2018 Dubai World Cup Expert Picks with Odds and Betting Predictions
One of the richest and most important horse races in the world comes around again on Saturday from the Meydan race track in Dubai. The Dubai World Cup has been won by so many legendary horses over the years. From Cigar in the debut event through greats like Silver Charm, Street Cry, Invasor, Curlin, Derby winner Animal Kingdom, to California Chrome, and last year's winner, the fast-burning Arrogate. This is a race where the best of American older horse racing heads across the ocean to test themselves, and they frequently come out on top.
And this year again we have a very American-heavy field, with five of the 10 entrants having made the trip. Bob Baffert is back with the favorite looking for his second straight win and fourth overall. Dubai's top trainer, Saeed bin Suroor has won the race an incredible seven times, and he has a live long shot. And there is no shortage of other storylines as well. It promises to be a great race - as always. Here's how it shapes up ( odds are from Bovada ):
West Coast (-110): The Bob Baffert trainee is presumed to be the class of the older horse field in North America right now after finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Classic last year and second in the Pegasus World Cup this winter. He was behind Gun Runner both times, and that horse is off to stud duty so the crown is West Coast's to claim. He won two Grade 1 races last year as a three-year-old, and he has never been off the board in 10 career starts, so it is easy to see why people believe in him. I sure do. But he hasn't done anything yet, so he needs to prove he is worthy of the hype. I view him as definitely the horse to beat here, though, and given the price I have no choice but to key him atop exotics. So, if he doesn't win then I'm not winning anything - and vice versa.
Talismanic (+700): There are a few horses here that are very tough to judge, and this is one of them. The horse won the Breeders' Cup Turf last year, so stamina, class and toughness aren't in question. But he has never run on dirt before. That is a big challenge for any horse, never mind an older one. If he takes to the surface and runs his race then he could be tough to beat. But that is a big if. My gut tells me it isn't going to happen for him - I just don't like the decision to put him in this spot. I will likely have a saver bet on him in the exotics somewhere, but he won't be a big factor for me.
Forever Unbridled (+800): This is another change of pace for a horse that is tough to judge. This mare is one of the best female horses of the last few years in North America - at a time when we have had a whole lot to choose from. But for the last race of her career she is facing boys for the first time and running this distance for the first time. She is, like Arrogate, sired by Unbridled's Song, though, so she should suit this challenge. And there is no disputing her talent. She also will have Mike Smith aboard for the first time. He rides fillies and mares beautifully and won the race last year, so she is in good hands. She's very intriguing and easy to root for.
North America (+800): This six-year-old Dubai-based runner is intriguing. He has had an ongoing duel with Thunder Snow in recent outings. Not only did this horse beat the younger colt last time out, but he set the track record at this distance at the same time. Faster than Arrogate and California Chrome. Impressive. But can he replicate it? And can he get the trip he needs? An exotics factor for sure.
Gunnevera (+800): This is another four-year-old American colt, and he hopes to pick up the pieces and claim the crown that West Coast has already been given by many. He was fifth in the Classic last year and a distant third in the Pegasus. There is clear talent here, but I think he is a big step behind the best, and he'll get no more than consideration in the bottom of my exotics.
Thunder Snow (+1200): You might remember this horse as the one who won the UAE Derby on the Dubai World Cup undercard last year to earn a Kentucky Derby berth, and then he refused to run at the start of that race. It was embarrassing for sure, but he has a Group 1 win in Europe to his credit to prove his talent, and he has won three of five on this track, so he is clearly comfortable in Dubai. And Saeed bin Suroor is his trainer, which never hurts here. He's a factor for sure.
Pavel (+1400): Doug O'Neill sends this colt over, and I don't give him much of a chance. He won the Smarty Jones Stakes last summer but has repeatedly come up short since. This is a long shot who will get no serious consideration from me - and not just because I think his trainer is the worst of characters in the sport. This price is terrible.
Mubtaahij (+1600): This is a bit of a homecoming for the formerly Dubai-based runner who now is trained by Bob Baffert. He won the UAE Derby in 2015, and this is his third time in this race. He was second behind California Chrome in 2016 and fourth last year in his last race before joining Baffert. He clearly likes the track, but he has yet to find his top game under his new trainer. The price is right to look at him, but not as a winner.
Awardee (+3300) and Furia Cruzada (+6600): These two get lumped together because they don't deserve attention on their own. Awardee, a half-brother to Lani, who we saw in the Triple Crown a few years back, is a Japanese entrant. He was fifth in this race last year but isn't likely to replicate that. And Furia Cruzada is a local entrant who hasn't proved to be up to the caliber of Thunder Snow and North America, never mind the rest of the field.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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