Picks and Plays for Dubai World Cup Night
By far the best race card in the world this Saturday will take place at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, where the eight Thoroughbred races on Dubai World Cup Night will pit high-class runners from around the world against each other in a series of rich stakes events.I’ve gone through the card and have put together a list of horses that interest me for the purpose of multi-race wagers like the double and Pick 3. I’ve also included a few longshots that could boost the payoffs in single-race wagers like the exacta or trifecta. Feel free to mix and match my plays with your own selections in search of a big score!
Godolphin Mile (UAE-II)#6 Muntazah, runner-up in this race last year, has gotten quite good as of late and enters off a pair of dominant Group 3 wins over this track and distance. His ten-length romp in the Burj Nahaar (UAE-III) three weeks ago earned him a 119 Racing Post Rating, not surprising given that he clocked the distance in 1:34.99 and broke the track record.
Muntazah will be a short price in the wagering, but it’s difficult to find someone to oppose him with. #12 Coal Front is a four-time graded stakes winner shipping in from the U.S., but he’s marooned in post twelve and could find it difficult to work out an ideal trip. If you want to go outside the box with a longshot, #4 Kimbear has kept good company throughout his career and has run some of his best races over this track and distance. Victory might be out of reach, but he could hit the board at a nice price.
For multi-race wagers, use #6 Muntazah.
Dubai Gold Cup (UAE-II)The Godolphin home team has four entrants here, led by the Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) winner #9 Cross Counter and the 10 ½-length Nad Al Sheba Trophy (UAE-III) victor #6 Ispolini. For the purpose of multi-race wagers, one might be tempted to use them both and call it a day, but I’m actually more intrigued by the French shipper #2 Call the Wind. This son of Frankel made steady progress last year to end the season with three straight victories, including the 2 ½-mile Prix de Cadran (Fr-I), so stamina isn’t a question mark and he’ll have no trouble negotiating the two-mile distance on Saturday.
Yes, Call the Wind was beaten in the Prix Darshaan earlier this month, but that was his seasonal debut and he was running just 1 3/16 miles over the all-weather track at Chantilly, an effort that screams “prep race!” loudly and clearly. Notably, Call the Wind’s trainer—Freddie Head—used a similar race over the all-weather track at Chantilly to prepare his previously unheralded Solow for the 2015 Dubai Turf. The result? Solow cruised to a 4 ¼-length victory. I’ll be counting on Call the Wind to win in similar fashion this Saturday.
For multi-race wagers, use #2 Call the Wind.
Al Quoz Sprint (UAE-I)#8 Blue Point is the overwhelming favorite here after winning two turf sprints at Meydan this winter by a combined eight lengths. Racing for Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby, Blue Point has prevailed at the Group 1 level in England, has fired off some big Racing Post Ratings, and really shouldn’t lose. If you do want to oppose him at a short price, the two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. I) winner #1 Stormy Liberal is a logical choice, considering that he placed second by a half-length in this race last year. And since American shippers have been outrunning their odds in recent editions of the Al Quoz Sprint, perhaps #7 Belvoir Bay and #9 Caribou Club—both accomplished sprinters with multiple graded stakes wins to their credit—could be worth including in the exotics at big prices.
For multi-race wagers, use #8 Blue Point and #1 Stormy Liberal.
UAE Derby (UAE-II)The filly #6 Divine Image should be tough and is a must-use in multi-race wagers, but #1 Walking Thunder had a troubled trip last time and could be dangerous if he gets to the lead, as I explained in my separate preview of the UAE Derby.
For multi-race wagers, use #1 Walking Thunder and #6 Divine Image.
Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I)The three American hopefuls #2 Imperial Hint, #3 X Y Jet, and #4 Promises Fulfilled are all very fast and they’ve drawn the three inside posts (#1 Roy H has withdrawn), so expect the pace to be fast and furious early on. Potentially, this could set the race up for #5 Drafted, a confirmed closer who looms as the best of the locals after winning three of his four starts at Meydan this winter. Trained by Doug Watson, this improving five-year-old produced a big finish (final quarter-mile in :24.38) to win the six-furlong Mahab Al Shimaal (UAE-III) three weeks ago and should be flying late if the early pace is destructive.
For multi-race wagers, use #2 Imperial Hint, #3 X Y Jet, #4 Promises Fulfilled, and #5 Drafted.
Dubai Turf (UAE-I)The Japan Filly Triple Crown winner #7 Almond Eye has won her last six starts with breathtaking acceleration and domination, and that includes a victory against older males in the Japan Cup (Jpn-I), where she ran 1 ½ miles in the world-record time of 2:20.60. She’s in a class of her own in Japan, and I’ve already explained why I felt she was the best horse to race anywhere in the world last year. In my opinion, Almond Eye is the most likely winner of the night and a horse to single in the Dubai Turf.
For multi-race wagers, use #7 Almond Eye.
Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I)The Japanese shipper #6 Rey de Oro could only finish fourth in this race last year, but the pace was very slow (fractions of :27.45, :53.74, and 1:19.05) and he was facing a field of excellent quality. The competition isn’t as tough this time around, and with anything resembling a fair pace, I expect Rey de Oro to prevail. After all, he's been a top-class horse in Japan—he won the 2017 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) and was in fine form at the end of 2018, winning the Tenno Sho Autumn (Jpn-I) before missing by a neck in the prestigious Arima Kinen (Jpn-I). Perhaps the favored Godolphin representative #2 Old Persian can give Rey de Oro a run for the money, but I’m confident enough in the latter to single him at a square price.
For multi-race wagers, use #6 Rey de Oro
Dubai World Cup (UAE-I)#2 Capezzano has turned into a different horse this winter and should have every opportunity to work out a ground-saving trip on the front end, as I explained in my separate preview of the Dubai World Cup. But #3 North America also has speed and #12 Thunder Snow is a flat-out classy runner who won this race last year, so I'd want to have those two on my tickets as well.
For multi-race wagers, use #2 Capezzano, #3 North America, and #12 Thunder Snow.