty left in the tank, but he did it fairly easily (for a horse beaten 18 lengths). There is no way we can put him on top, but expect a better run with a less troublesome trip.
Two horses familiar in the local races make their first appearance at the Carnival for the big money. #13 LAYL and #15 FILFIL step up in company and Layl gets a first-time visor for the promotion, which shouldn’t hurt. He looked a good thing last week only to be caught by a re-rallying stable companion when perhaps loafing on the front-end. The visor should keep focused and that effort last week was generally classier, in our mind, than the company Filfil has kept. That horse loves eating the dirt and closing in from off the pace. He’ll just have to pass more quality animals on this occasion, and that could get tricky.
#6 YARD LINE makes his local debut for Godolphin after recording a maiden win at Santa Anita on dirt last June. He was never medicated with Lasix, as of course would also be the case in the UAE, and he does often race with prominence, something that won’t hurt over this surface.
The luck has not been with #14 BANNOCK, who proved he can get over the track, but is likely to have to plot a wide course from gate 14, along with #12 DRAGON FALLS, drawn in 15, and another who merits consideration. #10 ZAIN SHAMARDAL is not without interest too.
A very tough call, but we will side with Layl to improve over the cutback, a reduction in weight, the addition of a visor, and general race fitness.
1st – #13 LAYL, 2nd – #1 HAATHEQ, 3rd – #6 YARD LINE
Race 4 – $200,000 Dubai Millennium Stakes (Listed) sponsored by Meydan Sobha – 2,000m – turf
#5 HUNTER’S LIGHT took a step down in company, winning a handicap on January 29, and rolled the field, doing it fairly easily over course and distance. Now he’s back in three weeks, which we should presumably take as a sign of his healthy condition after making just two starts at last year’s Carnival. Having covered the widest trip last time, doing it from gate thirteen, he showed proficiency against a decent bunch while carrying top-weight and now is back on levels. Do we get consecutive top efforts from this guy? A legitimate question.
#7 UMGIYO was wildly impressive first-up in a turf handicap over 1,800. While he looked sensational flying from last to pass the field in the stretch, the group he beat has not exactly come back to excite, and that causes some concern.
#2 CALLING OUT is a compelling new shooter for David Simcock. Just turning four, he was in some top company in France and handled it well while not landing a winning blow. As such, he’s winless since his juvenile season, but seems confidently placed to go here then progress on to Super Saturday. That confidence is encouraging.
Without winning this year, #8 MR POMMEROY has put in two nice efforts and gets a softer group here. He might be stuck for it on top again, but another placing seems well within reach.
1st – #5 HUNTER’S LIGHT, 2nd – #2 CALLING OUT, 3rd – #7 UMGIYO
Race 5 – $150,000 District One Handicap (Rated 95+) – 2,000m – dirt
#3 I’M BACK has rocketed up the handicap through the Carnival and might be carrying a lot more weight this week (not because of that rating, but just the general support he’s likely to take). He was drawn on the rail last time and is lucky enough to get it again in a bulky field of sixteen that features plenty who have run well on the surface.
#2 LE BERNARDIN is a course and distance winner but does catch a tougher bunch here. He nearly landed the spoils in the Maktoum Challenge and has shown proficiency-a-plenty this season on the dirt. There is no reason to not expect another big run, though he could end up covering more ground than I’m Back.
#5 ARTIGIANO doesn’t have the best draw in gate eleven but proved his abilities on dirt last time. It’s dirt pedigree through and through on this guy who now adds blinkers. He was marooned so much wider than I’m Back last time, going 23 meters more than the winner, and there could be a similar setup again. He was under a ride for the final 800 meters and only made a slight impression at the end. To his benefit, though, is an extra 100 meters and some added race fitness. To his detriment, he could have just clunked along in those final stages. Blinkers should be a enhancement.
#8 FARRIER and #9 STORM BELT both had issues in their trips last time and stand ready to move forward, and both offer some value. The former had a troubled rail trip while the latter was shuffled back farther than preferred last time and was closing quickest of all over 1,900, now getting 2,000. #11 HENRY CLAY is drawn in gate 15 and might need to be bustled to go on with things, possibly softening I’m Back on the front end.
It’s not very straightforward as many variables comes into play here. The draw could be the tipping point.
1st – #3 I’M BACK, 2nd – #5 ARTIGIANO, 3rd – #9 STORM BELT
Race 6 – $200,000 Balanchine (G2) – 1,800m – turf
#9 CLADOCERA was impressive in her first-up win, a two-length score in the Cape Verdi, but we just still don’t think much of this group and have been craving a new shooter amongst these fillies. This race is essentially a rematch of the Cape Verdi, just over an extra 200 meters, with one exception – the addition of Turkey’s champion filly, #5 SUZI GOLD.
A winner of half her lifetime races, her C.V. is topped by the win in the Cumhurbaşkanlığı, Turkey’s top weight-for-age race, and is Turkey’s second highest-rated Thoroughbred. She doesn’t often race towards the front, and that could be slightly problematic in this field, rife with horses that want to settle somewhat off the pace and not really mix it up, but we think she can be versatile.
The races from Turkey might not catch the eye for many, but they are impressive. Perhaps she won’t handle a one-turn 1,800, and wants more ground, in which case we’ll go away sulking. She has shown versatility in the past and it’s enough for us to take a chance in this spot, especially against a favorite who is relatively short on experience, something we know Suzi Gold isn’t lacking.
1st – #5 SUZI GOLD, 2nd – #9 CLADOCERA, 3rd – #8 ZURIGHA
Race 7 – $175,000 District One Handicap (Rated 100+) – 1,400m – turf
#2 EASTERN RULES won this last year and now has to manage from gate 15. #1 ANAEROBIO took a step back into this spot last year third off the shelf and was only fifth to Eastern Rules, now he’s second-up and drawn in gate 12. Both, naturally, have claims, even if they might have to cover some extra ground. Last time out for each, in the Al Fahidi Fort, Eastern Rules knocked Anaerobio off stride and forced him into a tough spot, which then led Christophe Soumillon to duck out around rivals and run on from there. Jockey Shane Foley was ditched for two meetings as a result of the infraction, and tables might be turned here.
There is nothing wrong with what #4 DARK EMERALD has done this Carnival. He nearly won two back and then did it easily over a trip generally viewed as short of his best. He’s in top nick and could catch them again.
These shorter trips seems best for #15 WHISTLE STOP and he gets back over his most successful distance after having tested waters over farther. The South African quarantine-induced layoff is a question, but if fit, he holds claims off a low weight.
It seems wrong to hold the dirt experiment against #3 SIRIUS PROSPECT, who is back on grass and actually gets a slight weight break over some of his more recent efforts. Granted, his two most recent wins came on all-weather, but he’s been knocking heads in some big fields and running credibly.
#16 COUNTERGLOW is likely to be a massive longshot, but he sure has done all his best racing on grass and without many attempts locally. Sure, he’s had some issues, but is far from the craziest horse to grab third or fourth at a monster price.
At the end of the day, the two top-weights seem likely and most logical.
1st – #1 ANAEROBIO, 2nd – #2 EASTERN RULES, 3rd – #4 DARK EMERALD