Dubai World Cup (G1) favorite Arrogate drew post 9 for Saturday’s $10 million prize at Meydan, to the satisfaction of trainer Bob Baffert.
“Nine is fine,” the Hall of Famer said. “The main thing for him is to get away, then it’s up to (jockey) Mike Smith to decide.
“I just didn’t want to be number 14 or on the inside – otherwise it really didn’t matter.
“I know I have a great horse. If he just repeats his last race we’ll be in good shape.”
Baffert was likewise pleased with Hoppertunity’s landing in post 12 in the World Cup.
“It’s good for him,” he said of the closer who was third to California Chrome here last year. “He likes to be out in the clear and then he’ll come running.”
Of the other Americans, pace factor Gun Runner got a plum post in 5.
“We’re very happy with it,” assistant trainer Scott Blasi said. “If we could have picked one, it would have been the five or six, so we’re happy.”
Todd Pletcher’s pair of Keen Ice and Neolithic will break from posts 10 and 11, respectively. While it doesn’t matter much to Keen Ice, who’ll drop back anyway, the speedy Neolithic probably preferred something more toward the inside.
“I was told that posts three through eight are where you want to be,” Starlight Racing’s Jack Wolf said of Neolithic, “but I can’t complain about (11). Keen Ice is directly inside and he likely won’t be quick away from there. Directly inside him is Arrogate, so we will know where he is immediately.”
Jerry Crawford, managing partner of Donegal Racing, continues to sound positive about Keen Ice.
“He does his best running late from the gates so the draw doesn’t make much difference,” Crawford noted.
“I was hoping for about the seven or eight and I got the 10. It was interesting where the other horses ended up, and I think it works out well for us. There’s a lot of speed near us so I think Javier [Castellano, jockey] will have a lot of choices. If he’s close enough when they turn for home he’s going to be tough to deal with for everyone, except maybe Arrogate.”
Last year’s World Cup runner-up, Mubtaahij and fourth-placer Special Fighter, were disadvantaged by their outside posts.
After Mubtaahij was stuck widest of all in post 14, assistant trainer Trevor Brown struck a philosophical tone.
“What can we do? We’re very happy with his progress since his last race. You have to take what you get,” Brown said.
New trainer Maria Ritchie, who sends out her first World Cup runner, was frank about Special Fighter’s task from post 13.
“Ideally I’d have liked to have been in six or seven, so being out in 13 isn’t ideal and I just hope we don’t get trapped three wide,” Ritchie said. “It’s not an easy draw as he usually races close to the pace and I just have to leave it to the jockey now.”
There was no “visitors’ draw” for the Japanese contingent, who all received good posts.
Apollo Kentucky will break from the rail.
“I didn’t really want the outside so I’m happy enough with an inside draw,” trainer Kenji Yamauchi said. “I’ll have to wait to see if the horse can live up to his American pedigree on dirt.”
Gold Dream drew post 3, which trainer Osamu Hirata saw as auspicious.
“He won from gate 3 in the Grade 1 February Stakes last month so it should be a good sign,” Hirata said.
Trainer Mikio Matsunaga was happy with the draws for half-brothers Lani (post 4) and Awardee (post 7).
“We only had four and six left anyway, but this is a good draw,” he said of Lani. “He’s not the type of horse who can settle from the front, he’s a hold-up horse. He doesn’t mind the kickback and he doesn’t have to travel wide from the draw, so I think it’s good for him.
“It was a good draw (for Awardee). He always jumps well from the gate and number seven will give us some options.”
Locally based Long River, who wired the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (G1) over course and distance, will save ground all the way from post 2.
“The draw is fine, of course I am happy with that,” trainer Salem Bin Ghadayer said. “He showed his ability last time in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 and I hope he repeats it on Saturday. I’m so happy to just be in the race.”
Godolphin’s lone representative, Move Up, landed just where trainer Saeed bin Suroor hoped in post 6.
“I’m very happy – it’s the best draw,” bin Suroor said. “I was left with six but if I could have chosen I’d have gone between five and eight anyway.”
Chilean mare Furia Cruzada will break from post 8.
“It’s my first (World Cup) runner and it’s exciting to be here,” trainer Erwan Charpy said. “We’ve got speed inside and outside and I’m happy enough with midfield. She’s adaptable. Realistically she’s an outsider but she’ll run to her best.”