The Group I Dubai World Cup returns... Check out our preview of the big race and who has the best opportunity to take home the top prize!
1 ¼ (Dirt), Dubai World Cup, Purse $12 Million, 4+
The Dubai World Cup (DWC), which is the feature of its “Racing Carnival,” returns after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was really the first of several major international Thoroughbred events to be rescheduled in 2020. The draw for this race has a full field, and the undercard for that matter, also follows suit. On the wagering front, this will be the first time that North American punters will have the opportunity to join international pools. Unlike in previous years, where Americans formed their own, this year the Hong Kong Jockey Club will host the consolidated “world pools.”
For the DWC, an event conceived and hosted by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai who also owns Darley Stud & Godolphin Racing, who has won this contest many times. It was the richest horse race until the inaugural Saudi Cup in 2019. Still, the race holds a special significance to North American racing since some of our greatest runners have shipped to Meydan Racecourse to seek the top prize.
Names like Cigar (who won the first DWC), Silver Charm, Roses in May, Invasor, Curlin, Animal Kingdom, California Chrome, and Arrogate, are some of the names you might remember from the not too distant past. Well-known jockeys (Jerry Bailey, Frankie Dettori, John Velazquez, and Mike Smith) and trainers (Bob Baffert, Steve Asmussen, Graham Motion, and Dale Romans) come to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in hopes of World Cup glory, as they ship into a truly international exhibition in the name of the Thoroughbred.
Now, let’s find out about this field…
#1 Great Scot (Jky: F. Dettori/Trn: A. Mishriff):
Not long before the Saudi Cup, this 5-yr-old gelding was sold to Prince Faisal of the same country, with the objective of running in the big race. Few outside of the homeland thought this runner had any chance, but there he was right before the wire, finishing 3rd at 66/1. He beat Knicks Go… hmm… He is back for another go in a titanically impressive race with a great pedigree. Trainer Mishriff, not to be confused with the horse that won the Saudi Cup, must have high hopes that this son of Requinto (IRE) can pull off another long-odds minor award. He doesn’t think he can actually win… does he?
#2 Hypothetical (Jky: M. Barzalona/Trn: S. Bin Ghadayer):
Nothing like a horse named after something that has not happened as of yet. This runner for the DWC used to be a member of John Gosden lot. Once he came to the Middle East under the baton of Salem Bin Ghadayer, he started at the 13k level, then graduated steadily. Last out, he finished 2nd to Salute The Soldier in early March. That effort was game considering the class hike. Jockey Barzalona will retain the mount, and this will be his 3rd try aboard. Not sure if he can win the DWC, but you never know with a runner like this one.
#3 Chuwa Wizard (Jky: K. Tosaki/Trn: R. Okubo):
If there is one aspect I know about the Dubai Racing Carnival, it is that Japanese runners deserve more respect. Each year, slowly but surely, entries have risen, and success has trickled in. Wouldn’t it be something if this entrant scored the 1st win for Japan in the DWC? Trained by Ryuji Okubo, he has all the tools… stamina, strength, focus, and form. In his last race, before he headed to the Saudi Cup in Riyadh, he won a Group 1 at Chukyo. That was an impressive win. In the aforementioned Saudi Cup, I am not sure he ever got comfortable, as Charlatan and Knicks Go went at it up front. No one was going to best Misriff’s late turn-of-foot, but here is Keita Tosaki, “Chuwa’s” regular jockey, with a chance to make a statement on the world stage of international horse racing. The time has arrived…
#4 Title Ready (Jky: R. Moore/Trn: D. Stewart):
Here is a 6-yr-old from the barn of Dallas Stewart who has extensive race experience. It wasn’t all that long ago that he was trying the Derby pipeline, running 4th in the Rebel S. that year. Though this son of More Than Ready has had few wins, he does head to Dubai with a score last time in the Louisiana Stakes (G3) at the Fair Grounds. I am not sure that qualifies him to jump into this kind of company, but Mystic Guide was in a G3 @OP, so I stand corrected. Still, I am not sure if this veteran has enough “get up and go” to match wits with Stidham’s ace. Stewart knows how to ship though, but he might be in over his head in the DWC.
#5 Military Law (Jky: A. Fresu/Trn: M. Mheiri):
Trainer Mheiri sent his son of Dubawi (IRE) into the Saudi Cup with high hopes. Those were dashed when he finished off the board in 6th Place. He will be shipping into Meydan, a track where he has had some success over the past few years. A former member of John Gosden’s barn, he should be a fairly square price, but that is not a reason to bet this one. He is going to have to raise his game to compete with the favorites in here.
#6 Mystic Guide (Jky: L. Saez/Trn: M. Stidham):
The frontrunner and presumed favorite for this DWC is Mike Stidham’s son of Ghostzapper, who is owned by none other than Godolphin. Last year, this colt missed the Derby Trail, and took another route to stardom. Ensconced up at Belmont Park, then at Saratoga, he challenged some powerful adversaries in the Peter Pan (G3) – 3rd, Jim Dandy (G2) – 1st, and Jockey Club Gold Cup – 2nd. Off the bench, he started his 4-yr-old campaign with a bang by shipping into Oaklawn for the Razorback (G3). In the slop, he handled the field with ease, enroute to a hefty speed fig. Now, Stidham heads into uncharted territory… luckily, he spoke with Steve Asmussen for advice. If this “Boy in Blue” is as sharp as everyone thinks he will be, with the accomplished Luis Saez over to ride, then he should win this race hands down.
#7 Capezzano (Jky: R. Ffrench/Trn: S. Bin Ghadayer):
Trainer Salem Bin Ghadayer is readying this former rival of the great Thunder Snow, who won the last 2 editions of the DWC. I am not sure how in form this 7-yr-old truly is, but my sense is that he is a bit long in the tooth. All his preps for this moment look highly circumspect, and for that reason, I might look elsewhere. This one will be value, but it is hard to justify an investment.
#8 Thegreatcollection (Jky: P. Cosgrove/Trn: D. Watson):
Since November, trainer Doug Watson has methodically brought this seasoned 7-yr-old gelding along with intent to try to make it to the starting gate in the DWC. He succeeded. Now, the trick will be trying to keep up with this bunch. I am sure he is up to it, but his march through the Meydan ranks have not been without some missteps. Last out, when he had the chance to best his rival, Salute The Soldier, it was a miss—4th. Coming into the DWC, he must raise his game, not only because “Salute” has drawn in, but the quality of this field increases.
#9 Jesus’ Team (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: F. D’Angelo):
Ever since a 4th Place finish in last summer’s Haskell Invitational, this talented son of Tapiture has taken on all comers. The results speak for themselves, as the Jose D’Angelo-trained colt has faced some of the best competition in North America. That includes Authentic, Swiss Skydiver, Knicks Go, and even Mystic Guide (Jim Dandy S.). He is as ready as he can be to fly to Dubai, which will not be a piece of cake. Still, his class is mighty impressive, and with so much of the wager in the “Win” pool directed to Mystic Guide, his former foe, he might be an overlay come post time. With the new wagering options restructured, it will be interesting to see where his price lands. Big chance to make an impact, and with Joel Rosario in the saddle, he could be guiding this team home in the DWC.
#10 Sleepy Eyes Todd (Jky: A. Moreno/Trn: M. Silva):
Trainer Miguel Silva has become a road warrior, as he already oversaw the entry and running of his son of Paddy O’Prado in the 2nd Annual Saudi Cup (G1). That was a 5th Place for his runner when it was all said and done, which considering the field, was not too shabby. Silva did not hop on a plane and come back to the States. Instead, he packed his kit and his Thoroughbred, and he headed to Dubai. Workouts there have progressed well, and after a whirlwind 2020, which included a signature win in the Charles Town Classic (G2), he looks fit and ready to take on this field. Do not be surprised if Jockey Moreno and Silva are thinking upset. Lesson… don’t sleep on this one!
#11 Salute The Soldier (Jky: A. de Vries/Trn: B.F. Nass):
Nothing like a German-bred, British-trained early on, Middle Eastern currently-raced, and now ridden by a Dutchman. That is international racing for you… B.F. Nass has this 6-yr-old out of the great Sepoy (AUS) primed for a start in the DWC. If he is sharp, he can win, but it will not be easy. What he has going for him is the horse-for-the-course angle. With 2-straight wins over the Meydan dirt, that is an accomplishment. Besting Thegreatcollection and Hypothetical in each of those contests proves he is pick of the litter from the locals. His time for measuring up to greatness is upon him and his international connections.
#12 Magny Cours (Jky: W. Buick/Trn: A. Fabre):
Andre Fabre is an accomplished French-based trainer, whose charge has done some traveling just to get to Duabi. He went through 3 countries for Godolphin just to get to compete in the DWC. Lightly-raced since 2020, he scored in 3-straight races in France. Those were fairly low-level races, but wins are wins. If there is a sneaky class riser, then this is it. Fabre has infinite capability when it comes to his own conditioning ability, that is why in this spot, he will need every trick in the book.
#13 Ajuste Fiscal (Jky: V. Leal/Trn: A. Cintra):
In the Al Maktoum Challenge R2 (G2) @MEY in early February, this 4-yr-old colt out of Ioya Bigtime (USA) was 3rd behind Salute The Soldier and Thegreatcollection. The thing is, he improved for trainer Cintra, and that is saying something, I suppose. It is unclear just how well he will handle this rise in company, but don’t forget he was Uruguay’s 2019 Horse of the Year. This is Cintra’s first DWC entry although the Brazilian-based conditioner entered the UAE Derby, and actually won the 2006 Al Shindagha Sprint with Heart Alone. Perhaps that might be persuasive to you?
#14 Gifts of Gold (Jky: C. Soumillon/Trn: S. Bin Suroor):
Thinking about jockey Christophe Soumillon’s past 6 months, they were a rollercoaster. Just before the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland, he had to give up his mounts due to a positive COVID test. Now healthy, he is ready for another DWC. He draws an interesting mount in this Saeed bin Suroor runner, who was awfully good in Riyadh during the Saudi Cup. He scored against Spanish Mission in the Red Sea Turf Handicap. That was a game effort, especially right before the wire. Switching to dirt might not be a poor play since his trainer knows the Meydan Racecourse like the back of his hand. Godolphin leaves nothing to chance, and this entry is just another reason to think that they have a stacked deck against the rest of this field.
Join us Saturday for all of our DWC selections! Should be a great set of races from the Meydan Racecourse in the UAE!