RACE 5 – $5,000,000 Dubai Duty Free (G1), 1777 meters (about 9 furlongs), turf
#1 BANKABLE (John Murtagh)
Landed a breakthrough win on February 20 but some of his best performances were second place finishes in late summer and early autumn in England, second behind Eagle Mountain, Raven’s Pass, and Passage of Time. He often breaks poorly and is likely to do his running very late. I suspect he will have to run on wide as the chances the rail opens with this field are slim.
#2 GLADIATORUS (Ahmad Ajtebi)
Intriguing chance here for the local horse as he’s done nothing wrong and will right to the front and hope to give them all the slip. This son of Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Silic stayed on and made all the running in two Carnival starts, the first of which came off a monster layoff. After winning the Zabeel Mile (G2) by open space, under a mostly hand ride, Ahmad Ajtebi will hope to settle him down and get as much out of the pacemaker as possible. Everyone agrees that truly making all here is near impossible, he did it twice without being asked. An $8,000 yearling, anything on the board would be great. A win might be asking too much, but give him a shot at a monster price.
#3 VODKA (Yutaka Take)
How on earth did the American morning-line maker take the best in-training female turf horse in the world and make her 10-1? I’d mortgage the house each way is I could get 10-1, but I doubt she will be anything close to that come gate break time. She would actually surpass Curlin in lifetime earnings if she wins this race, and while comparing Japanese earnings and American earnings are rather difficult, it will still be a mammoth achievement. Vodka’s best races have come when second off the layoff and that’s what she is here. Her connections sent her to Dubai to get a race in under her belt and she suffered from a questionable Yutaka Take ride. Could it happen again? Expect her near the finish and a win is highly probable amongst the top contenders.
#4 NICONERO (Craig Williams)
The Aussie connection has landed back-to-back Group Ones and is coming into this race better than last year, but the quality of the competition is suspect as most of the older horses that lead the Australian form guides are on the shelf. He’ll need some other quality horses to have bad runs.
#5 HYPERBARIC (Tyler Baze)
The son of Sky Classic will surely be prominent, probably right behind GLADIATORUS. His class lines in the US are so significantly weaker than the other international contenders. I hope Julio Canani is enjoying his trip.
#6 CREACHADOIR (Ted Durcan)
What a spot to return from a leg injury. I have visions of Tom Durkin referencing Lazarus rising and Da Hoss…if Creachadoir wins, I don’t know what Terry Spargo will say.
#7 KIP DEVILLE (Cornelio Velasquez)
Great turfer in America, but the world stage just isn’t his bag. Without the assistance of Lasix, I think this is asking a lot of him. The price, almost no doubt, will be too short. That being said, Kip Deville is the best American turf horse to run in Dubai. I will wait to see one win internationally before backing an American here on the grass, but if it were to happen, Kip Deville is the chance.
#8 BALIUS (Willie Supple)
Came over the top of all of them when landing the Jebel Hatta (G2) and is 18-for-23 in the money lifetime. He seemed to relish the shorter distance as most of his jumps have been over some slightly longer ground. He is a must use in whatever you do.
#9 ALEXANDROS (Mick Kinane)
Two wins at the Carnival for the homestanding Godolphin is good, but Mick Kinane is riding third fiddle here to Durcan (Creachadoir) and Dettori (Lady Marian). Tall task in deep water here.
#10 ARCHIPENKO (Kevin Shea)
The pick. Probably should have won this race last year if he didn’t wander about at the end and Mike De Kock has just done a fabulous job with him. He was definitely not cranked for the Zabeel Mile (G3) win and he did that without Kevin Shea striking him with the crop. Working over the Nad Al Sheba turf on Tuesday, the son of Kingmambo moved with precision and stands to run the best race of his career.
#11 TUESDAY JOY (Darren Beadman)
The quality of her competition is in question, the quality of her connections is not. This mare is one of Australia’s best and she is just a gusty horse that doesn’t win by much but she stays on when at the front. She has two G1 wins over much longer distances, so the buildup off the layoff to come into this 1777 meters event is fair. Notice she gets a weight break as well for the first time in a long while. Trainer Gai Waterhouse has had Tuesday Joy working over two miles each morning on the turf course – not sure what they were hoping to get out of her, but she’s looked fit. Reminds be a bit of the Kiwi mare, Seachange, who was a cracking sixth here last year.
#12 LADY MARIAN (Lanfranco Dettori)
Improved steadily over 2008 and is likely to appreciate the recent desert rains as her solid performances have come with plenty of give in the ground. The daughter of the classy Nayef (winner of the 2002 Dubai Sheema Classic) races in open company Saturday for just the second time in her life and shortens up as well. How much she’ll improve against these first up is tough to say. At the worst, Frankie lands here.
#13 PACO BOY (Richard Hughes)
The UK favorite, backed into 4-1 from Coral on Thursday, has never won over more than seven furlongs and has never been beyond a mile. Save for his third behind Goldikova and Darjina in the Prix du Moulin, he’s lacked quality performances against top form, most of his success came against lesser than he faces here. I haven’t understood his short prices on the foreign exchanges and think he is a hopeless underlay.
#14 CHARLIE FARNSBARNS (Jamie Spencer)
A shocking upsetter in the Darley (G3) at Newmarket in October when 50-1 and he stands to be an even bigger surprise if he is near the finish Saturday.
#15 JAY PEG (Weichong Marwing)
The 2008 winner made most all of the running from stall 14 and he’ll be one out from there on Saturday, but probably not at 35-1. Notice the improvements he made in 2008 versus his 2009 form and know that he demolished the course record here when winning. With confirmed frontrunner Gladiatorus, Jay Peg might be forced to sit more patiently off the pace and that could benefit him in the going. Once again, he’s not without a decent chance in the 2009 edition. Ignore, AGAIN, at your own risk.
#16 PREVIS (Ryan Moore)
A quality Carnival performer who has never faced anything like what he has in here. A tall task.
No fewer than ten have a chance to land the spoils and I’ll be shocked if the winning margin is more than a length. Balius deserves board-hitting chances given his past form but Archipenko just seems to be going the best. I’m a bit fearful of ignoring Jay Peg, but I’m also bothered that I don’t have Bankable, Lady Marian, Paco Boy, and a few others in the firing lines at the end…but a top four is a top four.
1st – #10 ARCHIPENKO
2nd – #8 BALIUS
3rd – #3 VODKA
4th – #11 TUESDAY JOY