International Thoroughbred Racing Editor & Handicapper: Geir W. Stabell 1992 - 2021
Winners and losers at the draw
World Cup: Arrogate is ideally drawn in stall 9, between Furia Cruzada and Keen Ice (neither likely to bother him with early speed), and he should get a clean run from the gates. Hoppertunity drew 12, which is good, as he will be dropped in, while Mubtaahij was not so lucky with 14. Gun Runner looks well drawn in 5 but four no-hopers to his inside could spell trouble as the heat is on. He had better not tuck in behind them.
Sheema: Highland Reel is the winner of the draw here. Stall 3 is perfect for his front-running style, though with just 7 runners the draw does not matter much here.
Dubai Turf: Stall 1 could be a problem for Ribchester, who is a big colt with a long stride. Zarak (2) is more of a nimble sort and will be better off hugging the rail. Aiden O'Brien might be wondering how his trio ended up in the three widest stall. Not ideal.
Golden Shaheen: Wide stalls are just fine for the two US based favorites, Mind Your Biscuits (14) and St Joe Bay (11), while New Yorker Stallwalkin' Dude has tough spot in stall 1. He would not mind if it rains, by the way.
Al Quoz: Ertijaal, who has broken from stalls 6, 6 and 8 in his last three races, landed in 6 once more. Ideal. Limato will break from 11. Last year's winner Buffering came from 9 but a lower draw would have been better for the second favorite.
Jungle Cat (5) can keep Ertijaal in his sight and must be the each-way bet. GS
50-1 shot well
worth a flutter
VERY SPECIAL was disappointing when fifth of six behind Opal Tiara last month but she had made a satisfactory seasonal debut when beating the same rival to win the Cape Verdi back in January, and her best form in 2016 gives her a shot at finishing in the top three here. She beat eventual Dubai Turf runner-up Euro Charline by 2 ½ lengths to win the 2016 Balanchine, before running sixth in the Dubai Turf. Her second to Alice Springs in a G1 at Newmarket last July was also quite solid. It may be hard to imagine the Godolphin filly winning the Dubai Turf but it would not be an absolute shock if she did and 50-1 is way too big a price about Very Special (Victor Chandler). At that price, she's well worth a small each-way bet.
66-1 when first posted 5.30pm UK / Mar 20
50-1; Update 8.20am / Mar 24
Great early prices
Strong contenders at
10-1, 7-1 and 5-1
UAE DERBY: LANCASTER BOMBER 7-1
Nominated to the US Triple Crown Series by Aidan O'Brien, this is a highly interesting contender in this Derby. He surprised the racing world by chasing his stable companion (and odds-on favourite) Churchill home at 66-1 in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket last autumn. Lancaster Bomber, who was Churchill's pacemaker, rallied to take second, 1 ¼ lengths behind the winner and half a length in front of Blue Point. THUNDER SNOW was a neck further adrift in fourth. The form looked very smart when Rivet, who finished fifth, went on to win the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster two weeks later, and even better when Thunder Snow hacked up in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud on his next start. Lancaster Bomber did his bit too, going on to a game second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita.
He came up against Oscar Performance, an unusually smart US turf juvenile, who was favoured by the speedy conditions. Lancaster Bomber had anything but a clean trip and he stayed on gamely from midpack to pass the winning post 1 ¼ lengths behind the winner, with the impressive Summer Stakes winner Good Samaritan a neck away in third. It was a strong renewal of the BC Juvenile Turf and Lancaster Bomber proved that his Dewhurst run was no fluke, and that he is an adaptable horse. Running a mile on very firm ground around Santa Anita is quite different to tackling 7 furlongs on good ground over a straight course at Newmarket. Will he act on the dirt? Well, O'Brien has plenty of young horses to choose from (and made five TC-nominees). He selected two sons of War Front, Lancaster Bomber and Spirit of Valor, to travel to Dubai and we can assume these two colts have passed a 'dirt test' at Ballydoyle. The highly successful stallion War Front is also the sire of O'Brien's 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic third Declaration of War, while his dam, Sun Shower, is best known for having produced top class turf miler Excelebration.
UAE DERBY: MASTER PLAN 10-1
This son of Twirling Candy was visually impressive coming from what appeared an impossible position at the back of the field to beat Convict Pike by 2 ½ lengths in the OBS Championship Stakes over 8.5 furlongs in January, and he seems to be a performer on the upgrade. Master Plan had previously run second in the Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream Park, beaten a length by his stable companion Tapwrit – who went on to finish second behind current Kentucky Derby favourite McCraken on his next start and was an easy winner of the Tampa Bay Derby two weeks ago. These formlines augur well for Master Plan, an $850,000 breeze-up purchase who is a strong, attractive colt with scope
SHEEMA: HIGHLAND REEL 5-1
Completed a remarkable season last year and he must be one of the toughest turf runners around these days. He made all to win the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita in November, after having been very busy throughout the season in Europe. Dictating the pace, he had too much in reserve when Flintshire (who was given rather a lot to do) tried to challenge down the home stretch, and came home by 1 ¾ lengths. His stable companion Found, who had beaten him when they filled the first two places in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly, was back in third at Santa Anita. Highland Reel set his own pace also as he won the (admittedly sub-standard) King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and he an a good second to POSTPONED in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York. The Breeders' Cup Turf was his eighth run of the season, with the 'Sheema' being his first. Still, Highland Reel went for one more pot, in the Hong Kong Vase (which he won in 2015) but he was caught late by Satono Crown at Sha Tin. Postponed beat Highland Reel into fourth when they met here at Meydan twelve months ago but Highland Reel comes to Dubai a fresh horse this time and he has a good chance of revenge. Particularly since he may be the lone speed in this small field.
Posted 05.14.00 EST / 10.14.00 UK / Mar 18
EARLY VALUE BET
FANTASTIC 360-1 TREBLE
Three horses stand out as solid each-way bets in the early markets for Dubai World Cup day, and they offer us a great opportunity of a treble with a big upside against a low risk.
Key horse: Mind Your Biscuits (Benoit Photos)
GOLDEN SHAHEEN: MIND YOUR BISCUITS 4-1
Top class US sprinter who ran a solid prep at Gulfstream Park. Clear top-rated going into this race, who won the Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita after a fast finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (later promoted to second). Will love the long straight at Meydan and is clearly the one to beat in the Golden Shaheen. 4-1 is a bit over the odds. Locals are not much good and St. Joe Bay is his only danger. 2-1 would make more sense about Mind Your Biscuits.
UAE DERBY: MASTER PLAN 7-1
Todd Pletcher trained, $850,000 colt going for the valuable classic. Ran really well against last weekend's easy Tampa Bay Derby winner Tapwrit in the Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream Park, then outclassed a big field in the OBS Championship, where he made up a tremendous amount of ground in the home straight to win quite comfortably. Returned GF 106p that day, leaving him with a bit to find on Derby favourite Thunder Snow, but Master Plan is on the upgrade and he looks a threat to Godolphin's colt.
GODOLPHIN MILE: HEAVY METAL 8-1
Visually most impressive when bossing a decent field over this course and distance in the traditional prep on Super Saturday, and is a strong contender to follow up. He ran to GF 118, four pounds below the likely favourite, US contender Sharp Azteca - but Heavy Metal holds home court advantage and he may improve again. A fast starter, he would ideally prefer to be drawn low again.
MASTER PLAN 7-1
HEAVY METAL 11-2
MIND YOUR BISCUITS 3-1
3 EW doubles + 1 EW treble
Best treble odds: 360-1
First posted 09.38.00 EST 14.38.00 UK / March 14 / Updated 04.22.00 EST / 08.42.00 UK March 24
DUBAI WORLD CUP (G1)
Meydan 25 Mar 2017 – 2000 m / 10 fur dirt
Projected runners presented with best Globeform past 24 months, sire, trainer, rider, draw.
Globeform ratings are expressed in pounds. 1 length = 2lbs over this distance
139p - ARROGATE (Unbridled's Song) Bob Baffert / Mike Smith 9
122 - GUN RUNNER (Candy Ride) Steve Asmussen / Florent Geroux 5
121* - KEEN ICE (Curlin) Todd Pletcher / Javier Castellano 10
120 - HOPPERTUNITY (Any Given Saturday) Bob Baffert / Flavien Prat 12
117 - MUBTAAHIJ (Dubawi) Mike de Kock / Christophe Soumillon 14
115 - APOLLO KENTUCKY (Langfuhr) Kenji Yamauchi / Christophe Lemaire 1
115 - MOVE UP (Dubawi) Saeed bin Suroor / Adrie De Vries 6
114p - NEOLITHIC (Harlan's Holiday) Todd Pletcher / John Velazquez 11
114 - AWARDEE (Jungle Pocket) Mikio Matsunaga / Yutake Take 7
114? - SPECIAL FIGHTER (Teofilo) Maria Ritchie / Fernando Jara 13
112 - GOLD DREAM (Gold Allure) Osamo Hirata / Joao Moreira 3
112 - LONG RIVER (A. P. Indy) Salem bin Ghadayer Mickael Barzalona 2
110 - FURIA CRUZADA m * (Newfoundland) Erwan Charpy Antonio Fresu 8
110 - LANI (Tapit) Mikio Matsunaga / Ryan Moore 4
* Sex weight allowance: Furia Cruzada 2kg (4.4lb)
** Keen Ice: GF 121 in Aug 2015 / GF 116 at his best since
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