May 14, 2021

Mystic Guide, Channel Maker among U.S. hopes on Dubai World Cup card

Morning at Meydan Racecourse as 2021 Dubai World Cup week dawns (Coady Photography)

Fields for Saturday’s nine-race Dubai World Cup (G1) program were released Monday. Post positions are now available for four races – the UAE Derby (G2), Dubai Gold Cup (G2), Godolphin Mile (G2), and the Kahayla Classic (G1) for Purebred Arabians. The draw for the Al Quoz Sprint (G1), Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1), Dubai Turf (G1), Dubai Sheema Classic (G1), and the World Cup will follow Wednesday.

Here’s an overview of how the contests are shaping up.

$12 million Dubai World Cup

Godolphin’s progressive Mystic Guide, who put it all together in his comeback romp in the Razorback H. (G3), tops the American delegation including Pegasus World Cup (G1) runner-up Jesus’ Team; Sleepy Eyes Todd, fourth in the Pegasus and fifth in the Saudi Cup; and last-out Louisiana (G3) scorer Title Ready. Two more speculative Godolphin standard-bearers are Magny Cours, based in France with Andre Fabre, and Saeed bin Suroor’s Gifts of Gold, fresh off upsetting the Red Sea Turf H. on Saudi Cup Day.

Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 (G2) hero Military Law and Japanese dirt champ Chuwa Wizard hope to turn the page on their respective sixth and ninth in the Saudi Cup. Salute the Soldier enters in peak form after taking the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) and Round 3 (G1).

Dubai World Cup field (emiratesracing.com)

$5 million Dubai Sheema Classic

Saudi Cup star Mishriff opts to stretch out to about 1 1/2 miles on turf rather than stay on dirt for the World Cup. Last year’s French Derby (G1) winner will have his stamina tested by Chrono Genesis, who beat males in two prestigious events at home in Japan last season; multiple Group 1 hero Mogul, Aidan O’Brien’s lone runner on the entire card; U.S. champion turf male Channel Maker, back at his preferred trip following a second in the Neom Turf Cup in Saudi; 2019 Japanese Oaks (G1) vixen Loves Only You; and the streaking Walton Street who exits a Dubai City of Gold (G2) victory for Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby.

Dubai Sheema Classic field (emiratesracing.com)

$4 million Dubai Turf

Lord Glitters looks to follow up on his course-and-distance coup in the Jebel Hatta (G1) over Eqtiraan and Appleby’s rusty Al Suhail. Fellow British Group 1 veteran Lord North makes his reappearance, as does compatriot Regal Reality who brings better form than a multiple Group 3-winning resume implies. Fuji (G2) scorer Vin de Garde will try to maintain Japan’s hot hand in the about 1 1/8-mile affair.

Dubai Turf field (emiratesracing.com)

$1.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen

Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen sends out Yaupon, last seen losing his perfect record as a troubled eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), as well as Jalen Journey who earned his way back to the big leagues. Wildman Jack looks to follow up on his smashing Palos Verdes (G3), while Zenden scored a hard-fought decision in the Pelican at Tampa Bay Downs.

Japan’s Copano Kicking and Matera Sky, one-two in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint, are joined again by Justin who hopes to do better than his sixth behind them on Saudi Cup Day. Fellow Japanese shipper Red le Zele shortens up from a fourth in the February (G1).

The ex-Asmussen Switzerland captured the Dubawi (G3) at this track and about six-furlong trip before a fourth in Riyadh. The next two Meydan preps, the Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) and Mahab al Shimaal (G3), went to Al Tariq and Canvassed, respectively.

Dubai Golden Shaheen field (emiratesracing.com)

$750,000 UAE Derby

Only three Triple Crown nominees are entered in this Kentucky Derby (G1) scoring race worth points on the 100-40-20-10 format – Godolphin’s Rebel’s Romance, fourth in the Saudi Derby; Japan’s France Go de Ina, convincing winner of his past two at Hanshin; and the maiden Speight’spercomete, a closing second (to Panadol) in the Al Bastakiya at the about 1 3/16-mile distance of the UAE Derby (G2).

But there’s no shortage of talent among those not nominated to the Triple Crown. Takeru Pegasus has performed well, albeit in defeat, in two events on the Japan Road. France Go de Ina’s stablemate, Pink Kamehameha, surprised the Saudi Derby, where New Treasure was third and bin Suroor’s well-touted filly Soft Whisper wound up fifth in what looks like a toss. Mnasek, second to Soft Whisper in the UAE 1000 Guineas, later routed the UAE Oaks (G3). Mouheeb got up in the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3), and Uruguayan Derby winner El Patriota exits a third in the Al Bastakiya.

UAE Derby field (emiratesracing.com)

$1 million Al Quoz Sprint

Appleby’s Space Blues rolls in with a five-race winning streak including the Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1) and the 1351 Turf Sprint on Saudi Cup Day. But this about six-furlong dash down the straightaway is more of a speed test than he’s accustomed to trying. Charlie Hills has a strong hand with comebacker Khaadem and Equilateral, who landed the Meydan Sprint (G2) going his pet five furlongs over Acklam Express. American contenders Extravagant Kid, True Valour, and sophomore Cowan add intrigue, while Final Song and Motafaawit were separated by only a head in the Nad al Sheba Turf Sprint (G3).

Al Quoz Sprint field (emiratesracing.com)

$750,000 Dubai Gold Cup

Doncaster Cup (G2) hero Spanish Mission, Godolphin’s classy Secret Advisor, and Prix Maurice de Nieuil (G2) victor Red Verdon – the respective second through fourth in the Red Sea Turf – square off again over an extra furlong in this about two-mile prize. Volcanic Sky broke through in the Nad al Sheba Trophy (G3) in his latest, edging his bin Suroor confrere Global Heat. Mark Johnston dispatches Subjectivist, freshened since slogging to victory in the Prix Royal-Oak (G1) at a heavy ParisLongchamp, and Germany’s Walderbe takes his severest distance test yet.

Dubai Gold Cup field (emiratesracing.com)

$750,000 Godolphin Mile

Meydan specialist Midnight Sands made a triumphant homecoming in the Burj Nahaar (G3), beating several of his locally based rivals in this spot. Visitors from afar include Dieu du Vin, who was prominent on the 2020 Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby; Parsimony, a winner here last Carnival for Doug O’Neill; millionaire and Cigar Mile H. (G1) runner-up Snapper Sinclair; Avant Garde, most recently second in the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2); and British globetrotter Ambassadorial.

Godolphin Mile field (emiratesracing.com)
Dubai Kahayla Classic field (emiratesracing.com)