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Friday, March 27, 2009

Exclusive: Nick Mordin's Dubai Analysis

Across-the-pond native, author Nick Mordin from HANA's advisory board, has allowed us to print his Dubai Analysis for this Saturday here at HANAblog (thanks Nick!). Also, Craig let us know that Trackmaster is offering free PP's for the races.

We'll have HANA member Jay Kassa's Florida Derby thoughts tomorrow.

UPDATE FROM NICK:

Since I wrote about the Dubai World Cup meeting earlier in the week more information has become available. We now know the draw and the weather forecast. Let’s look at the draw first and how it may affect the races. I’ve gone through my database and produced the winning draw positions from all the races with 12 runners or more at Nad Al Sheba that I’ve got. I produce them below with a few hints about their likely impact


DRAW

I should note that the track management at Dubai is basically British. And we Brits don’t have a brilliant record at managing dirt and artificial surfaces. Huge biases tend to show up, and very often the rail is dead as a dodo. The jocks all dread being drawn one on the dirt at Nad Al Sheba (around the turn anyway), though for some reason the stats indicate the inside does really well at nine furlongs.


6F DIRT (STRAIGHT) DUBAI GOLDEN SHAHEEN

1-7 19/167 11.4%
8-10 5/71 7.0%
11+ 0/93 0.0%

The Dubai Golden Shaheen is run on the straight six furlong dirt course. And it’s kind of obvious you want to be drawn as low as possible. The results suggest that if you have post eleven or higher you might as well stay at home.

This year the two horses that have drawn the graveyard spots of 11 and 12 are the Japanese challenger Bamboo Ere and the hot favourite Indian Blessing. Clearly we need to have a big re-think about Indian Blessing’s chances here and look a bit harder at the fancied candidates in post 7 or lower (notably Big City Man and Black Seventeen).


ONE MILE DIRT

1,2,3 5/85 5.9%
4-12 22/151 8.8%
13+ 2/75 2.7%

Until he drew post 13 Gayego had looked really good here. But he’s a great big lumbering oaf of a horse that’s surely going to have trouble maneuvering away from his horrible outside spot. Lucky Find hates being drawn wide, so his 12 post looks a killer.


9F DIRT UAE DERBY
1-3 6/42 14.3%
4-11 5/111 4.5%
12+ 4/46 8.7%

I’m wondering whether these stats are due to a small sample size. But still, they do seem to suggest we need to take a closer look at Regal Ransom now he’s drawn 1 and his most fancied rivals have posts 4 or higher.

10F DIRT DUBAI WORLD CUP
1-2 2/50 4.0%
4-10 9/124 & nbsp; 7.3%
11+ 7/74 9.5%

N.B. Eleven of the thirteen runnings of the World Cup have gone to a horse drawn between six and eleven. Horses with such draws have won 11 from 78. Draw five or lower has produced two wins from 65 tries. No horse has scored from post 12 or wider.

With longshots drawn 1 and 2, the fancied runners all have reasonable posts. But if the stats for the big race itself are a guide then Asiatic Boy’s number four draw is not helpful. Ditto for My Indy’s 14 slot.


1M 1F 194 YARDS DUBAI DUTY FREE

1-5 7/70 10.0%
6-10 5/69 7.2%
11+ 2/53 3.8%

Trainer Richard Hannon was tearing his hair out after the favourite, Paco Boy, drew post thirteen. Charlie Farnsbarns, Jay Peg and Presvis are hung out even wider. And Jay Peg seems likely to be most affected because he always goes for the lead and will surely lose stacks of ground going wide into the first turn.

Of the ones that seem to have a real shot only Vodka gets in with draw 5 or lower. Though Bankable, drawn 1 is pretty smart and probably deserves another look.


1M 4F TURF
1-4 12/101 11.9%
6-10 6/124 4.8%
11+ 6/104 5.8%

Here the horses are running a long enough trip to sort themselves out and win from pretty much any position. But there is clearly still a bias to the inside four slots. These are occupied by Front House, Eastern Anthem, Russian Sage and Spanish Moon. They’re all useful and must be worth a closer look.


THE GOING
There’s an 80% chance of rain today and a 70% chance tomorrow, with a quarter inch being what’s predicted each day according to the weather channel. So I’d say it’s unlikely we’re going to get the normal firm turf at Nad Al Sheba. Most likely it will be good, but there’s a 20% or so chance it will go yielding or softer.

The chance of the dirt track going sloppy or muddy is probably only about 15%. IT all depends when the rain falls.

I’ll be covering off any obvious going preferences when I go through each contender’s form. Right now the only thing that leaps off the page is that if the dirt does ride sloppy then the chance of Black Seventeen in the Golden Shaheen skyrockets. Casino Drive would move up in the World Cup as he won on a muddy track two runs back. But the chance of Asiatic Boy would plummet according to his trainer who says he might as well stay at home if it turns muddy.



GODOLPHIN MILE

CAT JUNIOR
Since this race was renamed and had its value increased=2 0massively only one of the nine winners previously failed to score on dirt. This was the 2003 victor Firebreak who had finished a short head second in the UAE 2000 Guineas on his previous outing on dirt.

Cat Junior has never run on dirt. You could argue that he shows the lack of acceleration and preference for firm ground that many dirt horses do when running on turf, and that he has a dirt sire. But there are strong influences for turf on his dams’ side and his physique and stride pattern bear no resemblance to those of a typical dirt runner. Clearly he’s smart. But I can’t support a dirt debutante in a race this good.


DON RENATO
I tipped Don Renato when he ran third in the Godolphin Mile here last year at astronomical odds and he does look to have some short of shot again.

Don Renato started his racing career back in January 2006 in Chile where he won a five furlong maiden race by no less than fourteen and three quarter lengths on his racecourse debut. He clocked a seriously good time that day. I rated it the second fastest on an eighteen race card. The fastest was a Graded stake for three year olds which was just a fifth of a second per mile faster. The effort earned him a ballpark pattern class speed rating from me which is pretty nifty for a debutante.

Don Renato ran even faster when he went on to win two of Chile's biggest three year old races, both Group=2 01's over a mile. In the first of them he disputed the lead through blazingly fast early fractions before drawing away to win while slowing down less than his pursuers in the last two furlongs (sectional times were 20.82, 43.38, 1m 08.53, 1m 35.41).

Don Renato was exported to Saudi Arabia and was off for about a year. He faded badly to get beat 23 lengths when tried over a mile and a half in the King's Cup. But there's no way he could stay that far judged on his physique. He won two of his four Saudi starts at shorter and lost by a little over half a length to Dubai World Cup second Premium Tap in one of his defeats.

After this Don Renato ran a close third in the Godolphin Mile despite not getting a clear run. Then he was off for ten months when he ran third in the first round of the Maktoum Challenge, staying on well after a slow start. He ran slightly faster in the next leg of the Maktoum Challenge and improved slightly again when running on to be fifth of fifteen in a decent Group 3 here last time over the course and distance.

The arguement for Don Renato is that he had a training setback, has gradually been getting fitter and improving and will peak in this race once more, just like he did last year. It's not impossible.


TWO STEP SALSA
Won a hot Conditions sprint on his Dubai debut by three and a half lengths.

That was his first effort on actual dirt. B ut he'd won both his outings on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface when it was producing plenty of kickback and riding more like dirt.

So far his only loss in six outings at less that nine furlongs on dirt or AW surfaces was his third place finish in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile where he set a suicidally fast pace.

The concern is that Two Step Salsa carries his head rather high which makes him hard to control. He invariably chases after the lead and has tired to defeat the two times he‘s met fields this big. This originally led me to worry that he would he be made to go off too fast in this big field.

However the draw has been very kind to Two Step Salsa. He is drawn four and the only other front runner in the race, Dijeer, is in the killer post 15. Plus the only other three runners which have shown early speed - Art Of War, Informed and Gayego - are drawn 10,11 and 13.

Nobody is better at stealing a race from the front than Two Step Salsa’s jockey Frankie Dettori. It’s a trick he loves to try. The draw has given him a great chance of using it again to win another big race here.


KALAHARI GOLD
Horses with a serious turn of foot like Kalahari Gold rarely make a successful transition to dirt because it’s more efficient to make up ground more slowly on the surface. In addition Kalahari Gold got into traffic problems the only time he ran around a turn on his lat est outing.

AL MORHIJ
The only Saudi racing website I could find produces all the results, including the horse’s names, in Arabic. So I’m afraid I just don’t know enough about this horse to properly evaluate his chances. However Saudi runners trained by Doug Watson like this one have been competitive at the Dubai Carnival this year. And Al Morhij has run progressively faster in his last three Dubai starts, all over this distance. Last time out he clocked a time that is almost certainly the fastest of many mile races run at Janadriah (the top Saudi track) this year, maybe even a track record. He moved strongly and impressed work watchers the other day. He’s got to be a bit interesting at astronomical odds from a favourable post.


TIZ NOW TIZ THEN
Failed to stay 10f last time and met traffic problems when finishing strongly to be second to Dijeer over a mile before that. This big, tall, muscular, powerful horse was moving really strongly at the finish against Dijeer. Sectional times and visual impressions suggest he'd have got up and won in another hundred yards. If he had it would have been his third win in three starts on dirt at trips short of ten furlongs. Looks a big player here.


ART OF WAR
My speed ratings indicate that Art Of War is a Group 1 horse on dirt. But he’s only a medium sized horse and takes a lot of driving. So he finds it hard to fight for position against bigger horses and it’s difficult to steer him out of trouble. This surely explains his apparent preference for small fields. If he'd got up in a couple of photo finishes loss and a half length second when he was bumped at the start had gone the other way he would have won the last seven times he's run in fields of ten or less. He's lost all fourteen times he's faced more starters. The field looks too big and the distance too short. And now he’s gone and drawn a wide post to boot.


INFORMED
It took four runs for Informed to break his maiden, and he didn’t win again till he was dropped in class to a low grade claimer on his eighth outing. He’s since won an Optional Claimer and run second in a Grade 2. But the times were slow and he’s yet to race on actual dirt.


LUCKY FIND
Seems to be a rail runner that’s not big enough to fight his way to his favoured spot from a wide draw. Won his maiden from a wide draw (but took a bump when doing so). Since then he’s run unplaced all four times he’s had a double figure draw and won five of the eight times he’s run around a turn from a lower draw. He was slow away when second in one of his three losses from a low draw, runner up in a Group 1 in another and third in a very fast race in the other. He got caught out wide when drawn 13 here last time20and has been assigned a horrible slot in post 12 this time.


GAYEGO
Won the big local prep for the six furlong Golden Shaheen but didn’t look a natural over the distance. He's a great big strapping sort that has shown smart form in America over the longer trips he’s clearly built for. He didn’t seem to stay 9.5f and 10f in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but impressed many when winning his only other start on dirt in the Arkansas Derby over 9f. This distance looks ideal for a horse I rate Group 1 on the clock.
However I am troubled by his horribly wide post. You could argue that the reason he ran clunkers in the Preakness and the Derby wasn’t the distance but the very wide post positions he had in those races. He won from post 10 when taking a maiden but has not had a draw wider than seven barring the two Classics. His physique makes him hard to manouver. So chances are he’s going to get hung out wide around the first turn. If he’s dropped right back to reach the rail and comes with a late run I think he’ll do better. But his wide post is a real turn off now.


DIJEER
Given his pedigree it’s no surprise Dijeer won a good Conditions race the first time he tried dirt on his latest outing. The concern is that he seems to be a ‘need to lead’ front runner that’s best dominating smaller fields. He’s rea ched the first two all eleven times he’s run in fields of ten or less. But he’s never won in six tries in bigger fields, finishing far back in four of them. Runner up Tiz Now Tiz Then was gaining rapidly on him in the last half furlong last time and will, I suspect, reverse the form in this much bigger field.

Besides, the draw could not have been harsher on Dijeer. He is drawn widest of all in the fifteen box. He’ll never get to the lead from there.


CONCLUSION
Godolphin love to win this race because it’s named after them and gives them the chance to start the meeting with a flyer as it’s the first race. They’re bidding to win it for the seventh time and indulging in overkill by fielding the two fastest dirt runners in Gayego and Two Step Salsa.

Until we had the draw I figured that Gayego had the best chance. But TWO STEP SALSA has really lucked out by being drawn well inside all the other speed. He looks set to enjoy an uncontested lead and be tough to peg back once Dettori kicks for home. However I think TIZ NOW TIZ THEN has some sort of shot too. He‘s a very good looking horse that’s progressive and clearly very smart on dirt over this distance. I think he’s worth betting besides the favourite and also in a reverse straight forecast or exacta. It’s tempting to toss in Don Renato and Al Morhij as a couple of wild longshots and perm a bunch of forecasts and trifectas, but I’ll resist the temptation.


RECOMMENDED BETS

Win on

4: TWO STEP SALSA
And
8: TIZ NOW TIZ THEN

Plus a reverse Computer Straight Forecast on the above horses.




UAE DERBY


REGAL RANSOM
Regal Ransom is a muscular, good-bodied, pacey sort that has the build of a seven furlong specialist to my eye. He made all the running at a searching pace to win a hot maiden on his racecourse debut and ran his stablemate Desert Part to half a length on his Dubai debut. But he tired to finish unplaced when tried over eight and a half furlongs, and Desert Party was getting away from him in the last furlong when he ran a more distant second to that one when the pair were stepped up to a mile last time. The nine furlongs looks a bit too far to me.

Now that he’s got such a good draw I want to find a reason to say Regal Ransom will stay. But his pedigree backs up what his physique and form say. He’s had two siblings. One was Speedy Dollar who won over six and seven furlongs but ran sixth or worse and below his best in three tries at a mile. The other was Runaway Ransom who ran okay over six furlongs on his debut but finished only eleventh on his only other start over 8.5f.

LELAH DORAK
It’s tough to find anything out about Saudi horses. But Lelah Dorak is the second big gest money earner in Saudi this year, ran only seven hundredths of a second off the time the older Godolphin Mile contender Al Morhij managed when that one ran the fastest mile at Janadriah this year. He’s a muscular, mature, good looking sort that looks in great shape from the recent photos I’ve seen. He won a Saudi Group 1 last time and hasn’t been hammered by Desert Party like so many other horses in this race. He’s got to be interesting at huge odds.



DESERT PARTY
The chart comments for Desert Party’s sole loss read ‘stumbled then was bumped on both sides and pinched back leaving the gate’. But it looked to me that the main cause of his defeat was trying to make up the lost ground into a searching early pace over a trip well short of his best. He looked threatening entering the straight but then tired late.

Desert Party has won all his other four starts, and the longer he’s run the better he’s looked. Last time out when finally stepped up to a mile he was really motoring in the final furlong, burying his old rival Regal Ransom by nearly five lengths. He’s built and bred to improve again over longer distances like this and looks almost unstoppable here. The trouble is he’s 2-5, so he’s also almost unbackable.

REDDIN COLLIERY
Got beat 4.25 lengths into third by Desert Party over seven furlongs and 6.25 lengths into the same spot20over a mile. He’s a front runner whose sole win came over seven furlongs on Poly. He just doesn’t look fast enough, and he doesn’t look likely to improve for the step up to 9f either.


JOSE ADAN
This good-bodied, long striding colt clearly has masses of stamina. But over the distances he’s run so far his rivals have been going too quick for him to avoid traffic problems. He’s actually got himself into some sort of trouble on all five of his starts.

Jose Adan’s most eye-catching performance came in the G3 Arlington-Washington Futurity. The early pace was ferocious that day, enabling him to come from an impossible looking position approaching the home turn to finish like a train and get up close home (he got disqualified for bumping the second but won on merit).

Last time out Jose Adan was made to look one paced in a six runner affair over this course where the early pace wasn’t great. He didn’t have the pace to take a gap on the rail and had to be swung out wide painfully slowly before getting rolling far too late.

If the early pace is really strong it could well pull Jose Adan into the picture late. But whatever happens to him here he looks a fine prospect for the Belmont Stakes over a mile and a half later on.



SOY LIBRIANO
Five losses, four of them below Group class, suggest Soy Libriano is not that good. He had the run of the20race when beating Jose Adan in a small field last time. But my impression was that in a more strongly run contest Jose Adan would have got up. Looks a bit below the class of the Godolphin trio.

NAVAL OFFICER
If anyone ever had any doubt that the best horse doesn't always win they need only watch the video of the Meydan Classic at Nad Al Sheba. Naval Officer was clearly far better than any of his rivals but managed to lose thanks to experiencing a ludicrous amount of traffic problems and being asked to gain ground into an accelerating pace off a modest early gallop.

Naval Officer earned a big write up from me when winning the Prix de Conde in France last year and struck me as the best Prix du Jockey Club prospect to have run all season. He should have won all four of his juvenile starts but lost narrowly once by running green.

Before his run in Dubai Naval Officer had looked rather a tricky ride due to his habit of sticking his head up in the air. The standard solution for this is to fit a sheepskin noseband. This forces a horse to put their head down to see the ground in front of them, thus giving the jockey more control.

The equipment was duly tried by new trainer Jerry Barton in Dubai and it worked. Naval Officer still raced with his head a little high but he settled at the back, with his head in a much more normal position, looking very tractable.

Naval Officer was a long way b ack approaching the homestraight, but this should have been no problem as he showed in France that he can pick off the leaders with an electrifying burst of speed. Indeed he quickly surged through down on the rail as they entered the straight, only to find his passage blocked by a wall of horses. His rider allowed him to drop back again slightly and took the gamble of waiting for a gap to appear. Sadly it never did.

Eventually, far too late to have any real impact on the race, Naval Officer was yanked out violently around the line of horses in front of him to the centre of the course. Once there he lengthened, showing that beautiful flowing stride and blistering burst of speed he'd displayed in France. He was cutting down the leaders with every stride and would have got up with another fifty yards to travel but had to be content with third.

Naval Officer was full of run at the finish and will clearly stay a whole lot further than the seven and a half furlongs of that contest. I have no doubt that he is a future Group 1 middle distance star. His stride pattern strongly suggests that he'll prefer fast ground. And his physique looks that of a ten furlong runner to me.

So much for the plus side. The huge negative is that this race is run on dirt.

I know that you could argue Naval Officer has the pedigree to adapt to dirt and that therefore he's a serious contender for this contest. ; But in my experience horses with a turn of foot as good as his are always better on grass.

A few days ago Naval Officer’s trainer confirmed my worries by saying the horse didn’t seem to like the dirt when he worked him on it here at Nad Al Sheba for the first time. He took the opportunity to talk his chance down, something that I’m going to emulate here.

I think this is a brilliant horse and do hope that he’s not sent back to Saudi Arabia where he’ll have nothing but dirt to race on. He belongs back in France on turf.



CONCLUSION
There are a whole bunch of slow horses in this race and some more that are trying dirt for the first time. The Godolphin horse DESERT PARTY looks set to dominate the race. And it’s hard to see him getting beat unless they go a crazy early pace which might just pull Jose Adan into it. However LELAH DORAK does look a very interesting runner that might well run second at huge odds or possibly even win. So he’s got to be bet to win and also under the odds on favourite in a forecast or exacta.

RECOMMENDED BETS

Win on

3: LELAH DORAK

Plus A Computer Straight Forecast

5: DESERT PARTY
To beat
3: LELAH DORAK


DUBAI GOLDEN SHAHEEN


FORCE FREEZE
Broke his maiden in claiming company and beaten all three times he’s run in stakes company. Won a fair l ocal race last time but looks outclassed here.


BIG CITY MAN
Big City Man looked set to win the big prep for the Dubai Golden Shaheen when getting the better of the Godolphin runner Diabolical with a furlong and a half to run. But once he'd kicked clear I got the impression he was idling and suffered from the fact that his challenger Gayego was racing about eight horses widths away. I feel if they'd raced alongside each other the competition would have encouraged Big City Man to come out on top.

Big City Man was used to running around a turn in America, so always had horses or a rail alongside him over there. He also had company all the way when winning so impressively at Nad Al Sheba on his previous outing. On his most recent start, for the first time in his career, he was asked to run without company and didn't seem to like it. His jockey seemed to sense this and gave him a sharp crack of the whip inside the last furlong. But this simply caused Big City Man to flash his tail rather than run harder.

Big City Man should have company for longer here, and I reckon that he'll improve as a result. He’s a pacey really well made sort that looks a top class sprinter to me.



DIABOLICAL
Has shown some smart form. But got beat by Big City Man fair and square last time. And it’s hard to get away from the fact he’s lost the nine most valuable races he's contested and won five of the six least valuable.


LUCKY QUALITY
An interesting runner that’s won all four times he’s run on dirt in Hong Kong. He’s got plenty of early pace, being a close-coupled, muscular speedball. But his best time was almost a second off that achieved by the course record holder who was set to run here. And the ballpark speed ratings I can make for his HK races suggest he’s no better than G3 class.


BLACK SEVENTEEN
Ran almost as fast as Indian Blessing when taking the G1 Vosburgh last year. His win there and his other big success in the G2 Carry Back Stakes came on muddy tracks. He’s failed to win or show form that good in seven other outings in pattern company. Initially that made me sceptical about his chances. But the forecast rain might just turn this track muddy which would improve his chances massively. In addition the only horse to ever run faster than him here is Indian Blessing whose chances have just been massively compromised by a killer draw.


MACHISMO
Decent American sprinter. But he’s lost all seven stakes races he’s contested and looks a fair bit behind the top US runners.


MARCHAND D’OR
Horses that can produce terrific acceleration on turf rarely translate their form to dirt. Marchand D’Or certainly didn’t when trying dirt for the only time in his life in this race back in 2007. The run earne d him a Racing Post rating eleven or more pounds lower than he’s earned in all twenty turf races he’s contested since his racecourse debut. It’s puzzling to seem him tackle the surface again and utterly amazing that he’s ante-post favourite.


BAMBOO ERE
A useful performer on dirt in Japan where he‘s won eight of eighteen starts. But he’s built for longer trips, ran second in the Japan Dirt Derby and scored his biggest win over seven furlongs.


INDIAN BLESSING
This brilliant filly’s only loss in seven sprint starts came in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint over seven furlongs where she chased a furious early pace before tiring into second. She’s better over this distance of six furlongs and is the quickest runner judged by US speed ratings. Until the draw was published she looked like a deserving favourite. But she’s been drawn 12 and it’s hard to get away from that dreadful stat which shows that all 94 horses drawn 11 or higher over six furlongs on dirt at Nad Al Sheba have lost.


CONCLUSION
Eight of the nine runnings of this race have gone to a horse that reached the first four in a US G1 or G2 sprint on dirt in the previous year. Only Black Seventeen and Indian Blessing have done that, and they’re the fastest two runners in the race. Until the draw came out and the weather forecast turned wet Indian Blessing looked the obvious choice between this pair. But now I have to go with BLACK SEVENTEEN who looks massively overpriced at 14-1 with the bookies. I also like the chances of BIG CITY MAN and recommend betting both.

RECOMMENDED BET

BIG CITY MAN
And
BLACK SEVENTEEN - take the 14-1 offered by Ladbrokes and Victor Chandler.





DUBAI DUTY FREE

BANKABLE
I've banged on before about how I believe Bankable may well be a Group 1 horse. And I did so again recently after he won a red hot handicap at Nad Al Sheba over the same course and distance he'll be tackling in the Dubai Duty Free.

Having his first run for Mike De Kock, Bankable was not happy with the very slow early pace and threw his head around. But this didn't stop him producing the most phenomenal burst of speed over the last three furlongs to come and win the race. He fairly flew home, clocking just 32.94 seconds for the final three furlongs. The only faster finisher I've ever heard of was Macoumba who clocked 21.7 seconds for the last two furlongs of a slow run Prix Imprudence back in 1995. That race was two and a half furlongs shorter and Macoumba only sustained her finishing burst for two furlongs rather than three. So Bankable's sprint to the line must rank right up there.

When I adjust my rating for pace, it points to Group 2 effort from Bankable. However he hit a proper Group 1 when giving Raven's Pass a race last year and t hat puts this big, good looking horse in with a real shot here.

GLADIATORUS
Gladiatorus clocked a sensationally fast time when making all the running to beat his rivals nearly six lengths in the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort over a mile at Nad Al Sheba. I rated it the fastest performance we’ve seen from any horse on the planet all year on my ratings. On his only other start since his lengthy enforced break he'd broken the course record over half a furlong shorter.

Gladiatorus has only lost three of his eleven starts. One of his defeats was a half length loss in Italy’s top two year old race where, as usual, he set the pace, got four lengths clear early in the straight and ended up losing by just half a length to Scintillo (who now looks to be a seriously smart horse following his recent win in the Winter Derby)

The big question now is whether Gladiatorus can last the extra furlong of the Dubai Duty Free. If he can then he is a big player here.

My own feeling is that Gladiatorus is a big, muscular pacey sort that won't get an inch further than a mile. The way he backed up from running 11.8 for the penultimate furlong to 12.8 for the final furlong suggests last time I'm right. Even his trainer has expressed pretty strong doubts about him staying.

There's also the concern that Gladiatorus could 'bounce' off such a fast effort. Still, it was a huge run and marks Gladiatorus out as an world class perf ormer. I’m going to side against him but see him as likely to win something really big later this term.


VODKA
Desperately unlucky in the big local prep for this where she was totally boxed in on the rail with nowhere to go in the closing stages and passed the posts cruising while her rivals were being hard ridden.

Vodka has proven herself to be one of the best racemares on the planet in recent years. She was Japan's horse of the year last season and earned a special achievement award the year before that. She has won two Group 1's at a mile and broke the course record when taking the Group 1 Tenno Sho over ten furlongs. So the nine furlongs looks perfect for her. Went close in this last year when her connections say she was nowhere near as fit as she is now. Looks the one to beat.

HYPERBARIC
US Turf horses are rarely good enough to beat the best European turf runners when they take them on outside of America. Okay Fourstars Allstar won the Irish 2000 Guineas, but that was against three year olds. Var also won the Prix Abbaye, but that was over five furlongs, and US horses have a big edge over the Europeans in sprints. This is an all-aged nine furlong affair and the most valuable turf race in the world. Even if Hyperbaric were somehow good enough you have to take account of the fact he leads or runs close to the lead every time and looks set to be taken on by an amazingly f ast front runner in Gladiatorus here.


NICONERO
Smart old Australian warrior. Won five Group 1’s including the last three races over 1m plus he’s contested. The big concern is that his two worst starts in a 52 race career came the only two times he’s run abroad. Ran a clunker in this last year. Could be he prefers tighter courses as he’s lost all four times he’s run at Randwick, the only Australian course this big he’s tried.


CREACHADOIR
Got to within three lengths of the inner when eighth in this last year. But it was a slowly run contest. It’s hard to forget the way he stopped and got caught towards the end of the French 2000 Guineas over a mile. His old trainer, Jim Bolger, said that was as far as he could go after he ran unplaced in the Ballysax Stakes over ten furlongs. His new trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor has twice tired him over nine and ten furlongs but again he’s failed to reach the first three.


KIP DEVILLE
2007 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner has won 11 from 15 at a mile or less and finally won beyond a mile at the tenth attempt last time. That was in a small field, around a seven furlong oval on firm ground when he was allowed to sprint for home and get first run after a modest early pace. Can’t see him staying here.



BALIUS
Has shown a terrific turn of foot to place in three big international races20and win the key local prep for this last time. Should go close once more but lines of form and the clock suggest that two or three of these are just a shade better.


ARCHIPENKO
Most international Group 1’s feature a slow early pace and a sprint finish, and that suits Archipenko fine as he’s shown that he can run the last half mile in under 46 seconds. He’s run a whole string of big races in international contests including in this race last year when finishing strongly to lose by just half a length after getting boxed in. He won his prep race in good style and looks sure to go close.


TUESDAY JOY
Bled a few runs back. And, like most horses that develop this problem, she now seems best on faster going (as more testing ground brings on a bleeding episode). She's won five of the last six times she's run on good or faster going and lost the last five she's had on dead or soft.

Her win in the G1 Chipping Norton last time looked good. She won with something in reserve and her jockey rode her with a good deal of confidence.

I like the fact she's a big mare that has no problems fighting for position in a big field. This is clearly an improving mare that's in great form.

So far so good, but now there are a couple of negatives.

Her trainer says that the forecast rain is a plus. But that’s not the way I see it at all. In addition her w ide draw just has to dent her chances.


LADY MARIAN
This filly improved massively in the latter half of last season and would have won two of Europe’s most valuable fillies’ races but for getting into trouble around Dusseldorf’s tight turns when losing the German Oaks in a photo.

However there is an obvious concern that she may take time to come to hand just like last year. The fact that her trainer has just come out and said she’ll improve for the run hardly inspires confidence in her chances. Nor does the fact that he’s switched her from the 12f Sheema Classic to the nine furlongs of this race - surely because he‘s worried she‘ll tire badly over the longer trip.


PACO BOY
Got a bit squeezed for room when third in the eleven runner Prix du Moulin according to trainer Richard Hannon. And he had a troubled passage in the nineteen runner French Guineas. He's only a medium sized colt and seems to come off worst in the traffic problems which big fields generate. In addition he’s run below form both times he’s run beyond seven furlongs. So the ante-post support for him to win a 16 runner race over nine furlongs is puzzling. Now that he’s been drawn so wide I’m even more confident he’ll get hammered

CHARLIE FARNSBARNS
Clocked a good G2 time to beat Bankable over this distance on his last run, clearing away=2 0nicely to score by a length and a half. He’s had a few training problems but now seems back to the form that enabled him to run a pretty close second to the very smart Authorized in the Racing Post Trophy. His last two runs were over this odd distance and if it turned soft that would definitely up this proven mudlark’s chances. But his relatively low speed ratings, the absence of Group 1 wins and a very wide draw put me off.

JAY PEG
Bids to become only the second horse to win back to back runnings of a race on this card. Is rounding into form just as he was when taking this last year and obviously has a serious chance. The concern is that the other jockeys now know he can steal a race from the front and will stick closer and press him harder this time. In addition he faces a fearsome rival for the lead in the blazingly fast Gladiatorus. Plus he’s drawn fifteen. He did win from post fourteen last year but was able to get a good position thanks to the slow early pace, something which looks a lot less likely this time. Still he is a high class performer and you can’t dismiss him totally.


PRESVIS
A few seasons back Luca Cumani had the best thoroughbred on the planet in Falbrav. Now it looks quite possible that he has another horse that can take some of the world's most valuable races in Presvis\.

Presvis put up an extraordinary performance to win a red hot h andicap at Nad Al Sheba last time out. Settled last in a big field, he came through with remarkable speed in the last couple of furlongs to run down the leader and win by over three lengths. In doing so he clocked a slightly faster time for the last seven furlongs than international star Archipenko had in the previous race which was quarter of a mile shorter.

As I've mentioned before Presvis has a machine-like, flowing stride that's tailor made for the fast ground most of the world's big races are run on. With any sort of luck in running he would have won all six times he's run beyond a mile. I have no doubt that he is a serious Group 1 performer.

One concern I have about his last run is that it was so fast Presvis may not recover from it in time to be at his best for the Dubai Sheema Classic. But, seeing that he produced his best run last year on his fifth start in an eleven week period, I'm not that worried.

Another worry is that Cumani has said Presvis will stay a mile and a half. He took a long time choosing whether to go for this race or the 12f Sheema Classic. And it’s hard not to think the face the has Purple Moon in the other contest didn’t influence his decision.

Being draw 16 is hardly a plus for Presvis either. Nor is the real possibility of a slow surface which he probably wouldn’t handle.

However you can argue that the pace will be so=2 0strong here it will make the race ride like a ten furlong race and enable Presvis to swoop from out of the clouds to win like he did last time.




CONCLUSION
I was going to suggest a bet on Tuesday Joy before she got drawn so wide and the rains arrived. Now I’m dubious about her chances. I’m slightly tempted by Bankable and Presvis now. But everything seems to have fallen in place for the brilliant Japanese mare VODKA who is surely going to be tough to beat.

RECOMMENDED BET

3: VODKA



DUBAI SHEEMA CLASSIC


FRONT HOUSE
Lacks the Group 1 form shown by every past winner of this race. Did beat the multiple Group 1 winner Quijano last time. But she was fitter than her rival and receiving chunks of weight. I rated it no better than a G2 class run. She’s too lightly raced for me to say she’s not good enough. However the fact that she’s failed to reach the first four in a Group 1, unlike any previous winner of this race, does put me off.


EASTERN ANTHEM
Became only second horse to ever win two handicaps in a row at the Dubai Carnival a quarter or mile plus different in distance last time. This was the brilliant Indian Champion Mystical. Showed terrific acceleration and class to win both. But the fact that he’s lost all five times he’s run in pattern company and won his other four starts is20a turn off.

RUSSIAN SAGE
Has won G1’s at 8f and 10f and ran big to split Balius and Jay Peg when second in the key local prep for this. But my read of his form and race times suggests he’s a step behind the top three or four here. In addition the fact that the only time he failed to finish first or second came the only time he ran beyond ten furlongs hardly inspires confidence.


SPANISH MOON
Looked like a potential Group 1 horse when coming from an impossible position to win a Listed race at Ascot early last year. He came within a short head of winning his last three starts too. But it’s hard to get away from the fact he’s lost the last three Group races he’s contested but won three of the last four times he’s run in lower class contests beyond 10f. Fractured his hip a couple of years ago and you don’t often see horses win Group 1’s after such an injury.


YOUMZAIN
The reason Youmzain has only won one of his last eleven starts is that he needs a strong pace to make his late run effective. He has been outpaced in sprint finishes several times and is probably best in smaller fields due to his lack of push button acceleration.

Youmzain has won two Group 1 races. But they weren’t international Group 1’s like this. He has finished second in two Arcs and a King George. He also ran third and fifth in the last two runnings of this race. So far he’s lost seven big international Group 1 races. And it’s hard for me to escape the strong visual impression of how the first two sprinted away from him in the closing stages of the King George last year. I can see why he’s favourite on lines of form, but I just think he lacks the turn of foot needed to win a really big turf race like this.


PURPLE MOON
Showed he can be effective at 12f when second to Doctor Dino in Hong Kong. But he’s clearly best over a mile and three quarters plus and has scored just once in thirteen tries since his maiden win at this trip or less. That win came in a mere Listed event. Still, it takes a smart horse to run second in the Melbourne Cup. And Purple Moon did run a good fourth when unfit and not pressed too hard in the big local prep for this. Not totally impossible though if it turned his chances would be impaired according to his trainer and form.



MARSH SIDE
Very tall (over 17 hands), long striding horse with little acceleration. His last two wins have, not surprisingly, been around North America’s biggest turf course, Woodbine which is 12f around. He won over 14f there and more recently took the G1 Canadian International over this trip. However he’s run unplaced on his other eight most recent starts and, significantly, failed to show his best in two starts at Belmont which has a similar circumference to th is course. Hard to see him prevailing around these relatively tight turns in the likely sprint finish.


QUIJANO
Versatile horse that won ten in a row before showing smart form in top races in half a dozen countries. But he’s always looked rather slow to manouver so it may well be significant that he’s encountered traffic problems on several occasions while losing the last seven times he’s run in fields of ten or more but won three of the last five races he’s contested in smaller fields. His two G1 wins came in single figure fields. Softer ground would up his chances significantly as it spreads the horses out and makes it easier to manouver. Plus he’s won a Group 1 on heavy.

RED ROCKS
I reckon the only reason Red Rocks was able to win the 2006 Breeders' Cup Turf over a mile and a half was that it was run on lightning fast ground around a track that's just seven furlongs in circumference. He’s lost the other nine times he’s run this far, run poorly on his last two outings and his connections never planned on running him here till he was invited a couple of weeks ago.

DOCTOR DINO
It's easy to see Doctor Dino as rather boring because he's always banging away in these big races, winning or placing. But let's not forget he won or placed in eight of the world's biggest middle-distances races. He's a remarkably consistent and versatile horse that has shown his best on track s less than 12f in circumference. His form figures in these circumstances read 1131, with his sole loss being a good third place finish in this race last year. He’s proven on soft ground too and very versatile.

KIRKLEES
Has run seriously fast several times and won in G1 company. But he’s built and bred for no more than 10f and has always looked best around that trip. So it’s most surprising to see him try 12f for the first time here rather than go for the Dubai Duty Free.



CONCLUSION
If the rain buckets down I can see Quijano running better than I originally thought. But I can’t get away from DOCTOR DINO. He looks the overwhelmingly logical choice and is surprisingly well priced around 6-1.



DUBAI WORLD CUP


MUHANNAK
Failed to handle dirt over an inadequate 10f here last time. He’s smart on synthetic surfaces at a mile and a half. But I see ho reason to believe he’ll adapt to this surface and distance at the second attempt.

ARSON SQUAD
Has failed to reach the first three all five times he’s tackled Grade 1 company before. It’s also hard to escape the conclusion that he’s best in smaller fields. He’s won six of the ten times he’s run in fields of seven or less but failed to reach the first three in ten starts in fields of eight or more.

SNAAFY
Has improved massively since switched to dir t, scoring four times out of five. But he’s a narrow, unattractive sort whose form and speed ratings suggest he’s no better than Group 3 class. Plus there is the big question of distance. Two of his wins have been over seven furlongs, the other three came over a mile. He doesn’t look built for this far.

ASIATIC BOY
Won the big local prep for this last time. He came through smoothly to take the lead and didn't have to battle long with the runner up before surging clear in the closing stages. He's been remarkably consistent on dirt all through his career and has a real shot of improving on his second place finish to the brilliant Curlin in this event last year. Muddy ground would be a concern according to his trainer who says he might as well stay at home if the forecast rain turned the going sloppy.


HAPPY BOY
Happy Boy is not very big. But he seems to have no problem in big fields. He bolted up by nine lengths from the high class Gloria De Campeao on his sole start at the Dubai Carnival last year. But, like a lot of horses this year, he seems to have needed a run or two to get fit this time around. He gave Asiatic Boy a real race last time until not being able to contain his rival inside the last furlong. I can't see why he should turn that form around. But he is clearly very smart on dirt and must have some sort of shot.


GLORIA DE CAMPEAO
Won fiv e of the six times he ran below Group 1 class in his native Brazil, finished third in his two Group 1 tries and ran second to top class rivals in his first three Dubai starts last year. He seemed to need his first couple of runs this year but bounced back to form with what was probably his best lifetime effort last time. He's a decent horse though probably just shy of Group 1 class. But it's a measure of how weak the field for this race is that he looks to have a real shot of placing.


WELL ARMED
Has won a G1 and two G2’s on synthetic surfaces but his only success in four tries on dirt came in a minor contest. His eight length third in this race last year stands as his best ever run on dirt. But even a replication of that effort would probably not be quite good enough to take this.


CASINO DRIVE
Casino Drive would surely have won the Belmont Stakes if he hadn’t been scratched after stepping on a stone just before the race. The hot favourite, Big Brown, ran a clunker, leaving a bunch of desperately slow rivals to fight out the race. Casino Drive would have started odds on to beat them with Big Brown out of the race, having hosed up on his debut in Japan before taking the big local prep, the Peter Pan.

Casino Drive’s physique and that long raking stride of his scream out that he‘s a middle distance horse. As does his pedigree. He’s a half brother=2 0to two Belmont Stakes winners. Yet last month he only went under by a neck in a field of 16 for the Grade 1 February Stakes ran on dirt at Tokyo racecourse over a mile where they clocked 1.34.60. That's way faster than any other race on the card and the fastest time recorded in the 24 year history of the race (I suspect a track record too). I can’t see how you could rate it anything other than a top Group 1 performance on the clock.

Now that he steps up to a more suitable distance Casino Drive looks to have a major chance of taking this. It would be great if the going turned muddy as he won on such a surface a couple of runs back and it might well inconvenience his main rivals. But whatever the going he does look the one they all have to beat.


ALBERTUS MAXIMUS
The trainer of Albertus Maximus has said that he's best over a mile or a mile and 110 yards. So it’s no big surprise that he tired to get beat nearly a dozen lengths into eighth place the only time he tried a mile and a quarter (his widest margin loss ever). His big claim to fame is that win in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on Pro Ride.

Yes he won the Donn Handicap over nine furlongs last month. But it was a weak renewal. Approaching the straight Albertus Maximus looked set to cruise by the pacemaker that had been under pressure for two furlongs despite enjoying an uncontested lead. However he starte d to run out of gas soon after and staggered through the last furlong in 13.6 seconds, allowing the pacemaker to nearly get back up again. The runner up’s only success in a dozen Graded stakes came in a weak Grade 3.

In the US, Beyer ratings are the accepted benchmark. And Albertus Maximus has yet to earn a Beyer rating bigger than 103 (equivalent to a Racing Post rating of just 99) in sixteen tries. I just can’t understand why he’s favourite over a trip he doesn’t seem to stay, on his second best surface and against opposition he seems inferior to.


MY INDY
Pacey sort that has the build of a miler but managed to hold on from Happy Boy and Asiatic Boy when stepped up to nine furlongs for the second leg of the Maktoum Challenge last time. He was tiring visibly approaching the line and it looks doubtful that he’ll get the extra furlong here. If he does he’d have a shot, though his very wide draw is a concern.



CONCLUSION
This race features a motley crew of horses running over the wrong distance or surface and a whole stack of obviously slow entrants. So it’s hard not to conclude that it’s the worst ever renewal of the Dubai World Cup. However there is always at least one seriously good horse in a race this valuable and I reckon that it’s CASINO DRIVE, the Japanese runner. I see him winning this by a decent margin. It’s ju st a pity his odds have plummeted. He was 9-1 when I picked him earlier in the week and is generally 4-1 now.
He’ s still worth betting. But the real value looks to be betting the two longshots Happy Boy and Gloria De Campeao to chase him home. They both have a serious chance of doing so on my speed ratings and would trigger a huge payout if they filled the runner up spot behind the Japanese horse.


RECEOMMENDED BETS

8: CASINO DRIVE

Plus two Computer Straight Forecasts


8: CASINO DRIVE
To beat
5: HAPPY BOY

And


8: CASINO DRIVE
To beat
6: GLORIA DE CAMPEAO

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice Work
The purses for some of these races are amazing.

Todaysdarkhorse said...

I have alot of respect for Nick Mordin. I think he's found the right horse in picking Casino Drive for The World Cup. I just watched the replay of his last race in Tokyo where he ran a neck short in a race that might have set a track record. He should improve off that one and as long as hes a fair price I'm going to nail him.

Jay Kassa said...

Nick Mordin on GLORIA DE CAMPEAO - "he looks to have a real shot of placing."

$1000 exacta !

Well done.