This Saturday’s Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream Park will certainly have the eyes of those considering the Dubai World Cup. The older-horse feature of the Gulfstream meet, the Donn has been the most successful stepping-stone for World Cup winners.
Cigar first used the race in 1996 before tasting victory in the inaugural Dubai World Cup, Captain Steve managed the feat in 2001, and Invasor most recently completed the Donn-to-Dubai double in 2007. Harlan’s Holiday and Medaglia d’Oro, both second in the Dubai World Cup in 2003 and 2004, respectively, won the Donn in their final starts before the desert-bound trip. Brass Hat, the 2006 Donn champion, was second in the World Cup to Electrocutionist but later disqualified after trace amounts of a banned substance were found.
This year, without a major player in the handicap division of American racing, and given the country’s domination of the $6,000,000 race, focusing on the Donn is natural.
A.P. ARROW and GREAT HUNTER, fourth and fifth in the 2008 Dubai World Cup, are 10-1 and 15-1, respectively, on the morning line of this year’s Donn. Most of the attention will be paid to Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner ALBERTUS MAXIMUS (pictured below) and Rick Dutrow-trainee, ARSON SQUAD. Graham Motion’s improving and lightly-raced BULLSBAY along with FINALLYMADEIT and SIR WHIMSEY round out the Dubai World Cup nominees amongst the Donn starters.
Barring a major upset, it is probable to expect that the winner of this race would assume narrow favorite status for the 2009 World Cup.