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Take a look back on how Globeform rated and analysed last year’s Dubai World Cup in our comprehensive previews leading up to the big day. It is very interesting reading and shows how each race is treated in our Globeform Special Sections.
Nad Al Sheba 29 Mar 08: The Steve Asmussen trained 4-year-old Curlin, who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) to become Globeform Champion 2007 is rated well clear of his rivals in this year’s Dubai World Cup (G1).
Having cruised home on his seasonal debut over the World Cup course and distance last month, the son of Smart Strike is long odds-on with the bookmakers to win the $6-million contest. And he really does stand out, in a field where there are question marks over both the second and third highest rated horses.
THE DUBAI WORLD CUP (G1)
Nad Al Sheba 29 March 2008 – 2000 m. / 10 fur. dirt
Horses presented with sires, best Globeform
ratings achieved, last four placings, from right to left
(10th or worse = 0), trainers and riders / (1 length = 2lbs)
A “+” after horse indicates improvemnet expected.
# = Same rider as last time. ^ = Better rider than last time.
134 – CURLIN (Smart Strike) + / 1113 / S Asmussen / R Albarado #
128 – PREMIUM TAP (Pleasant Tap) / 1451 / J Gardel / S Madrid #
123 – ASIATIC BOY (Not For Sale) / 3154 / M de Kock / J Murtagh #
118 – JALIL (Storm Cat) + / 1112 / S bin Suroor / L Dettori #
118 – VERMILION (El Condor Pasa) / 1111 / S Ishizaka / Y Take #
117 – A P ARROW (A.P. Indy) / 2133 / T Pletcher / R Dominguez #
117 – LUCKY FIND (Rich Man’s Gold) / 3112 / M de Kock / K Shea #
117 – HAPPY BOY (Ski Champ) / 1134 / S bin Suroor / K McEvoy ^
115 – KOCAB (Unfuwain) / 1532 / A Fabre / S Pasquier #
115 – GLORIA DE CAMPEAO (Impression) / 2226 / P Bary / C-P Lemaire #
113 – WELL ARMED (Tiznow) + / 1214 / E Harty / A Gryder #
111 – GREAT HUNTER (Aptitude) / 8460 /D O’Neill / G Gomez ^
108 – SWAY YED (Nisnas) / 1112 / S Alkhatani / O Peslier ^
Curlin’s last five runs (from left to right):
Globeform 125+ / GF 116+ / GF 130+ / GF 134+ / GF 127+
CURLIN will be a very short priced favourite. To say that he is in the same class as the outstanding 2000 winner Dubai Millennium, or the legendary Cigar, may be a bit premature – but the North American star stands head and shoulders above all his rivals on the big night.
He enjoyed an easy race when winning a handicap over the same 2000 metres as the World Cup in February, when he was never put under any sort of pressure and won as he liked by 2 ¼ lengths from Familiar Territory. The runner-up, who was coming off a good win over the same course and distance, was carrying 7kgs (15lbs) less than Curlin. It was an extremely solid seasonal debut by Asmussen’s star, who looks even stronger than he was last year, when he was Globeform Horse of The Year.
As a three-year-old, Curlin won the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in great style at Monmouth Park, to round off a campaign yielding six wins from nine starts.
Curlin was unraced at two, and thus playing catch-up with his rivals on the way to the Kentucky Derby (G1), where he ran a respectable third behind Street Sense and Hard Spun. He beat the Kentucky Derby winner by a head when they met again in the Preakness Stakes (G1), but was outstayed by the top filly Rags to Riches in the Belmont Stakes (G1). A mile and a half may not have been the biggest problem that day. It made more of an impact that he was giving Rags to Riches five pounds – which equals over three lengths at that distance. And she is pretty good too. Rags to Riches beat him by a head, while the third placed Tiago (a G1 winner both before and after the race) finished 5 ½ lengths behind them.
A break followed for Curlin, and we did not see him again until in the Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth nearly two months later. He ran an even race there, and checked in third behind Any Given Saturday and Hard Spun. The latter had now beaten Curlin twice, though he was third and 4 lengths behind him in the Preakness. The final showdown came at the Breeders’ Cup, and Curlin proved to be the champion, as he beat Hard Spun by 4 ½ lengths to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Awesome Gem finished third, Street Sense was fourth and Tiago took fifth.
On his way to the BC Classic, Curlin went up against older horses at Belmont Park in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and he produced a much, much better performance there than in the Haskell. Coming with strong and determined run in the straight, he beat Lawyer Ron by a neck. Political Force was 4 lengths further adrift in third. We all now knew that Curlin was for real, and we also knew that the North American three-year-olds of 2008 are well up to scratch.
Curlin ran to Globeform 134+ at the Breeders’ Cup, having performed to GF 130+ at Belmont Park four weeks earlier. The BC Classic was his first start over a sloppy track, all his other runs have been on fast tracks. He will be hard to beat at Nad Al Sheba on Saturday.
PREMIUM TAP finished second to Invasor in the World Cup in 2007, if he can reproduce such form he is the most likely runner-up again. That may be a big ‘if’ however, as his recent form in Saudi Arabia has not been too inspiring. He prepped for this by winning an allowance race over a mile (against overmatched rivals) but had previously been well-beaten when fifth and fourth in local G2 and G1 races. He is a bit hard to fancy, based on those efforts, though if Premium Tap does return to his best he will be in the first three.
He improved markedly in the autumn of 2006, when third to Invasor in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs, before winning in the Clark Handicap (G1) in a procession at the same venue three weeks later. Many horses have suffered the dreaded ’bounce’ after good efforts at the Breeders’ Cup, but Premium Tap actually improved on his Classic run in the Clark, and he surely looked a progressive sort at the time.
Premium Tap was clearly the best horse going into the 2007 Clark, but also shouldering what looked a difficult weight task. Out on the track, it was anything but. He raced with great zest throughout, and was never placed worse than third in a strongly run affair. Premium Tap, sent off odds-on favourite under Kent Desormeaux, made his move two furlongs from the winning post. Once into the straight, he quickened away and within a few strides he held a clear lead. The race was soon in safe keeping, and he continued in full flight to the wire, beating Wild Desert by over seven lengths.
Dropping back to 9 furlongs was to his advantage, after the fine effort in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (Gr 1), for which he started 27-1. Nine others were preferred to him in the betting that day. Only two of them ran faster; Invasor, completing a perfect US campaign, and Bernardini, one of the top 3-year-olds around. Premium Tap lost his footing a bit as the gates opened but was soon well in touch, racing in fifth early. He was never a threat to the top two but ran on to hold the late charging Giacomo (the 2005 Kentucky Derby winner) by a length for third.
When he met Invasor again, in the 2007 Dubai World Cup (G1), Premium Tap ran even better than he had in the USA. Keeping on really gamely, he was beaten just 1 ¾ lengths by Invasor, and he finished 8 lengths clear of the third placed horse, Hong Kong runner Bullish Luck. Vermilion was badly beaten in fourth (but has improved since).
ASIATIC BOY’s prep run on Super Thursday was almost “too bad to be true” - compared to his career best. He could manage only third in the Burj Nahaar (G3) behind Godolphin Mile contenders Elusive Warning and Blackat Blackiten, when he was considered the banker of the day. Being beaten by two horses was hardly the World Cup prep we had expected. Can he bounce back on the big night? Elusive Warning and Blackat Blackitten are very nice horses but is it really true that they are both as good as, never mind better than, Asiatic Boy. Probably not. All horses can have a bad day and something was not quite right with Asiatic Boy in the Burj Nahaar, where he was labouring and looking a bit flat as he came home 3 ¼ lengths behind the winner.
His trainer Mike de Kock is a world-class horseman, and he has since explained that the horse was a bit short on work going into that race. If he has Asiatic Boy back to his best form, the colt will come out of the race with a big pay-cheque for his owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum.
Asiatic Boy made a winning comeback over 6 furlongs in the Al Shidagha Sprint (G3) in January, when he worked his way gradually up from a position at the back to gain quite a comfortable 1 ¼-length win over Salaam Dubai, who is a specialist sprinter and ran third to Kelly’s Landing the Golden Shaheen (G1) in 2007.
That he has the speed to win a G3 over a straight sprint distance, tells us what a classy runner Asiatic Boy is. He ran twice on turf in England in 2007, both time quite respectably in Group One company, but was not up to his best dirt form. He was only 2 lengths behind Godolphin’s champion miler Ramonti when fifth in the Sussex Stakes (G1) at Goodwood (a tricky course) and then 7 ¼ lengths behind Epsom Derby (G1) winner Authorized when fifth in the Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) at York.
The son of Not For Sale is without doubt the international flag-bearer of the show at Nad Al Sheba. This colt was bred in Argentina, where he also began his career in good style. Asiatic Boy makes sure fans are tuning in from different corners of the world when he runs for big money in Dubai. He was deeply impressive when winning the UAE Derby (G2) last year, coming home alone - nearly ten lengths clear.
Prior to his Derby win, Asiatic Boy took the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) before stepping successfully up in distance in the Al Bastakiya. He won the Guineas over 1600 metres, when beating the English colt Traffic Guard by 4 ½ lengths, and he turned the 1800-metre Al Bastikyia into yet another procession. His runner-up, the Japanese colt Victory Testuni, was beaten 7 lengths. Then came the Derby on Dubai World Cup night, and as soon as he was being pulled up after winning again people started talking about the 2008 Dubai World Cup.
Asiatic Boy’s overall form is solid. The only weak point in his CV is the result of his most recent race. Ah, well, it was just a ‘prep’ for the big one – and at least he did not leave his best form behind in that race. He has a decent chance of finishing in the first three.
JALIL, at a staggering $9.7 million one of the most expensive yearling purchases the world has seen, is finally beginning to reveal his talent. “Finally” because normally, when a thoroughbred changes hands for millions before he reaches racing age, the buyer is looking for a relatively quick return on the investment. That did not happen in his case, however, but the Godolphin team is a privileged one. They have the patience, and they can afford the time needed to develop horses who blossom at four and five years of age.
This colt seems to be just that type, and he is also clearly a horse who prefers running on dirt, rather than turf. Which is the first little surprise he sprung on his connections, since Jalil is a brother to the North American turf star After Market, a winner of four big races on the lawn in California last year.
Jalil also made his debut on turf, when he turned up for a one-mile maiden event at Newmarket in England in October 2006. All eyes were on this expensive colt of course but perhaps it was a day when the superstitious fans came out better than those who studied form, pedigrees and looks.
It was Friday the 13th… Jalil was a heavy favourite to win the race, which – yes, you guessed it, had 13 runners. What happened? Jalil lost. He finished only sixth, behind a horse called Sam Lord. Oh, in case you did not guess that, Sam Lord’s saddle-cloth number was 13… and for every pound you bet on him to win you would collect 13 pounds! Spooky…
Perhaps it was written in the stars that Jalil would lose that race. It was his only run as a juvenile. He did not do much better in England as a three-year-old though, when he only won a small maiden race at lowly Ripon racecourse from three attempts.
His form at Nad Al Sheba has been so much better, and he has been improving with every run. Jalil made his first start of the year in a handicap over 1800 metres on the dirt track in February, and he won the race quite comfortably by 3 lengths. Two weeks later he was stepped up to 2000 metres, and won again, this time by 2 ½ lengths from the Brazilian import Gloria de Campeano, who was carrying 1kg (2lbs) more than Jalil. They met again in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round III (G2) on Super Thursday, again over 2000 metres on the dirt. This time, there were others who looked stronger on paper, not least contenders like the favourite Lucky Find, Kandidate and Latency. Jalil beat them all, and once more Gloria de Campeano filled second.
Frankie Dettori and Jalil came from the middle of the field, with a long, well-sustained finish, which took them to the lead 200 metres from the winning post. Jalil ran on gamely to win by 1 ½ lengths. As they all carried the same weight, one can say that both he and Gloria de Campeano duplicated their performance from the handicap, but in fact they both improved. Lucky Find, who had won round two of the Maktoum Challenge, was put firmly in his place in third.
Jalil is a progressive horse, and it is quite likely that he will improve again in the future. That said, meeting Curlin is a different ballgame, and it would be some performance by the Godolphin runner if he were to match strides with the North American champion in the Dubai World Cup.
VERMILION was fouth last year, beaten by Invasor, Premium Tap and Bullish Luck. On paper, that may look good enough to beat many of this year’s runners but the Japanese horse was beaten 15 lengths and he only had three behind him, so why is he fancied by quite a few experts? Because he has improved since. He beat 15 rivals when landing the Japan Cup Dirt (G1) over 10.5 furlongs at Tokyo Racecourse last November. Racing over a track described as ‘standard’ (probably fast to good), he was 1 ¼ lengths too quick for Field Rouge, with Sunrise Bachus third. The last named had won the February Stakes (G1) in 2007. Vermilion went on to win this year’s February Stakes, run over a mile at the same venue last month. This time he beat Blue Concorde by 1 ¾ lengths as the 3-2 favourite. Blue Concorde had been second also in the 2007 edition but he was well beaten twice by Vermilion last autumn.
Japan’s best dirt runners have improved over the years but they are nowhere near as good as their best turf horses and, though Vermilion is in the form of his life, it is hard to see him pose a threat to Curlin. Can he beat the others? Perhaps. He has won all his four races since visited Nad Al Sheba 12 months ago, and he has won 11 of his 22 career starts. He came from just off the pace in the February, where he took the lead 300 metres out. Vermillion was further back early on when winning the Japan Cup Dirt, where his time of 2.08,0 equalled the track record set by Kane Hekili in the same race in 2006. Kane Hekili also took the February Stakes on his next start, before passing the post fifth in the Dubai World Cup (well behind Electrocutionist).
CURLIN IS AN EXCEPTIONAL HORSE, in what is far from a vintage field. His current odds of 1-2 may seem short but, as people are quite happy to back football teams at such odds these days, many will argue that it is good value. And it probably is. Based on Globeform ratings, Curlin is well clear of his rivals. And if you take out the highest ratings for Premuim Tap and Asiatic Boy (as they are from last year), you find that he should win the World Cup by at least five lengths. Predicting the runner-up is not at all easy. If the pace is strong early on, longshots like A P Arrow, from North America, and Kocab, from France, could roll on from the back, passing tired horses in the closing stages on the contest.
This is race to watch and enjoy, not one to bet on. If you fancy a couple of value exacta bets, why not play A P Arrow and Kocab behind Curlin - one of them may just manage to get up for second through stamina. Though Jalil is the one who should take second, unless his attempt at matching strides with Curlin costs him dearly.
A: 12 CURLIN
B: 8 JALIL
C: 9 ASIATIC BOY, 4 KOCAB, 13 A P ARROW, 7 VERMILION
Last update: 2009-03-12 17:13:05 (First published: 2009-02-18 08:13:21 )
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