Dubai World Cup: Albertus Maximus meets Asiatic Boy
by Geir Stabell (email@example.com) / Globeform (http://www.globeform.com)
Last update: 2009-03-28 08:56:54 (First published: 2009-03-25 09:59:55 )
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DUBAI WORLD CUP 2009
Nad Al Sheba Saturday: Two horses, both with a name beginning with “A”, stick out from the rest in this year’s Dubai World Cup (G1), but not by much.
It makes sense to put last year’s runner-up Asiatic Boy and this year’s Donn Handicap winner Albertus Maximus up as the two favourites, but this World Cup is not a two-horse race. Whereas they both come here with first rate credentials, in a year when the $6-million race is lacking an outstanding star, they are not lengths ahead of their closest rivals. Well Armed, who was just a neck behind Asiatic Boy here twelve months ago, has improved since, and he did beat ‘Albertus’ once last year. He must also have a chance.
My Indy, winner of the first two legs of the Al Maktoum Series, is an improving sort – and he has already beaten Asiatic Boy this winter. He must have a chance. Casino Drive, one of the top dirt horses in Japan, and very much a performer in the same mould, is a talented colt with a pedigree to die for. He must have a chance. Then there is Snaafy, the biggest improver during the Carnival weeks. Does he have a chance also? Maybe.
DUBAI WORLD CUP (G1)
Nad Al Sheba 28 March 2009 – 2000m / 10 fur. dirt
Horses presented with best Globeform, sire, last placings
(most recent first / 0 = worse than 9th) / trainer and jockey.
A “+” after the horse indicates improvement expected.
# = Same jockey as last time out
^ = Better jockey than last time out
123 – ASIATIC BOY (Not For Sale) GF 123 - 2008 / GF 119+ / 1323 / M de Kock / J Murtagh #
118 – ALBERTUS MAXIMUS (Albert the Great) + / 11315 / K McLaughlin / A Garcia #
120 – WELL ARMED (Tiznow) / 24912 / E Harty / A Gryder #
118 – CASINO DRIVE (Mineshaft) + / 2160 / K Fujisawa / K Ando #
116 – MY INDY (Indygo Shiner) + / 11632 / S bin Suroor / L Dettori #
117 – SNAAFY (Kingmambo) / 1113 / M Al Muhairi / R Hills #
117 – ARSON SQUAD (Brahms) GF 117 Feb 07 / GF 113 / 44721 / R Dutrow Jr / E Prado
114 – HAPPY BOY (Ski Champ) / 2076 / M bin Shafya / A Ajtebi #
114 – GLORIA DE CAMPEAO (Impression) / 1458 / P Bary / J Leme #
114 – MUHANNAK (Chester House) / 5711 / R Beckett / R Moore
112 – JOE LOUIS (Lode) / 3111 / J Barton / W Ramos #
112 – MULLER (El Compinche) / 1221 / N Bruss / W Marwing ^
111 – PARIS PERFECT (Muhtafal) / 2511 / N Bruss / B Fayd’Herbe #
110 – ANAK NAKAL (Victory Gallop) + / 74721 / N Zito / J Bravo #
ALBERTUS MAXIMUS is our selection in this year’s World Cup. The US raider is coming off a game win in the Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream Park, and he is as short as 2-1 with English bookmakers. That is a skinny price, in what looks an open race, but Albertus Maximus is the loGical choice. So often a good pointer to the World Cup, the 9-furlong Donn at Gulfstream Park is seen as the key prep race to the $6-million event in the desert.
A North American dirt star does not have to win the Donn to justify a trip to Dubai, but trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was well pleased when his charge beat Finallymadeit to land the Donn, in what was his first start back since Albertus Maximus took the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita last October. More importantly, his win at Gulfstream Park proved that Albertus Maximus can handle a conventional dirt track. His best previous form had come over artificial surfaces.
Shadwell bought this son of Albert the Great after his win at the Breeders’ Cup, and transferred him from trainer Vladimir Cerin to McLaughlin. The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile was Albertus Maximum’s fifth win in 15 starts and he was visiually most impressive as he beat Rebellion with a storming late run at Santa Anita. Though his best result in G1 company last year was a third in the Goodwood Stakes last autumn, behind Well Armed, another World Cup contender. Albertus Maximus has clearly improved since that run, however, and he looks the one to beat in the Dubai World Cup. He may not be another Invasor, but he may not need to be, and his credentials make him the top contender here.
ASIATIC BOY, runner-up last year and back to winning form on his most recent start, also holds a first class chance of lifting this valuable prize. Guaranteed to stay the trip, a horse with plenty of experience over the track, and trained by a man who has been the top handler at the Carnivals over the years, Asiatic Boy will get plenty of support on Saturday. There is a fair chance that he, and not Albertus Maximus, will be the favourite in the international pools.
He returned to winning form in the Maktoum Challenge III (G2) on Super Thursday, when he had to overcome a bad post position to get clean run. Asiatic Boy had to break sharply, so sharply he put his head a bit up in the air as if he was saying to rider Johnny Murtagh “hey, no hurry”. His jockey was forced to push him to get a position from his wide post, even more so to keep his slot around the turn, when Asiatic Boy was racing in fourth / fifth just a few lengths off the pace. But when the chips were down at the finish, the favourite for the Al Maktoum Challenge III showed his class. Kirklees, who had raced up in the firing line for most of the way, committed early under Dettori but was soon a spent force. Then came Happy Boy, who had caught Asiatic Boy in a battle for second in round two of the series (won by My Indy), but this time he could not match strides with the son of Not For Sale. This was Asiatic Boy’s seventh win from 14 starts.
Mike de Kock’s contender for the World Cup ran a good prep - but he also had a hard race. Most likely, he is tough enough to take it. He was the top three-year-old at the 2006 Carnival, when landing both the Guineas and Derby at Nad Al Sheba and, though his form was less consistent last year, he came good at the right time; running second to Curlin in the World Cup. Many will look at that result and think that he was as good that day as he had been 12 months earlier, but he was not. Asiatic Boy was beaten almost eight lengths by Curlin, and did run below his career best. At his best, he has been capable of Globeform 123. A level that will probably be enough to win this year’s World Cup.
WELL ARMED met Albertus Maixmus in a Grade 1 contest last year, and came out much the best, winning the Goodwood Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita from Tiago, another high-class Californian, with ‘Albertus’ back in third. Still, Well Armed is an 8-1 shot. Is this a case when we reach for the American phrase “go figure”? Albertus Maximus has improved since that meeting last autumn, and won two big races, once with Well Armed well behind. Well Armed, on the other hand, has the advantage of experince with Nad Al Sheba. He was third last year, behind Curlin and Asiatic Boy.
The six-year-old Eoin Harty trained World Cup contender also raced at Nad Al Sheba as a three-year-old, when handled by Clive Brittain, and there is little doubt about who is the battle hardened and most experienced contender for the big race. That has to be Well Armed. He was last last seen in action in the San Antonio Handicap (G2) at Santa Anita in February. Racing over the same 9-furlong trip as in the Goodwood, the son of Tiznow performed really well under a tough weight, to be runner-up a length behind Magnum. This was his second outing of the year, following a positive seasonal debut in the San Pasqual Handicap (G2) four weeks earlier, when Well Armed checked in fourth behind the subsequent Strub Stakes (G2) winner Cowboy Cal. Conceding 4lb, Well Armed was beaten just two lengths that day. Godolphin Mile (G2) contender Informed finished second in the San Pasqual, and he was fourth in the San Antonio.
Last year, Well Armed also used the San Antonio as his World Cup prep, and beat the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) winner Heatseeker to land the valuable prize. Seven weeks later he ran third in the Dubai World Cup, 8 lengths behind the outstanding Curlin but only a neck behind Asiatic Boy, who failed to produce his very best on the big day. Well Armed, Asiatic Boy and Albertus Maximus are closely matched on Globeform ratings. Albertus Maximus may be the most likely improver, though both Well Armed and Asiatic Boy combine proven stamina with track experience, and neither will be easy to beat.
MY INDY is interesting, though his chances have been played down somewhat by his connections. The ‘boys in blue’ could perhaps be in for a pleasant surprise.
Godolphin’s steadily improving World Cup contender, who was bred in Argentina, is the one who – on paper – has a profile making him open to massive improvement. South American thoroughbreds are often slow to mature but when they come good, they come really good. My Indy has probably yet to reach his full potential, though his wins in the first two rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge Series mean that he sits quite high on the rankings already.
His clash with last year’s World Cup runner-up Asiatic Boy in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round II (G3) here at Nad Al Sheba early in February was greatly anticipated. Experts saw it as two-horse affair, but the big match never developed. Whereas My Indy continued his fine progress and won under Frankie Dettori, Asiatic Boy tired close home and could manage only third. Happy Boy, bouncing back to something like his previous best, got up for second. My Indy took the 1800-metres race by only three parts of a length but it was quite a comfortable win. Three weeks earlier he had romped home in the first round of the series, beating Green Coast by almost six lengths after travelling extremely well throughout the contest. Striding smoothly away from the pack that day, My Indy opened up a clear lead and, despite swishing his tail a couple of times in the closing stages, he finished the race off in good style. One big plus about his win in the second round was that the swishing of the tail (often a negative sign) was no longer there.
The fact that he swished it on his seasonal debut can be put down to inexperience, rather than any form of resistance under pressure. My Indy is going through a maturing process these days, and he is lengths better than his form of last year, when he ran third in the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) and sixth in the UAE Derby (G2), both times trailing the classy Honour Devil, who he may meet again if he goes for the Dubai World Cup (G1). My Indy has looked quite solid in his two runs at this year’s Carnival, and one would think the World Cup is a race that will suit him. That his form has been advertised by Asiatic Boy’s win in the Maktoum Challenge III also says that My Indy deserves to get this crack at the $6-million dollar showpiece.
My Indy is a half-brother to Oystercatcher, a Group 3 winning sprinter by Luhuk. By a son of the excellent Belmont Stakes (G1) winner A.P. Indy out of a daughter of Southern Halo, there is every chance of My Indy staying 2000 metres, and it is also worth noting that he won the Martinez Stakes (G2) over 1800 metres in Argentina as a juvenile, coming home by four lengths on heavy ground at Palermo. He must have shown a fair amount of stamina that day, and if he does so again in a World Cup run, My Indy should finish in the top three.
Can he win it? It is not out of reach, another two to three lengths of improvement, and My Indy is right there. With four wins from just seven starts, there should be a lot more to come form this runner.
CASINO DRIVE, winner of the Peter Pan Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park in May last year, represents Japan, and he seems to have matured into a classy performer now. His latest run, when finishing a close second to Success Brocken in the one-mile February Stakes (G1) in Tokyo, was his career best. There could be better to come, and this colt is certainly bred to stay the 10-furlong trip. He is a half-brother to two Belmont Stakes (G1) winners; Rags to Riches (who beat Curlin at Belmont) and Jazil. Casino Drive was coming off an easy win in a minor stakes at Nakayama, and he has started the year in good style. The last time he tried his luck in top class, international company, was when he was well beaten behind Raven’s Pass in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) but Casino Drive was nowehere near experienced enough for such a race at that stage. He will probably run a lot better at Nad Al Sheba.
ARSON SQUAD’s best form lies way back in February 2007, while the locally trained SNAAFY produced his career best last time out. He has been the biggest improver in Dubai this winter, and Snaafy could well finish in the top four or five. He relishes a test of stamina and earned his crack at the big pot with a taking performance last time out.
HAPPY BOY, MUHANNAK and GLORIA DE CAMPEAO, all capable of Globeform 114, are nice horses but should not be good enough to make an impact here. If a surprise is to pop up from this trio, it is most likely to be Gloria de Campeao, who won really well last time out and may be a horse with some improvement still to come.
A: 10 ALBERTUS MAXIMUS
B: 4 ASIATIC BOY
C: 7 WELL ARMED, 8 CASINO DRIVE, 14 MY INDY
WIN: 10 Albertus Maximus
A: 4 and 10 boxed / reversed
B: 4 with 7, 8, 14
C: 10 with 7, 8, 14
10 with 4 with 7, 8, 14 (3 bets)
10 with 7, 8, 14 with 4 (3 bets)
10 with 7, 8, 14 with 7, 8, 14 (6)
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