Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and Pegasus World Cup (G1) champion Arrogate tops a projected cast of 14 for the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) on March 25, according to the list of probables announced by the Dubai Racing Club Wednesday.
Fellow American shippers for the about 1 1/4-mile prize are Hoppertunity, Arrogate’s stablemate from the Bob Baffert barn; the peaking Gun Runner for Steve Asmussen; and Todd Pletcher’s pair of Keen Ice and Neolithic.
Japan has no fewer than four engaged – recent February (G1) winner Gold Dream; Apollo Kentucky and Awardee, the top two from the Tokyo Daishoten (G1) in their latest; and the mercurial Lani, Awardee’s half-brother, who’ll need to step up dramatically after his no-show in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (G1).
The balance of the field has been based in Dubai. Mubtaahij prepped with a second in the Curlin H., while longshot Long River wired Round 3 over Special Fighter, Furia Cruzada (previously the winner of the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 [G2]) and Godolphin’s Move Up.
Just eight are penciled in for the $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) at about 1 1/2 miles on turf. Aidan O’Brien dispatches Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) star Highland Reel, last seen being mugged in the Hong Kong Vase (G1), and Irish and Yorkshire Oaks (G1) heroine Seventh Heaven, fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). Defending champion Postponed was just upset by Godolphin’s Prize Money in the Dubai City of Gold (G2). John Gosden sends out Godolphin’s premier hope, 2015 Irish Derby (G1) victor Jack Hobbs, who was third in last October’s Champion S. (G1) at Ascot. Representing Japan is perennial bridesmaid Sounds of Earth. Locally based Earnshaw gets his call-up after a string of useful placings during the Carnival, and German-bred Chopin, now in Bahrain, earned his way in with a daylight victory in Qatar.
The about 1 1/8-mile Dubai Turf (G1), also worth $6 million, shapes up as a contentious affair with Arlington Million (G1) hero Mondialiste, who shortens up after flopping in the Breeders’ Cup Turf; O’Brien’s Belmont Derby (G1) winner Deauville, on vacation since his third to Mondialiste in Chicago, and stablemate Cougar Mountain; Arlington Million scratch Decorated Knight, who captured the course-and-distance Jebel Hatta (G1); Mutakayyef, unraced since finishing third to Tepin in the Woodbine Mile (G1); defending champion Real Steel and his Japanese compatriot, classic-winning filly Vivlos; Godolphin’s Prix Jacques le Marois (G1) winner Ribchester and multiple Group 2-scoring distaffer Very Special; Opal Tiara, who dethroned Very Special in the Balanchine (G2) last out; the Aga Khan’s Zarak, Zarkava’s son who aired in the Dubai Millennium (G3) here, and fellow French shipper Heshem; and Singapore’s Horse of the Year Debt Collector.
Four Americans loom large in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1), an about six-furlong sprint on dirt. St Joe Bay, Mind Your Biscuits, Imperial Hint, and Stallwalkin’ Dude will face Reynaldothewizard, the 11-year-old magician who won this in 2013; the top seven from the last local prep, the Mahab al Shimaal (G3), in Morawij, Cool Cowboy, Hong Kong’s Dundonnell, Godolphin’s Comicas, Wild Dude (yet to find his form for Michael Halford), Muarrab (the defending Shaheen champion) and Japan’s Dios Corrida; local speedster My Catch, off since December; and smart Hong Kong turf sprinter Not Listenin’tome, who tries dirt for John Moore.
The $1 million Al Quoz Sprint (G1), an about six-furlong dash down the turf straightaway, serves up a fascinating clash between local supremo Ertijaal (Ire) (runner-up in last year’s running over five) and multiple Group 1 sprint star Limato, most recently sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). Hong Kong’s Amazing Kids brings a rich vein of form, while O’Brien’s Washington DC, Americans Long on Value and Richard’s Boy, and France’s Finsbury Square are also set for a Meydan debut. Godolphin duo Jungle Cat and Baccarat furnished the exacta in the local prep, the Nad al Sheba Turf Sprint, in which France’s The Right Man was a useful third and Britain’s Final Venture was fifth. Fellow Brit Medicean Man, now 11 years old, takes his third crack at the Al Quoz.
A capacity field of 16 is in line for the $2 million UAE Derby (G2), which offers 100 points (to the winner) toward the Kentucky Derby (G1). Godolphin’s UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) romper Thunder Snow and Japan’s unbeaten Epicharis, who already booked his Kentucky Derby ticket in the Hyacinth at Tokyo, will attract the most support. Adirato, runner-up to Epicharis last out, tries him again in hopes of earning sufficient Derby points. O’Brien runs a dirt experiment with two War Front colts – Lancaster Bomber, second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), and Spirit of Valor, runner-up in a boggy Killavullan (G3) in October. The Pletcher-trained Master Plan ships in from Florida, as does Kenny McPeek’s Vettori Kin, a Brazilian Group 1 winner who’s a four-year-old by Northern Hemisphere reckoning (and thus ineligible for Derby points). So is Argentinean He Runs Away, a dual Group 1 winner in his homeland. The rest have all been seen during the Carnival – the Al Bastakiya exacta of Cosmo Charlie and Qatar Man; Mike de Kock’s talented but quirky Fawree, who unseated his rider at the start of the Al Bastakiya; Bee Jersey, second to Fawree and Thunder Snow of late; Godolphin’s Top Score and Fly at Dawn, going turf-to-dirt after running one-two in the Meydan Classic; and the top two from the UAE Oaks (G3), Nomorerichblondes and Midnight Chica.
The $1 million Dubai Gold Cup (G2) over two metric miles features defending champion Vazirabad and last year’s near-misser Big Orange. Godolphin mare Beautiful Romance just upended Vazirabad in the Nad al Sheba Trophy (G3), with Sheikhzayedroad third in his title defense and Basateen fourth in his first marathon try. Quest for More, whose Prix du Cadran (G1) upset of Vazirabad was bookended by narrow losses to Sheikhzayedroad; Ebor hero Heartbreak City, who suffered a heartbreaker in the Melbourne Cup (G1); Hugo Palmer’s progressive Wall of Fire; 2015 Ascot Gold Cup (G1) scorer Trip to Paris and O’Brien’s comebacker Kingfisher, an unlucky second that day; Singapore’s Quechua; and honest Carnival competitor Rembrandt van Rijn and Godolphin’s Famous Kid, each stepping up in trip off a fourth and seventh, respectively, in the City of Gold.
The $1 million Godolphin Mile (G2) figures to suit the brilliant Sharp Azteca quite well, while Japan’s Kafuji Take has a come-from-the-clouds style that may not play as well around Meydan. The outstanding local hope is North America, unbeaten on the dirt and freshened after the February 11 Firebreak (G3). Familiar foe Heavy Metal jumped up in his absence to dominate the last prep, the Burj Nahaar (G3), over Ross (second), Stormadal (fourth) and Le Bernardin (eighth), who’s regressed since his repeat in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 (G2). Etijaah, who beat a ring-rusty Mubtaahij in the Curlin, cuts back in trip, along with Korean Horse of the Year Triple Nine and American expat Second Summer, fifth and seventh in Round 3, and Fitzgerald, who was up the track in Rounds 1 and 2. British-based Gifted Master, a tiring fourth in the Zabeel Mile (G2), hopes to handle the dirt.
Here’s the entire list provided by the Dubai Racing Club: