One of the richest racing days of the year is this Saturday at Meydan, the Dubai World Cup Carnival Finale. 9 races totaling 30 million dollars in purses give a grand finale to the racing season at Meydan. Some of the best horses in the world have arrived in Dubai to take on these races, especially the ten million dollar Dubai World Cup. To prepare everyone for this big day of racing, I have full card analysis of all the thoroughbred races on the day.
The first of the thoroughbred races is a good one, the Godolphin Mile. Going 8 furlongs on the dirt, this field of ten features some familiar names, like Marking and Prayer for Relief. Last year’s runner up behind Tamarkuz, Sloane Avenue returns, and gets Frankie Dettori aboard, winner of a record 7 Godolphin Miles. Maftool comes out of a good handicap win at Meydan, a half a length in front of Cool Cowboy. McLaughlin brought Marking to Dubai after a second place finish to Runhappy in the Malibu, running twice, unseating rider James Doyle (who has the mount here) and then winning a handicap race last time out. However, both those runs were at 6f; stepping up to a mile may be tough. But don’t forget about One Man Band, who has been a force in the mile division in Dubai, with 7 wins out of 12 runs in the UAE.
My Top Selection: Maftool
Dubai Gold Cup
The lights shine bright on the turf at Meydan in the 16 furlong Dubai Gold Cup. Another second place finisher from last year comes back in this one as well, as Star Empire gives this long race another try. Andre Fabre ships in Godolphin runner Manatee, who was well beaten behind Golden Horn in the Arc. Certerach comes out of the local prep, finishing second by 3 3/4 lengths to Sheikhzayedroad; however, hasn’t run in a long time and a 4 for 31 record isn’t something I’d like to see in a World Cup Night runner. Big Orange comes out of the Melbourne Cup, losing by only 2 lengths to long shot winner Prince of Penzance. He also has a Group Two win at Goodwood in July at this distance. And don’t forget about the German horse, who has two straight victories. Albeit slow wins, this horse gets a weight break that could prove pivotal in deciding the race.
My Top Selection: Big Orange
Kentucky Derby points are on the line in the UAE Derby as 3yos go 9.5 furlongs on the dirt. Doug O’Neill ships in Frank Conversation, winner of the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate last month. This son of Quality Road has a lot of favoritism towards the All Weather surface, and although Meydan changed to dirt last year, horses that take to the AW usually perform well on this surface. The filly wonder, Polar River, runs against the boys in here, after easily winning race after race against the fillies. Winner of the UAE Oaks, Patrick Dobbs hopes to guide her to a victory here, and if she stays as collected as she did for the first three runs, she should easily run off with a victory; however, if she gets stressed like in the UAE Oaks, it may be the first loss on her record. Polar River isn’t the only filly in this race, as Oaks runner up Vale Dori makes the jump as well. She almost beat Polar River in that three horse field, and with a little more pace, may end up winning it here. Should be able to get this horse at a good price. Lazzam comes out of two straigh well beaten seconds to Market Rally, who ends up missing this race due to injury. Might still be looking for his first win in the UAE, but a very live horse to win.
My Top Selection: Frank Conversation
Al Quoz Sprint
Last year’s winner Sole Power comes to defend his title in the 5 furlong Al Quoz Sprint down the straightaway. Sole Power is desperately trying to return to form, and had a very good 3rd in his Meydan prep, losing to Fityaan by only a head. However, two bad efforts at Longchamp and Sha Tin make it very difficult to trust Sole Power here. The best female turf sprinter in the US, Lady Shipman, makes the trek with Irad Ortiz, Jr. for this race, and has been as sharp as they get. She has yet to finish out of the money in 13 career races. She will get a 2 pound weight break on the field. As mentioned previously, Fityaan beat Sole Power in the local prep last time out, but class may stop this horse from winning again. Don’t doubt Goldream, one of the world’s top sprinters. May not be the most consistent of runners, but a lot of class gives this horse an edge.
My Top Selection: Lady Shipman
Dubai Golden Shaheen
Two million dollars are on the line for the dirt sprinters in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. 6 furlongs on the dirt, this race has seen a lot of success by US runners, most recently with Secret Circle last year. This race draws two US runners in X Y Jet and Confrontation. Confrontation won easily at Meydan last time out, but going a mile. Has the speed to contend, but the distance may be too short for his best running. X Y Jet, however, doesn’t have the class to match up with this field, but has been shooting off win after win and has the speed to wire this field if he can get the lead early. Big chance here. Muarrab easily won the local prep here at the beginning of the month with Paul Hanagan aboard, but gets to contend with Rich Tapestry again, two horses that have been trading blows back and forth. Rich Tapestry has been racing in the major races in the Global Sprint Challenge and finally got a break from the G1 races with the return to Meydan. Although he may not have the speed to contend in the major international Grade 1 Sprints, this race seems like a perfect spot.
My Top Selection: Muaarab
With the loss of Solow to this field, this race is wide open. However, there are three horses in particular with a big chance to win, Euro Charline, The Corsican, and Real Steel. Frankie Dettori pilots Euro Charline for Marco Botti, who finished forth behind Solow in this race last year, and second in the local prep to Very Special, who is also in this race. While not always coming up with a win, she constantly finishes very will in the top races and will be live in this one. The Corsican faced a tough Fascinating Rock in the British Champions Stakes in his last start, but put in good efforts at Newbury, Goodwood, and Ascot leading into it. Still searching for a Group One win, this son of Galileo will shorten up in distance and could be a surprise winner here. However, Ryan Moore may have the best horse in this field, taking the mount on this Japanese bred, Real Steel. Deep Impact may very well be the 2nd best sire in the world behind only Galileo, and Real Steel carries on that bloodline. Although usually falling to world champion Duramente, Real Steel runs a class race every time he races. Cutting down in distance, this now 4-year old looks to improve with Ryan Moore aboard.
My Top Selection: Real Steel
Dubai Sheema Classic
The penultimate race of the day is the 12 furlong Dubai Sheema Classic featuring a match-up between the two of the best turf horses in the world, Duramente and Highland Reel. Mirco Demuro has done wonders on Duramente, capturing three straight Grade races, including the Nakayama Kinen off of a 9 month layoff. He captured the Grade One Satsuki Sho and the Grade One Tokyo Yushun with Demuro as well. Fresh once again, this son of King Kamehameha is on the testing the waters outside of Japan, and looks ready to take this one. The other big runner is Highland Reel for Aiden O’Brien and Ryan Moore. Winner of the Secretariat at Arlington Park this past August, and then the Hong Kong Vase over Flintshire in December, this globe trotting horse has raced in five different countries in his last five starts, winning 3 of those races (including 2 G1 wins). He easily put down Flintshire in the Hong Kong Vase and has been aching to get back to 12 furlongs. Looks to be ready for a win here.
My Top Selection: Highland Reel
Dubai World Cup
The big one is finally here, with the 10 million dollar Dubai World Cup capping off the night. Last year’s runner up California Chrome returns to try to win the race he so narrowly let go, this time getting a local prep, an impressive victory in a 10 furlong handicap last month. Victor Espinoza and Art Sherman are much more familiar with Meydan now, and hope to have Chrome ready for the race of his life. The formerly US trained Candy Boy returns to the races off of a year layoff, after finishing fourth in this very race. Now locally trained, Watson hopes to get this late closer going earlier to rally for a win. Frosted faced American Pharoah for much of 2015, but found success when he could evade the Triple Crown winner. Now coming off of a record setting performance at Meydan, the son of Tapit looks to Godolphin Racing their 7th victory in the World Cup. Gun Pit seems like the wise guy horse, finishing second behind Special Fighter in the 3rd Al Maktoum Challenge race. Hokko Tarumae returns after a dismal performance last year. Doesn’t look any better than he did last year. The up and coming Flavien Prat ships ride for Dubai hero Bob Baffert on Hoppertunity. Having had tough runs before, Prat was able to get this horse to finally win in the San Antonio Handicap. Has a good chance here, now extending to 10 furlongs. Bob Baffert last won this race in 2001 with Captain Steve for Mike Pegram, owner of Hoppertunity. Dale Romans brings in Keen Ice, the only horse to beat American Pharoah in 2015. Gets Ryan Moore and puts on the blinkers, he should show more speed than he did in his last race at Meydan. Mshawish has really taken well to the dirt and gets Dettori aboard. Very live and very dangerous in this spot. Mubtaahij has been subpar since winning the UAE Derby last year. Would need to turn back to clock to try and get a win here. Special Fighter was a surprise winner for Fernando Jara in the 3rd Al Maktoum Challenge. If he gets the lead early, could run away with this race. Teletext has been running in much lesser races than this and would need to massively improve to run a winning race here. Vadamos for Andre Fabre just doesn’t seem up to snuff here, and no telling how he will do on the dirt.
My Top Pick: Mshawish
-Dubai World Cup is historically a stalkers race, as is Meydan, a stalkers track. Mshawish is a tough to beat stalker and is coming off two very good wins, especially the Donn Handicap, which is looking to become a major Dubai World Cup prep once again. Easily putting away one of the stronger Donn Handicap fields in recent memory, Mshawish is very dangerous in this spot.
Don’t miss out on one of the more exciting days in racing, the Dubai World Cup from Meydan. You can watch all of the action on TVG this Saturday!