2018 Dubai World Cup Power Rankings

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D.S. Williamson

January 31st, 2018

The dust hasn't settled on Gulfstream Park's dirt racetrack from the 2018 Pegasus World Cup, and already horseplayers have turned their attention to Dubai. Why not? Gun Runner won't run in the Dubai World Cup. That means the chances of a 4/5 shot winning the race are much lower now than it was if Gun Runner's connections had decided to not retire the brilliant equine.

Last year, Bob Baffert won the Dubai World Cup because his star horse, Arrogate, provided one of the absolute best performances in the history of horse racing. Arrogate beat Gun Runner for the Dubai World Cup trophy. This year, neither one of last year's top 2 finishers will be in the race.

Bob will have the favorite, though. West Coast finished closest to Gun Runner in the Pegasus World Cup. That's who leads my Top 5 2018 Dubai World Cup Power Rankings.

1. West Coast

Hopefully for Bob Baffert, West Coast won't have to pull off an Arrogate-like performance to win the 2018 Dubai World Cup win. Because of his electrifying cruising speed, the top three-year-old from 2017 should be in a great position before they turn for home. He might be on the lead if Sharp Azteca doesn't decide to take it.  Also, West Coast won't have to face Collected, his brilliant front-running stablemate, in Dubai. Collected will receive a much needed vacation after battling Gun Runner in both the Breeders' Cup Classic and the Pegasus World Cup.

2. Gunnevera

He made up a ton of ground in the 1 1/8 miles Pegasus. Gunnevera not only chased one of the best horses to ever step foot onto a racetrack, Gun Runner, but he also chased that horse after that horse secured an easy lead. That means, Gunnevera is likely to fire his best shot in Dubai. I expect the newly turned 4-year-old to improve off the Pegasus run. Who knows? By March 31, Gunnevera might be ready to take on West Coast and beat that rival.

3. Neolithic

Todd Pletcher is fantastic at getting horses ready to show their best off a layoff. Always Dreaming won the Kentucky Derby after winning the Florida Derby. Neolithic used an allowance win to finish third to Gun Runner in the Grade 1 Woodward over the summer. Last year, he finished third to Arrogate and Gun Runner in the Dubai World Cup. If Pletcher works his magic again, Neolithic might improve enough by March 31 to beat both Gunnevera and West Coast.

4. Sharp Azteca

I get it. When asked the question in the Pegasus World Cup, Sharp Azteca didn't respond. He also looked tired. But, I feel there are a couple of reasons why he failed to menace. The best tactics to utilize with Sharp Azteca might be to keep him closer to the pace than he was in the Pegasus. It's tough for some horses to go from a 2 to a 5 on the speed scale. Sharp Azteca might be one of those equines who can go from a 4 to a 5, but not a 2 to a 5.

Also, he might have bounced after the brilliant beat down he put onto his competition in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile. American front runner can carry their speed a long way at Meydan. Sharp Azteca might be one of those horses that carries his speed a long way.

5.  Mubtaahij

He won the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes over Midnight Storm and Cupid. He finished fourth in the Dubai World Cup in 2017. In 2016, he finished second in the Dubai World Cup to California Chrome. Without a verifiable star in this year's Dubai World Cup, who knows? Maybe, Mubtaahij finally grabs the trophy.