Dubai World Cup Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 03/26/2009
The Dubai World Cup, horse racing's richest day with three races with a purse of $5 million or more each, takes place in the Middle East cradle of incredible wealth on Saturday. North American horses don't dominate the events in numbers, but some of our greatest champions have taken home glory in the main event. Curlin was a thoroughly dominating winner last year, and other greats like Invasor, Roses in May, Pleasantly Perfect, Captain Steve, Silver Charm and Cigar have taken home the hardware. This year's World Cup doesn't have nearly that kind of star appeal, but that certainly doesn't mean that it isn't a compelling, world-class race. Here's a look at the field for the $6 million Dubai World Cup, with odds from Bodog:
Albertus Maximus (2/1) - He's the biggest North American hope, and quite possibly the post time favorite. I'm not sure that I'm a believer, though. He has won three of his last four races, including the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and the Donn Handicap. The latter was the same launch pad used by Invasor, Captain Steve, and Cigar en route to World Cup success. My biggest concern about this horse, though, is the distance. The World Cup is run at 1 1/4 miles, or 10 furlongs. Albertus Maximus has only run that distance once, and his previous ownership (he was sold after the Breeders' Cup) seemed determined to keep him away from the classic distance. He may be fine, but I don't see any value in him at all at this price.
Asiatic Boy (11/4) - He's the second choice now, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him favored by post time. I also find it hard to pick against him. He's based in Dubai, and he has had some big success on this course. He won the UAE Derby, Dubai's biggest race for three year olds, and he was clearly the second best horse in the World Cup last year behind Curlin. Without a runner like Curlin this year I'm not sure he can be contained. He'll be my choice, especially at a price like this.
Casino Drive (7/1) - The mystery horse strikes again. You may remember that this horse came from Japan to challenge Big Brown in the Belmont last year, only to be injured before the race. He returned to North America again for the Breeders' Cup Classic. He set the pace early there, but faded to dead last. He was similarly uninspiring in the Japan Cup Dirt in his next start. He's an incredibly impressive looking animal, and he clearly has potential, but even at this price I think he's a sucker bet.
Well Armed (15/2) - I was at the Breeders' Cup last year, and this horse cost me some money there. He was heavily favored to win the Breeders' Cup Dirt, but he finished ninth about six miles behind Albertus Maximus. The biggest thing the horse has going for him here is experience - he finished third in the World Cup last year. I'm not sold on this Aaron Gryder-ridden horse, but he'll be useful in exotics.
Anak Nakal (50/1) - You might recognize this horse from the Kentucky Derby last year, where he finished a well-beaten seventh. As the odds indicate, I have absolutely no idea why this horse is here. If he wants to win he has to show that he is an entirely different animal than I think he is. Don't get sucked in by name recognition.
Happy Boy (25/1) - If you're looking for a long shot, this may be where to look. This horse was a success in Brazil before moving to Dubai. He has taken well to the track in Dubai, winning key prep races for the World Cup. He'll have to be at his best to come through, but this price certainly isn't indicative of his chances.
A quick look at some of the other races on the card:
$5 million Sheema Classic - The field contains two world-class runners that may be past their prime - Red Rocks and Youmzain. South African trainer Mike De Kock, one of the best in the sport, incredibly has four runners in this 15-horse field. I think he will also have the winner - either Front House or King of Rome.
$2 million Golden Shaheen - This sprint race features North American racing royalty. Bob Baffert's Indian Blessing was named the champion two-year-old filly in 2007 after winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, and followed that up by being named champion female sprinter last year. She is in good position to add to her hardware here. Her biggest competition will come from the aging Diabolical, and Hammadi. Indian Blessing didn't get a good break in the post position draw when she drew the outside post.
$2 million UAE Derby - All eyes will be on one three-year-old here - Desert Party. The key horse owners in Dubai are starved for a Kentucky Derby win, and this may be their best shot yet. If he wins here then his ticket is punched for Louisville in a month. Regal Ranson and Redding Colliery are among the horses that could give him a test in the 13-horse field.
$1 million Godolphin Mile - This one is interesting for North American racing fans because of Gayego. After winning the Arkansas Derby last year he was one of the favorites in the Kentucky Derby, but a troubled trip left him in 17th. He bounced back to set a track record at Hollywood Park in November, and then was sold and moved to Dubai. He's done well there, winning a big race last time out. He's a very classy horse, and this race could be the launching pad for a very good four year old year. Informed comes from California to challenge him, and Two Step Salsa and Art of War also should be factors.