Dubai World Cup: Ready for the rematch!
by Geir Stabell (firstname.lastname@example.org) / Globeform (http://www.globeform.com)
Last update: 2007-03-30 15:11:44 (First published: 2007-03-16 14:47:57 )
Nad Al Sheba 31 Mar: This will be quite a race. The $6-million Dubai World Cup (G1) only gets a seven-runner field but this is all class.
And it's a rematch - between Discreet Cat and Invasor, whose only defeat in 2006 came when "The Cat" beat him in the UAE Derby (G2).
Discreet Cat, rated as the best horse in the world by Globeform in 2006, is set to meet Invasor, the horse who was top ranked in the world by the official handicapping panel. This may not be a story of just two horses though, as the improving Premium Tap also joins in, after a nice prep win in Saudi Arabia last month. He had Forty Licks well beaten that day, but the latter was named Horse of The Year in Argentina in 2005 and must be respected.
Storm Mayor dropped out on Tuesday.
DUBAI WORLD CUP (G1)
Nad Al Sheba 31 March 2007 – 2000 metres / 10 furlongs dirt
Horses presented with best Globeform, sires, GF last three starts, rider
133 – DISCREET CAT (Forestry) GF ?++ 129+ 133+ / L Dettori
129 – INVASOR (Candy Ride) GF 122+ 129+ 120+ / F Jara
128 – PREMIUM TAP (Pleasant Tap) GF 122+ 128 – 120+ / K Desormeaux
120 – FORTY LICKS (Not For Sale) GF 120 in 2005 / ?+ ?+ 115 / M Kinane
120 - BULLISH LUCK (Royal Academy) GF ? – 114 – 118 / B Prebble
118 – KANDIDATE (Kabool) GF 118 – 0 – 118 / S Sanders
114 – VERMILION (El Condor Pasa) GF 111 – 112 – 114 / C P Lemaire
Discreet Cat is our selection here. He has the superior class, he has home advantage, and all this talk about him not staying is pure speculation. In quite a small field, he has an excellent chance of getting a race run to suit him, and he will be tough to beat.
Godolphin’s star was Globeform Champion last year, when he won all his five races and rounded the campaign off with a powerful display in the Cigar Mile (Gr 1). The son of Forestry produced Globeform 133+ as he outclassed older rivals in New York.
With Silver Train and Badge of Silver in opposition, Discreet Cat was up against a pair of proven, older Grade One performers. It was the first time he met older horses, and he won comfortably by 3 ¼ lengths. Badge of Silver and Silver Train both ran a good race, without producing their absolute best. Even if they had, they would still have been beaten by Discreet Cat. He ran the mile in 1:32.46, just 6/100 sec. outside the track record. It could easily have been broken and Discreet Cat confirmed what many had suspected for a long time; that he was a world class thoroughbred. Badge of Silver had been third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) on his previous start, while Silver Train won the Met Mile (G1) at in the summer, having also landed the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (Gr 1) in 2005.
Discreet Cat had won the Jerome Handicap (G2) on his previous start, nearly two months prior to the Cigar. He simply blew his opponents away to win by 10 ¼ lengths. Admittedly, with Valid Notebook second, Nar third and only two others in the field, this was nowhere near Grade One standard. Discreet Cat’s style revealed him as a top class runner, however, as he improved to Globeform 129+ in this race. He had previously won a 7-furlong allowance race at Saratoga, cantering home by 11 lengths.
Make no mistake, Discreet Cat is one of the best horses seen for a long time. He has not yet produced form as exceptional as the legendary Dubai Millennium, but Discreet Cat’s career is not over – and he may well prove to be just as good as the winner of the Dubai World Cup (Gr 1) in 2000. Dubai Millennium performed to Globeform 139, a truly amazing rating.
Discreet Cat will be up against two serious US challengers in the World Cup, where he will also be trying 1 ¼ miles for the first time. He will probably have to stay every bit of the testing distance, to beat last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (Gr 1) winner Invasor and Premium Tap, who impressed in the Clark Handicap (Gr 1) and had a nice prep winning the King’s Cup in Saudi Arabia in February. If Discreet Cat stays the trip, he will win the World Cup. Will he stay? Well, that may be a tough call, though I believe he will. He has a lot of speed, but he can travel kindly just off the pace, and – perhaps more importantly – there is no way he would have won last year’s UAE Derby (Gr 2) if he had been a pure miler. That classic was run at a solid early pace, and Discreet Cat stayed on in great style, to beat Testimony by 6 lengths. Testimony was no star but Discreet Cat was so much the best in the 9-furlong event, and he had Invasor back in fourth. On that day, not many would have doubted his stamina. Such theories have emerged as a result of him flashing world class speed in America. What’s wrong with a horse that stays, and also has top class speed, you may ask. Nothing. Nothing at all. And that is why they all have him to beat. Discreet Cat is the complete racehorse, and he will probably win again.
He missed his planned prep run, in the Burj Nahaar (Gr 3), due to fever, but that may have been a very good thing, as a mile race in a 15-runner field may not have been the ideal way to prepare for his first test over 1 ¼ miles. Sure, he would have won it, but a whole bunch would have been trying to press him early, he could have been in traffic problems or he could have been forced wide. Such an experience would have ’jazzed’ him up unnecessarily prior to the World Cup, and perhaps caused him to pull on the big day. As he comes fresh to the $6-million race, Discreet Cat will be relaxed and well balanced, convinced that he is in for yet another win.
He may well be dead right about that.
INVASOR was Globeform’s top rated older horse last year. After making his seasonal debut at Nad Al Sheba 12 months ago, he improved steadily to a career best when he beat Bernardini and Premium Tap in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (Gr 1) last November, producing Globeform 129+. After sitting at the back of the field early on, he worked his way up to a challenging position rounding the final bend. He still seemed to be running for second at best as they entered the straight, simply because Bernardini had kicked clear and looked full of energy. Perhaps he was, but it was still not enough to deny Invasor. He came with a determined finish, to outstay Bernardini at the end of the 10-furlong contest, and win by solid a length. Premium Tap was 2 ½ lengths further back in third.
Breeders’ Cup day was Invasor’s first start for three months. That is an unusually long break when getting ready for the BC Classic, but Invasor is – and has always been – a horse who goes well fresh. He had been off for over five months when winning his first stakes race in Uruguay as a 3-year-old, where he won all his five starts, and he was impressive off a near two-month layoff when landing the Pimlico Special (Gr 1) on his US debut. He put up a solid performance – taking that race by quite an easy 1 ¼ lengths from Wanderin Boy, after having raced close to the pace throughout.
That was Invasor’s first of five straight wins in USA, and he has lost just once in his career (it happened at Nad Al Sheba). After taking the Pimlico, he won the Suburban Handicap (Gr 1) at Belmont Park on July 1, and became a serious BC Classic contender. Although the opposition was not top class, the Suburban drew a decent seven-runner field and Invasor proved by far the best. He had a troubled start but was soon close to the pace, and he kicked clear in the straight to beat Wild Desert by 4 ¼ lengths. He was very strong at the finish and value for more than the official margin.
He confirmed his high class in the Whitney Handicap (Gr 1) at Saratoga in August. He was much the best when gaining a nose-win over a late charging Sun King - who was receiving 1,5kgs. The pair drew 5 ¾ lengths clear of the third-placed horse, West Virginia. This win was not as easy but, despite being a photo finish winner, Invasor looked a class apart. His runner-up, Sun King, was coming off a second to Premium Tap in the Albert the Great at Belmont, and went on to run third to that same rival in the Woodward (Gr 1) at Saratoga next time out.
Invasor ran into all sorts of trouble when making his 2007 debut in the Donn Hcap (G1), but when he found racing room, his class told. The son of Candy Stripes shot through for an easy win over Hesanoldsalt, with A.P. Arrow third. The Kiaran McLaughlin trained champion, who had not run since beating Bernardini in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), looked high class again, though the race was not particularly good. He performed to Globeform 120+ as he won by 2 lengths, and his winning time was 1:48.43. Fernando Jara was criticised after the race, for having made a daring move by the rail rounding the home turn and finding his path blocked. Normally, in a Grade One, this is a good move, as some of the leaders tire while the class runners keep on – and the gaps therefore open. In this case, it did not work out; simply because Jara found himself behind horses who all dropped back into his face before they entered the home stretch. Given a clear run, Invasor would have won by at least another length, possibly more.
We should not forget, however, that quite a few horses around would have been able to beat Hesanoldsalt at these weight terms. We learnt nothing new about Invasor.
’’We want ten furlongs, and we are looking forward to a rematch with Discreet Cat in the Dubai World Cup’’, the winning trainer said, ‘’it will be level weights this time – last year we had to give ten pounds to Invasor, and he was not quite the same horse then. He is better now’’.
With Grade 2/3 horses in second and third, the third placed even racing with four pounds overweight, this was a rather bloodless victory – but we could all see one thing; Invasor has retained all his enthusiasm for the game.
PREMIUM TAP improved markedly last autumn, when third to Invasor in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (Gr 1) at Churchill Downs, before winning in the Clark Handicap (Gr 1) 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 is a progressive sort – who may improve again.
He was clearly the best horse going into the Clark, but also shouldering what looked a difficult weight task. Out on the track, it was anything but. Premium Tap raced with great zest throughout, and was never placed worse than third in a strongly run affair. Premium Tap, odds-on favourite and ridden by 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. He achieved Globeform 128 for this, his career best, win.
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 of last year. 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.
Prior to the Breeders’ Cup, Premium Tap had raced eight times in 2006, won three races and lost on a day he should have won. Having landed the Albert the Great Stakes at Belmont (from Sun King), and progressed to an half-length upset over Second of June in the Woodward Stakes (Gr 1) at Saratoga (via a fifth in the Whitney Handicap (Gr 1)), he was a short priced favourite for the Kentucky Cup Classic (Gr 2) at Turfway Park in September. He was travelling extremely well when clipping heels on the home turn, and lost a lot of ground – but rallied late and came home fifth, just 1 ½ lengths behind Ball Four. That was his prep for the BC Classic and it was frustrating, to say the least, but he did gain some experience.
And Premium Tap comes to Nad Al Sheba with that vital ’experience account’ in good shape. He ran a good prep race when an easy winner of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup at King Abdulaziz in Riyadh last month. Having a race under his belt is to his advantage but, although his win in Saudi Arabia was over 12 furlongs, there is still one worry about Premium Tap; will he stay the World Cup trip in a strongly run race? If the race had been over 9 furlongs, one would have to give him a serious chance. On the other hand, over such a trip Discreet Cat would be awfully tough to beat.
If one of the two big favourites fail to shine on the night, Premium Tap, who is such a solid runner, will be there to take full advantage.
A: 1 DISCREET CAT
B: 7 INVASOR
C: 5 PREMIUM TAP
WIN: 1 Discreet Cat
1 EXACTA: 1 with 7
1 TRIFECTA: 1 with 7 with 5
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